NewsEducation / May 26, 2015

IPS Board To Consider More Deals With Charter Schools

Indianapolis Public School No. 110 is home to the  KIPP College Prep Middle and KIPP Unite Elementary schools. - Scott Elliott / Chalkbeat Indiana

Indianapolis Public School No. 110 is home to the KIPP College Prep Middle and KIPP Unite Elementary schools.

Scott Elliott / Chalkbeat Indiana

Less than three months after Indianapolis Public Schools approved its first autonomous school as allowed under a controversial law, the school board this week will consider OK'ing three more schools.

Enlace Academy and two KIPP run schools could become so-called “Innovation Network Schools” in an agreement that would allow sharing district resources, such as transportation or meals, in return for students' test scores in district averages and the district receiving state tuition support for the students.

The IPS Board of Commissioners will vote Thursday during their regular meeting.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said profit is not a motive for these collaborations. Both charter groups were already paying rent on IPS buildings. 

"I think in deepening our relationships through these agreements in lieu of the lease agreements, we have is a much better position for IPS and those providers," Ferebee said Tuesday, after the board discussed the agreements. 

"I think it will be the beginning, of what I anticipate, will be a long term strategy for Indianapolis Public Schools and specifically charter schools in Center Township. My goal is one day we are one unified system serving our students and their families at the highest level."

Ferebee has said he is less worried with who is providing a student’s education -- be it charter or a traditionally public school -- if students are succeeding. Ferebee's support for the law to allow autonomous IPS schools was meant with resistance by some current and former members of the IPS board and teachers last year.

Both charter operators that the IPS Board will consider striking a deal with, already have a relationship with IPS.

Enlace Academy is on the second floor of Gambold Preparatory, an IPS magnet high school, and serves a mostly low-income, Latino population on the city’s west side. Kevin Kubacki, the school’s founder, was also recently chosen for a program to create new models for running IPS’ most troubled schools.

KIPP College Prep Middle and KIPP Unite Elementary is currently housed at School No. 110. The 5th-8th middle school returned to the school last fall after a three year hiatus. The KIPP was asked to leave the building in 2011 when IPS sought to its increased use but later allowed to return after it was vacated.

KIPP would pay IPS a annual $175,000 facilities fee and a transportation fee of $650 per students under a seven-year contract.

Enlace Academy’s five-year contract calls for a  $120,000 per year facilities fee and no  shared transportation services.

State funding for KIPP and Enlace will be sent to IPS, and then district will then distribute the funds to each school.

IPS could void the contracts if either school lost its charter from the Indianapolis Mayor's Office or if student test scores began to slide.

This fall, Francis Scott Key Elementary School 103 will become a Phalen Leadership Academy. The Phalen charter school company is the first outside group to be approved by the IPS Board under Public Law 1321.

The legislation, known as Public Law 1321, allows IPS to hire charter companies or independent management teams to run its low-performing schools or open schools in underused and vacant district buildings.

Children from the neighborhoods around these schools could enroll if they want and not be faced with a lottery system that some charter schools require. 

Last year, IPS identified 14 schools graded D or F for the past three years, that are eligible under the bill to be run by an outside management team.

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

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