NewsEducation / February 24, 2014

IPS Plan To Help Address Deficit

Indianapolis Public Schools is facing a roughly $20 million deficit. But, it is working with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce on strategies to become more solvent. 2014-02-24T00:00:00-05:00
IPS Plan To Help Address Deficit

Indianapolis Public Schools and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce are laying out a plan for the district to save money.

IPS has a roughly $20 million deficit and leaders believe the Operational Analysis document has strategies to put a dent in that figure.

"It provides a confirmation and affirmation of things that I saw in the organization," said Superintendent Lewis Ferebee.  "When you see the recommendations come out and they look very similar to what you are trying to accomplish.  It's very exciting."

Board commissioner and former President Diane Arnold admits, in the past, the district has put together plans that did not benefit children.

"We had an adversarial relationship with everybody.  We fought with DOE.  We fought with the city.  We fought with charter schools and I just think it's a new day," she said.  "We've realized that's not the best way to go and we are not going to make the progress blaming everybody else for our shortcomings."

She says with changes to the board and new Superintendent Ferebee’s leadership, the district is more willing to try different strategies to improve efficiency.

"What I learned when I was board president, I was overwhelmed with the number of people and organizations that came to me and said 'we want to help you,'" said Arnold. "For too long those doors were shut."

For the past eight months, the district worked with the chamber on the plan that identifies areas where the district is over spending.

Ferebee says better use of IPS buildings is a main area where savings is possible.

"Sometimes when you reduce cost, there are unintended consequences," Ferebee said. "So it'll be very important for us to ensure that we have a process to ensure that we've explored all the unintended consequences, so we don't create barriers to teaching and learning as we move this process of getting more efficient."

Chamber President Michael Huber says the district has more square footage than it needs and the plan identifies five buildings that could be used better to increase revenue.

  1. The former Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, currently used for transportation maintenance, 901 N. Carrollton Ave.
  2. The former Ford Assembly Building, currently used for storage, 1325 E. Washington St.
  3. School 616, Key Learning Community, 777 White River Parkway West Drive
  4. School 315, Cold Spring Environmental Magnet School, 3650 Cold Spring Rd.
  5. Administrative Building, 120 E. Walnut St

"If they were sold or leased, in some cases could generate significant revenues for IPS to help offset other costs" said Huber.  "The report also says we don't want IPS to just view its facilities as a source of funds and liquidation, because especially in urban areas, some of these educational facilities are so well built, they are like gold for other educational uses and other community uses."

Other suggestions in the document are for transportation improvements and staffing changes.  

"We basically first started looking at where we have redundancies at work," said Ferebee.  "Instead of two or three people being responsible for almost the same task, how can we give that responsibility to one person?"

Click here for the full report.




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