Updated Sept. 27 at 10 p.m.
Indianapolis Public Schools board voted 4-1 Thursday night to approve a partnership with the city’s chamber of commerce. The “Efficiency Initiative” plans aim to find areas where the district can reduce costs and close its deficit.
Indy Chamber will fund two IPS positions and provide consulting services for the implementation of cost-saving options.
IPS Commissioner Elizabeth Gore voted against the measure.
“I know efficiency is important, so don’t think that," Gore says. "But, I wanna make sure we aren’t cutting out some of the things that are going to be important, like, taking away a lot of the transportation or taking teachers away.”
At Tuesday's school board meeting, several commissioners voiced their support for the proposed partnership. But, commissioner Kelly Bentley called on the board to be realistic about where the district will need to cut costs.
"We tiptoe around this, and at the end of the day, in order to achieve the significant savings we’re talking about, we’re going to have to close schools and lay people off," Bentley said. "I think we need to be very clear about that."
Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber says the partnership will build on the chamber’s proposed plan to save $477 million by eliminating staff, services, and closing schools, while still raising teacher salaries.
In response, IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the dramatic cuts proposed by the Indy Chamber in June would devastate Indianapolis’ most challenged neighborhoods. But at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Ferebee said some of the Indy Chamber’s efficiencies are advisable.