When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, September 25, and its Board Action Session on Thursday, September 27, topics included teacher leadership, district facts and figures, and project updates on recent real-estate developments.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items.

Teacher Leadership

IPS Human Resources Officer, Mindy Schlegel, presented an overview of IPS Teacher Leadership roles, compensation and participation, and the results of current initiatives, like Opportunity Culture.

Key Messages:

  • Teacher Leadership is a talent retention tactic that extends the reach of the district’s best teachers without removing them from the classroom.
  • These opportunities create a pipeline for professional growth, skill development and additional compensation.
  • A 40 percent increase has been observed in Teacher Leadership applications since 2017.
    • A total of 380 applications were received for Teacher Leadership roles last year alone.
  • IPS currently offers a variety of Teacher Leadership roles. Examples include:
    • Multi-Classroom Leader.
    • Expanded Impact Teacher.
    • Senior Clinical Prep Teacher Leader.
    • Change Agents, Clinical Prep, Evaluation, Recruitment, and Special Education Leads.

Brain Institute

IPS Special Education Director, Ashley Cowger, presented an overview of the IPS Brain Institute to commissioners.

Key Messages:

  • Brain-aligned teaching, learning, and social/emotional support is a key factor for a student’s individual success in school and is the grounding framework for all human growth.
  • IPS launched the Brain Institute last school year in response to school requests to learn more about the neurobiology of teaching and learning.
  • The purpose of the institute is to establish foundational knowledge and skill for participating schools around brain-aligned teaching and learning strategies, neuroanatomy, and the effects of adversity on human development.
  • The program also provides assistance to build brain-responsive systems of care, support and services into each school.
  • A total of 24 IPS schools and programs participated in the 2017-18 cohort.
  • So far, the results have proven positive as participating schools continue to implement the strategies into day-to-day instructional and student-support practices within their schools.

IPS Facts and Figures

Ahmed Young, IPS chief of staff, presented to Commissioners an overview of IPS by the numbers. This included information from the Office of Enrollment and Options, Human Resources, Food Services and Transportation.

Key Messages:

  • The purpose of the Facts and Figuress to provide an overview of projected/unofficial enrollment, programs and staffing data.
  • IPS serves students in 88 unique schools and programs with many innovative academic models combined with multiple school support strategies and designs. 
  • As IPS continues to provide a diverse learning community; our staff is becoming more diverse as well. More than 30 percent of new certified hires identify as a person of color. 
  • In an environment with more choice, reliable and safe transportation is essential. IPS transports more than 22,500 students daily while also providing a daily average of 150 field trips, athletics and extracurricular routes. 

Teen Dating Abuse Policy

Ahmed Young and IPS Director of Special Projects Joe Gramelspacher presented several district initiatives to address teen dating abuse.

Key Messages:

  • The district will appoint Teen Dating Abuse (TDA) Advocates at each middle school. These advocates will serve as the primary point of contact and resource for students experiencing teen dating abuse.
  • A new link has been added to every school’s web page that connects students with the Title IX Coordinator allowing them to report teen dating abuse (even anonymously).
  • Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) is a program that targets all male athletic programs. During the season, CBIM coaches would lead their players through weekly activities that address themes such as personal responsibility, respectful behavior and relationship abuse.
  • Youth Cognitive Accountability Training (Youth CAT) would be implemented at Harshman Middle School as a pilot program. It will focus on cognitive behavior activities designed to improve moral reasoning, encourage accountability and challenge anti-social attitudes. The program is by referral and consists of 12 weekly classes to attempt to correct problem behavior.

Transportation Waivers

Joe Gramelspacher presented an updated policy governing transportation of students by district employees in a private vehicle.

Key Messages:

  • All IPS employees are prohibited from transporting a student by private vehicle.
  • Employees who violate this policy are subject to liability for any incident that occurs and disciplinary action for the violation of Board policy, up to and including termination of employment.
  • Exceptions to the policy include the following:
  • An IPS employee who is the student’s parent, blood relative or legal guardian.
  • Situations where the transportation of the student is not related to any IPS sanctioned activity.
  • Emergency situations where the transportation of the student is solely to protect the safety or welfare of the student.
  • Employees providing emergency transportation, must comply with internal reporting requirements.
  • Any other IPS employee can request a limited waiver of this policy based on a special relationship between the employee and the student or their parent/legal guardian.

Facilities Planning Project

Joe Gramelspacher presented an overview of a proposed cross-sector facilities planning project to commissioners. It included a recommendation to approve a service agreement with a national firm.

Key Messages:

  • Using grant funds, IPS has engaged a firm called Kitamba to lead a facilities planning project.
    • Kitamba is a small consulting firm that has supported similar projects in many districts with large charter sectors, including Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey schools.
  • The facilities project seeks to address three challenges the district faces:
    • Planning challenges presented by charter schools.
    • Capacity challenges in IPS Central Services.
    • Inconsistent facilities utilization across the district.
  • Due to the large number of charter schools operating in IPS boundaries, long-range planning is more challenging than it used to be.
    • This grant will help IPS design a process that can account for the large charter school market in the district.
  • IPS has a need to redistrict due to demographic trends and changes in grade configurations.
    • The district has several schools on the west side that are operating at or above 100 percent capacity. However, there are several schools on the east side that are well below capacity.
    • A carefully planned community-based redistricting process is essential to address these challenges.
    • This project will lay the foundation for redistricting in the coming years.

ACTION: Approved 5-0

Indy Chamber Partnership Update

The Indy Chamber presented an IPS Operational Assessment to the Board of School Commissioners in June 2018. This assessment identified various operational efficiencies that could reduce costs and maximize resources available to support students and for employee compensation. The Indy Chamber has agreed to partner with IPS to explore implementation of identified efficiencies. The administration recommends – and requests board authorization – to execute the presented MOU to collaborate with the Indy Chamber to pursue identified savings and operational efficiencies.

Key Messages:

  • This partnership includes the hiring of a Chief of Transformation and Enterprise Development Director.
  • The Indy Chamber will fully fund implementation-focused consulting support for at least one year.
  • IPS will provide daily direction and oversight of activities in support of the efficiency initiative.

ACTION: Approved 4-1

IPS Presents “Cyber Security: Keeping Kids Safe Online”

Indianapolis Public Schools will present “Cyber Security: Keeping Kids Safe Online” on Tuesday, October 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Shortridge High School.

Key Messages:

  • Cyber Security expert Theresa Payton will share valuable information to help parents, guardians and children understand the dangers lurking online and how to avoid the many traps.
  • Attendees will learn:
  • How to properly monitor and manage a student’s electronic device usage.
  • About secret apps that may hide a student’s inappropriate online behavior.
  • How social media posts can expose personal information.
  • Why ‘stranger danger’ is also a threat online.
  • How sharing too much information now can impact a student’s life after high school.
  • This free family-friendly event is powered by Eli Lilly and IU Health.