The Indianapolis Public Schools commissioner board announced Aleesia Johnson as the district's interim superintendent during a special board meeting Friday afternoon.
Johnson will begin leading the district on Jan. 7, 2019. The board also voted to approve Superintendent Lewis Ferebee’s resignation, he will serve through Jan. 4, 2019. He was tapped as the new leader of Washington, D.C. public schools earlier this week.
Johnson currently serves as the district’s Deputy Superintendent for Academics and has worked with IPS for over three years. Previously she worked with KIPP Indy Schools, a local network of charter schools.
"I think the work and the path that we’re on is the right path but I think obviously I am a different leader and so just excited to think about the challenges that we have ahead of us," Johnson says.
As the search for a new superintendent begins, district leaders face significant decisions in the coming months.
Some of those issues include: Requests by several local charter school networks to be absorbed into the district as part of the innovation network; lobbying at the Statehouse to secure more funding from the biennium budget, and figuring out how the former Broad Ripple High
School facility will be used or possibly sold.
Then there's also a review of how the district high schools have fared during the first year of a consolidation that created specific academic programs at each school.
The search for the next superintendent will be delayed until January when three new commissioners will assume their seats on the seven-person board.
Two of these future commissioners were critical of Ferebee and his policies during their campaigns.
“You've got a situation where you got a board that is in place until Jan. 7, who needs to make those immediate-term decisions, and then a board who needs to be – in my opinion – in the decisions that will be more long-term in impact,” Board President Michael O’Connor said after a closed meeting earlier this week.
Ferebee is expected to start his new position full-time on January 31st. This new high profile job will hold national influence as Ferebee will likely continue his work started in Indianapolis five years ago to turnaround struggling schools.
Ferebee's contract was set to continue through June 2019 with the possibility of annual extensions, based on a 2016 addendum to his original contract.
He received a base pay of $214,581. The amount combined with district retirement contributions and a monthly $1,000 automobile allowance, brought Ferebee's annual compensation to $286,769.
Decisions about the future superintendent will be held off until three new school board commissioners assume their seats on the seven-person board in January.
The hiring process for a permanent superintendent is expected to be decided in early January.
The Indiana Department of Education offers temporary superintendent licenses.