April 24, 2018

Indianapolis Public Schools To Cut $22M From Budget, Teacher Layoffs Possible

IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee reads to an elementary class. - Indianapolis Public Schools

IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee reads to an elementary class.

Indianapolis Public Schools

Indianapolis Public Schools leaders say they will cut $22.4 million from the 2018-19 budget due to an anticipated shortfall in state and federal funding.

The reduction could include teacher layoffs, a salary freeze for all staff, reductions of substitute teachers and special education staff, according to a district report.

“Today we do not get enough state and local revenue to support our students and families," IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee says. "That is a hard fact.”

Weston Young, chief financial manager, says the cuts are an unavoidable reality based on the economy and expectations of how lawmakers will approve school funding levels for the next two-years year. The general fund budget is projected at $269 million.

“Those are pretty much set. And our revenue, our enrollment is stable,” he says. “We have to execute budget cuts.”

The downsizing comes as the district struggles to build community support for a property-tax referendum to fund capital projects. A nearly $1 billion dollar referendum was briefly promoted earlier this year for the May ballot. But community and business concern led IPS to partner with the Indianapolis Chamber for a reduced referendum request in November.

Ferebee says depending on the outcome of the November referendum, additional cuts may be required. The goal, he says, is to convince voters to approve it.

“I anticipate that there would be some restoration (to cuts) that will take place post-referendum,” Ferebee says if it earns ballot approval. “And I would expect there would be some action on the collective bargaining side since we can not able to bargain any salary increases based where we are now.”

For now, Ferebee says, teacher layoffs are not a certainty.

The district is watching how many certified teachers will choose to resign or retire by the end of the school year, says Mindy Schlegel, human resource officer. Around 400 teachers resign or retire during an entire school year and summer on average.

“Frankly we are trying to avoid it at all cost,” Schlegel says about layoffs.

Teachers must be notified between May 1 and June 30 if they will not be RIF’ed for the upcoming school year.

The $22.4 million proposed reduction includes:

  • $8.9 million by freezing external hires, early retirement, reduction-in-force based on teacher license field;
  • $9.2 million by a reduction in substitute teachers, custodial services, and other service contracts, district-wide salary freeze, and revenue from real estate sales;
  • $2.75 million in special education and English as second language services by reducing contracted services and adjust staff levels;
  • $1.5 million in transportation through limiting extracurricular trips, field trips, and after-school activities.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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