Indianapolis Public Schools presented a $315 million operating referendum tonight, taking another step toward seeking a double-digit tax increase from IPS voters in November. The proposal exceeds the Indy Chamber’s $100 million plan to make IPS teachers and principals the best-paid in Central Indiana while balancing the district’s budget.
The Chamber released its alternative last week, based on a four-month operational analysis conducted with IPS that found more than $477 million in cost savings. These efficiencies helped fund 16% average teacher pay increases and $150,000 principal salaries, allowing IPS to attract and retain highly-qualified educators and invest in other academic priorities with long-term fiscal stability.
As the Chamber, other civic groups and business leaders weigh their options on the IPS referendum, President and CEO Michael Huber released the following statement:
“Over the last four months we’ve worked Dr. Ferebee and his team with unprecedented access and transparency to build an exciting new blueprint for IPS: Paying teachers and principals more than any other local school system, driving more resources into the classroom, and protecting taxpayers by embracing efficiency.
“We found more than a half-billion dollars in savings across IPS operations, and started with a scenario that funded higher salaries and fixed the budget deficit with no new taxes. But we listened to IPS, and scaled back or slowed down some recommendations to arrive at our proposal for a $100 million operating referendum.
“We stand behind this plan, but have kept working with Dr. Ferebee and President O’Connor on alternatives. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to resolve the differences and remain far apart.
“We’re concerned that our numbers are so divergent. We need to study the assumptions behind the $315 million request; clearly the tax impact is significant and the task of winning voter support will be challenging.
“But even close partners can disagree, and the Chamber remains committed to the success of IPS. We’re ready and willing to continue our discussions and help the district pursue opportunities for efficiency and become an employer of choice for great educators."