INDIANAPOLIS -- Struggling Indianapolis public schools that earn an F for three consecutive years could be restarted as a charter-like school under a new policy the IPS Board of Commissioners is considering this week.
If approved, the board would be able to hire an outside company to takeover the facility and begin a new neighborhood school as part of the district. Perviously, the district leadership said failing schools would face a restart but this is the first time a step-by-step process has been released.
The plan details actions to be taken in the first, second and third year when a school is given a state accountability grade of F. For example, in the first year, a school improvement plan is created to target areas in need of improvement and the school community is notified by the principal of the problems.
The plan also requires, during the January of the third failing year, for the district to inform school staff and its families whether the school will be reconstituted in the upcoming school year.
The IPS policy would be effective in the 2016-17 school year and circumvent the four-years of academic failure a public school can endure before the state board of education begins intervention.
Board members did not discuss the policy during Tuesday's agenda review session. A vote on whether to approve the "Innovation Restart Model" policy is expected Thursday.
The so-called Innovation schools are run by companies, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations or other types of management teams that have been selected by and granted a contract with the IPS Board.
Phalen Leadership Academy was the first school under such an agreement to remake the former Francis Scott Key School 103 at PLA @ 103 on the Fareastside.
Also discussed during Tuesday's meeting:
Ferebee's performance pay: Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is eligible for 84 percent, or $21,000, of an annual $25,000 "performance compensation" stipulated in his contract and based on various benchmarks set by the board. Board members did not discuss the pay or their reason for not approving the full amount. Instead Ferebee asked that, if approved, the pay not be given until teachers receive their raises sometime early next year. Problems with this year's ISTEP exam have lead to a delay for teacher pay increases across the state.
New Enlace Academy innovation school: Shanae Staples of Enlace Academy charter school gave an update on the school she is designing in conjunction with The Mind Trust. Staples was chosen this year a one of the reform group's "innovation school fellows" and given $100,000 salary and other benefits to develop a new school for IPS. The Mind Trust and IPS want to convert 15 percent of district schools into this type of model through the fellowships.
The Enlace Innovative Network School would be K-5 and combine a STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- curriculum developed with Purdue University, a third of class time through adaptive computer instruction, and interaction with community and business groups. Mayor Greg Ballard's office recently approved a charter for the school.
Ferebee said behind-the-scenes discussions were ongoing as to where the school could open next year. Commissioner Mary Ann Sullivan said that decision needs to happen fast.
"It is really important for you to know," she said to Staples. "And for the school communities, first and foremost, to know."
Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the amount of pay Shanae Staples receives as a Mind Trust Innovation School Fellow -- it is $100,000 plus benefits and other assistance, not $50,000.