The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Board Review Session on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and Board Action Session on Thursday, Jan. 30. Topics included updates on the quarterly finance report, school quality reviews, and a transportation request for proposal.

What follows is a deeper look at some of those agenda items.

Quarterly Finance Update

IPS Chief Financial Officer Weston Young presented the quarterly finance update for the second quarter of the 2019–20 school year budget.

What Audiences Need to Know:

  • IPS enrollment is the highest since the 2013–14 school year.
  • Global and local economic activity continues to support strong local real estate values and state revenues.
  • Strategic conversations and decisions include:
  • Significant collective bargaining compensation and health insurance benefit adjustments.
  • Developing a recommendation for an English Language Arts textbook adoption.
  • Funding at 3:1 student-to-device ratio to support digital curriculum initiatives.
  • Initiated Facilities Optimization Study.
  • Agreed to Memorandum of Understanding with IndyGo for two-year pilot.
  • Facilitated contracted transportation services Request for Proposal.
  • Engaged with USDA concerning Food Service waiver request.

Key Messages:

  • The IPS financial landscape has been strengthened in the short term through an increase in state and local funding, which has allowed strategic investments in teachers and support staff.
  • IPS’ commitment to a Racial Equity Mindset is demonstrated through the certified supplier diversity spending, averaging more than 10 percent of eligible expenditures in the past six years.
  • As IPS begins to develop the budget for the 2020–21 school year, the district will continue to advocate for equitable resources with external stakeholders to serve all students, regardless of need.

ACTION: FOR INFORMATION ONLY

 

School Quality Review Update

IPS Chief Portfolio Officer Jamie VanDeWalle reviewed the current School Quality Review (SQR) process, provided an overview of the key takeaways from the recent SQRs and recommended to the Board to restart two schools for the 2020–21 school year.

What Audiences Need to Know:

 A School Quality Review:

  • Fosters a dialogue between schools and central services around quality and effectiveness.
  • Provides school and district leaders with qualitative data collected from teachers, school leaders, parents, students and community members.
  • Helps inform the district’s decisions on interventions and supports, restarts, closures and expansions.

 Key Messages:

  • It is important to consider multiple measures when assessing school performance and defining what success looks like for IPS.
  • SQRs provide contextual and qualitative data to better inform IPS decisions and recommendations.
  • The district proactively engages in determining and implementing interventions and supports for low-performing schools year-round.
  • While the state looks strictly at letter grades when determining which schools to target for an SQR, the district considers several factors when reviewing schools, including how a school’s scores have grown.
  • Schools that met IPS’ criteria to receive an SQR in 2019–20:
  • Eleanor Skillen School 34
  • James Whitcomb Riley School 43
  • Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48
  • James Russell Lowell School 51
  • Brookside School 54
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58
  • Clarence Farrington School 61
  • Stephen Foster School 67
  • George S. Buck School 94
  • Charles W. Fairbanks School 105
  • Harshman Middle School
  • IPS staff and leadership recommends two schools be restarted for the 2020–21 school year:
  • Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48
  • This school has shown small, incremental growth over the last three years under new school leadership.
  • At the same time, the school has received six years of failing grades.
  • A seventh F is not acceptable to IPS, the families, students, the school or the community.
  • An Innovation Restart, with a carefully selected partner with a strong track record of success, is warranted.
  • Stephen Foster School 67
  • This school has seen three years of declining proficiency and growth as measured on state tests.
  • The school has moved from three years as a D school to three years as an F school.
  • The Panorama culture and climate survey showed the school was below the district average on every measure across student, staff and family responses.
  • While there were bright spots during school visits, the level of needed change warrants the district’s most dramatic intervention generating the recommendation for an Innovation Restart.
  • Restarting a school is an improvement strategy that will mean changes in school leadership, teaching staff and instructional model.
  • Parent Listening Sessions are taking place at each school to answer questions and hear what parents want to see in their child’s school in the next school year.

ACTION: FOR INFORMATION ONLY

 

Transportation Request for Proposal

IPS Chief Operations Officer Scott Martin recommended a Request for Proposal (RFP) to transition the district’s transportation services to another company.

 

What Audiences Need to Know:

  • IPS will transition all bus transportation from a shared system between the district and Durham School Services to a company called First Student Transportation, effective July 1, 2020.
  • Current transportation services will remain in place until June 30.

Key Messages:

  • The move to First Student will save IPS up to $7 million annually.
  • Part of the district’s referendum promise to voters was to continue to work to find places in our budget to save money.
  • 135 IPS transportation employees, including bus drivers, bus attendants and some operations staff, were notified of the change on Jan. 24.
  • IPS recognizes the need to retain its transportation employees through the end of the school year and is working with AFSCME to finalize a retention bonus for all affected employees. The amount and stipulations of the bonus are still under negotiation.
  • IPS values its employees. The district will work with First Student to recruit and transition all current successful employees to new roles with the company.
  • All employees will see pay increases with First Student.

 

ACTION: APPROVED 4-2