October 25, 2018

IPS Talks Innovation Schools, Enroll Indy And New Central Services Location

IPS Talks Innovation Schools, Enroll Indy And New Central Services Location

New Possible Innovation Schools

At Thursday’s Indianapolis Public Schools board meeting, commissioners considered a list of schools interested in partnering with the district to become innovation schools.

Innovation schools are public schools that operate independently from most district policies but can receive services –– including bussing and food plans –– from IPS. 

This year, the state data that helps determine if a chronically low performing school will be restarted as an innovation school is delayed. Commissioner Mary Ann Sullivan said the district should find other data points to evaluate those schools and keep things moving forward.

“I have to believe if the schools, if they really haven’t gotten their act together and they’re not showing progress, that you’re going to be able to see that,” Sullivan said. “So I just have a problem with that kind of falling on our family and community side of things.”

The list of schools interested in becoming innovation schools includes prevalent Indianapolis charter school networks –– including Tindley Accelerated Schools and Phalen Academies. IPS officials say Tindley is interested in bringing their existing five academies under the IPS umbrella. Both Phalen and Tindley showed interest in “restarting” a failing school.

Other interested parties include Purdue Polytechnic High School –– which wants to start an innovation school on the city’s north side.

Two schools on the list –– Invent Learning Hub and the PATH School –– were designed by Mind Trust fellows. The Mind Trust has partnered with IPS and the mayor's office to create new school models for the district to consider implementing.

Innovation schools are a top issue in the upcoming IPS school board election on Nov. 6. Several candidates have voiced concerns over the growth of innovation schools in the district.

“I think we need to pump the brakes on these innovation schools,” District 3 candidate Michele Lorbieski said a recent school board forum.

Approved: Enroll Indy Changes

IPS commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to approve changes to Enroll Indy, the enrollment systems for IPS students in most city charter schools.

The changes include redefining the district’s loyal application priority to only include families that stay in IPS schools after not receiving their top school the previous year.

Other changes would try to more accurately count seats in the district's most popular programs -– including IB and visual performing arts. Families will be required to use Enroll Indy to hold their guaranteed seats each year.

The changes will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.

District Taking Steps to Sell Downtown Central Services Building

Commissioners unanimously approved to move ahead with early steps to possibly sell the IPS central services building downtown at Delaware and Michigan streets. 

This discussion comes as IPS seeks to find cost savings and is asking voters to approve two tax referenda on the November ballot to raise a total of $272 million for increased teacher pay and buildings improvements.

It’s not likely the district will purchase a new building but rather lease one, says IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. The ideal new building, he says, would be centrally located, have public parking and be near a bus line.

Earlier in the week, IPS officials said they are also considering turning the empty Broad Ripple High School building into a K-8 neighborhood school.

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