Addressing our budget — and directing funds to our highest priority — is key to delivering our vision of IPS as a family of excellent public schools in which every student has the opportunity to succeed and the power to create their own future.
Reorganization Advisory Committee: Meeting 4 Summary
On April 27th, the Rebuilding Stronger community process continued with the fourth meeting of the reorganization advisory committee — this one focused on financial sustainability. The goal of this discussion was for all attendees to have a clear understanding of the current IPS financial picture.
As Dr. Johnson made clear in her State of the District, IPS’s budget line is headed in the wrong direction. The literal bottom line is that, if we change nothing, we’ll go into the red in 2028. In the same way that your family might sit around the dinner table to look at costs, weigh priorities, and decide trade offs, Dr. Johnson promised the community would come together to dive into the data, weigh values and trade offs, and recommend changes. This meeting was an important part of that conversation. You can watch the full meeting or keep reading below for more information.
In 2018, the IPS community generously supported an Operating Referendum with the primary purpose of investing in teachers and leaders. Over the past several years, IPS leaders kept our commitment to that purpose:
- We’ve built supports for high-need students;
- We’ve invested in high-quality curriculum;
- And we’ve given essential raises to staff.
These investments are unarguably vital, but they also increased our costs. At the same time, our revenue is going down. Why?
- Declining state funding: Funding from the state hasn’t kept up, because much larger increases have gone to districts with significantly less poverty. Statewide, Total Tuition Support has increased 21% since 2013–14, while the IPS share has grown only 6%.
- Declining enrollment in neighborhood schools: Even though our total operating expense remains at 2014-15 levels, declining enrollment in traditional schools has driven per-pupil spending up by $2,200, or 20%.
What we’ve been doing
We’ve been working hard to offset increasing costs — and decreasing revenue — including through reductions at the Central Office. We’ve also:
- Reduced the number of underutilized buildings, which has generated $25 million in one-time proceeds since 2017 as well as an annual reduction in ongoing facility maintenance.
- Implemented transportation initiatives, like a fuel efficient bus fleet, route optimization, walk zones, and our partnership with IndyGo, which have generated $52 million in savings since 2017.
- Modernized systems, better monitored utilities, and controlled health care costs while increasing access to quality providers.
But the brutal reality is that this isn’t enough to get our budget to a sustainable level.
So, what else can we do?
Here’s the key thing to know: There is a significant relationship between the number of schools we have, the number of students that we serve, the number of staff we employ, and our funding. So when we have underutilized schools, declining enrollment in neighborhood schools, and rising costs in our schools, that all impacts our budget.
That means, just like any budget, we need to look at what’s driving our costs and what’s creating revenue. We can cut expenses, grow our revenue, or some combination of both — but everything involves trade offs:
Main Drivers of IPS Revenue:
- Student enrollment
- Property tax
- State tuition support
Main Drivers of IPS Expenses:
Join the Conversation: We need YOU to help us reinvent, rebuild, redesign!
No decisions are made, and we need to hear from you.
- Quick reminder: All committee meetings are open to the public. Can’t make a meeting? Missed a previous meeting? Meetings are also recorded and put on the IPS website on the Rebuilding Stronger page.
ICYMI: What is the Reorganization Advisory Committee?
This committee is made up of parents and students, teachers and school leaders, Board members and other elected officials, community organizations and nonprofits, and the business community. The committee is tasked with reviewing and discussing assessments on facilities, student experience, enrollment and choice, and finances to provide IPS with feedback and recommendations.