In a virtual state of the district Wednesday night, Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson asked the community to think of ways the district could begin “rebuilding stronger,” while also warning the community of a potential financial crisis.
In her speech, Johnson talked about unequal and inequitable opportunities for students of color that took place in the district a century ago, as well as today.
“We’ve not yet delivered on that full potential for all our kids — to give all of them a shot at excellence,” Johnson said. “Truth is, school districts in this country weren’t originally designed to lift every child to her full potential. They were designed to sort children into different kinds of futures. And that sorting had everything to do with neighborhood, race, gender and wealth.”
But the district's ability to provide equitable opportunities may become harder. Johnson asked the community to come together as the district works to redesign its budget as it faces an uncertain future.
“Ultimately, our budget line is headed in the wrong direction,” Johnson said. “The literal bottom line is, if we change nothing, we’ll go into the red in 2028.”
Johsnon said the time to make structural changes is now, while there is time for conversations that involve the community.
“Now, I believe, we have a chance to design afresh,” Johnson said. “To create new blueprints that celebrate our diversity and the possibility of all our children. To build a family of schools that doesn’t sort, but offers choices. To ask our children and families where they’re going, rather than telling them. To end the fiction that excellence can exist without equity.”
IPS plans a year-long community feedback process. Online and in-person community conversations will begin next week and last for two weeks. Johnson said there will also be additional engagement opportunities in October.