Commissioners approved a three-tiered transportation schedule for the 2017-2018 school year. This concept, first introduced
to the Board in April 2016 and to families in a series of community town hall meetings, adds a third school start time to
increase efficiency and quality of service while potentially saving the district millions of dollars. This transition provides an
opportunity to reinvest savings in transportation operations and employee compensation to enhance service to students and
• Opportunity to reduce max amount of buses needed by approx. 30 buses
• Potential to achieve in excess of $2M in annual savings
• Strive for shorter routes for students
• Reduce amount of doubled routes
• Continue to bring in safer, more efficient buses
• Redirect resources to high mobility students
• Increase extra-curricular transportation opportunities
Most schools will experience a schedule shift of 15 minutes or fewer, while 16 schools will see a larger change in bell
schedules. Participating schools have engaged their school leadership teams, staff and families over the months leading up to
Board approval. Continued conversation and support will be provided to families in the transition, including discussion of
before/after school care options. The length of our instructional days will not be affected by this change. No high schools will
see significant changes in schedule next year; those discussions will occur in tandem with choice academy
planning. Click here for an outline of the new bell schedule for 2017-2018.
Innovation Restart Enhancements and Recommendations
IPS Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson shared a briefing with Commissioners outlining recommended enhancements to the
Innovation Network School framework and recommending next steps for consistently low-performing schools. The current
Innovation Network School Restart eligibility is defined as “3 consecutive F grades from state and/or designated low-
performing by the district.” An update to the framework – first discussed with Commissioners in December 2016 – is
recommended to ensure the process considers additional data points while highlighting multiple improvement strategies.
Objectives of the enhancements include:
• Articulate a clearer definition of “low-performing schools” beyond state grade designation
• Highlight the varied IPS school improvement strategies
• Outline an updated and more detailed timeline for decision-making processes
• Ensure framework is able to work in tandem with forthcoming School Planning and Performance framework and in alignment with ESSA legislation
In addition to considering criteria that state will use to determine intervention, the framework would define “low-performing”
through two lenses:
• Schools in the bottom quartile of proficiency scores
• Of these schools, the bottom half of growth scores
Schools identified as low-performing would participate in a review process incorporating school and family interviews
and a comprehensive data review to determine potential strategies for improvement. In addition to Innovation, school
communities and district leadership can discuss alternative options including joining a Transformation Zone
or reconstituting the school – which would include an all-new staff.
Three schools – John Marshall Middle, Elder Diggs School 42, and Wendell Phillips School 43, are eligible for restart due to
consistently low performance. After discussion with each school community, the Innovation Office presented the following
• Elder W. Diggs School 42
o Proficiency and growth scores at Elder Diggs were both in the lowest quartile of the district for 2015-2016. The district received notice of an unanticipated school leadership change effective this spring, Innovation Restart status for 2017-2018 is recommended by the administration. Meetings with families, staff and community partners will continue to ensure all stakeholders engage in the process to remarkably improve turnaround efforts at the school with the support of Commissioners.
• Wendell Phillips School 63
o Recommended for continued work in Transformation Zone; not recommended for Innovation Restart (ISTEP growth performance is in top half of district); leadership would remain consistent
• John Marshall Middle School
o Recommended for new leadership and participation in the Transformation Zone; not recommended for Innovation Restart in 2017-18
“Particularly in schools which have had five, six years of consecutive “F” letter grades, I think it’s important to note the expectation of us is to take a dramatic step to improve student achievement to prevent further State Board of Education intervention,” said Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “Previously, the point of intervention was five or six years, and that’s been compressed to three years now. So the argument could be made that these schools are well beyond the requirement for intervention by the state board of education, and they are looking to us to ensure that we are taking bold steps to dramatically improve student achievement.”
“I appreciate having parents and community members come tonight to give us all sides of the story,” Commissioner Dorene Rodriguez Hoops said in response to public comments regarding Innovation recommendations. “To hear their passion and their specifics was really meaningful, I’m sure, to all of us.”
GEAR UP Program
Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IPS and Purdue University to implement
the GEAR UP program. IPS is one of 10 districts in Indiana selected as a partner for the GEAR UP project. GEAR UP, funded by a grant from the US Department of Education, will support a full-time building coordinator to mentor 21st Century Scholars for college and career readiness.
A dedicated GEAR UP staff member would provide academic interventions for students and professional development
for staff members. The approved MOU – available here – outlines the objectives of this partnership:
• Increase academic performance and preparation
• Increase graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates
• Increase student and family knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation and financing
Student Based Allocation
IPS Chief Financial Manager Weston Young shared information with Commissioners on the implementation of School Based
Allocations (SBA), including an update on implementation strategies. Strategic Plan item 2.1 – announced in the fall of 2015
calls for a weighted formula to promote equitable resource allocation. Student Based Allocations will:
• Support equity, transparency and strategic use of resources
• Allow principals more flexibility in decision making regarding their own school budgets.
“In 2013, we heard loudly and clearly from principals that one of the major barriers they felt were in their way, in terms of
better serving their students, was having the ability to determine what staffing would be needed in their schools to improve
student achievement,” said Dr. Ferebee. “So I would say overwhelmingly across the board, principals appreciate the
opportunity to have this type of flexibility.”
IPS participates in a national group of school districts sharing best practices on budget formula strategies. When discussing the
proposed strategy of capping gains and losses to ease the transition in the first year for school leaders, our finance team’s
studies of other districts indicate those caps are the best approach for IPS. Financial leaders from other districts which
transitioned more abruptly support the caps as well.
Principals received training and toolkits for school staff support on January 5; workbooks to identify staff allocations were
delivered January 13. Our Finance Division is supporting principals with in-person troubleshooting, as well as online training
and guidebooks. Principals will send budget decisions back to the finance team by February 1 for review.
“We’ve been talking about this for years, about having more control over the way we staff and fund our buildings,” said
George Washington Carver Montessori School 87 Principal Mark Nardo. “Now we have it, and I think that’s a very empowering
place to be. But it also requires a lot of thinking and research – and it takes time, and that time has to be given.”
Commissioners are reviewing a proposed policy for SBA implementation which would include an annual Board review of the
budget formula each year to ensure IPS is maximizing opportunities to foster equity.
Hubbard Life-Changing Teacher Award
Our Commissioners joined Dr. Ferebee in reminding community members, families and students that the deadline for this year’s Hubbard Life-Changing Teacher Award nominations has been extended to February 3. We are excited to partner again with philanthropists Al and Kathy Hubbard and the United Way of Central Indiana on this honor, which gives IPS teachers and principals a chance of winning a $25,000 cash prize! There’s still time to nominate an educator who has made a difference for our students; nominations can be submitted at www.hubbardaward.org.