The Indy Chamber’s partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) spans two decades, and we recognize the critical role that IPS and other school systems play in educating Indianapolis’ young people, the challenges they face, and the social and economic importance of investments in education. We also recognize that IPS requires investment for its capital and operating needs.
However, IPS’ current referenda proposal and timeline have been insufficient to garner the Indy Chamber’s support at this time. We urge IPS and its Board of Commissioners to delay further action on their proposal until a plan can be developed that adequately addresses business and community concerns, including the following questions:
- IPS’ academic proficiency and graduation rates have lagged far behind Marion County and state averages for years. What are the district’s specific student outcome goals, and how will implementation of the Rebuilding Stronger plan help achieve these goals? How will the community know IPS is on track?
- The majority of students who live in the IPS boundaries do not attend IPS-managed schools, including the majority of Black students and nearly half of Latino students. How does the district’s plan impact these students? Why won’t Innovation Network Schools, that are part of the IPS family of schools, receive an equal portion of per-pupil funding?
- IPS’ facilities currently have capacity for 46,000 students, while district enrollment has declined to its current population of 28,000. Will constructing three new buildings and closing six effectively right-size IPS to the appropriate facilities footprint? What facility utilization rate is IPS targeting?What feedback has IPS received from the community to affirm that the new Rebuilding Stronger zones meet existing family needs and will attract new students?
- Other revenue and efficiencies alternatives must be explored, such as utilizing remaining federal relief funding, creative facilities reuse, and accounting for surplus revenues from the existing 2018 referenda. How can these alternatives be leveraged to reduce the need for an additional property tax increase and perhaps extend the timeline for raising new revenues?
- Property values within IPS district boundaries have seen consecutive years of over 15% increases, impacting commercial investment, housing affordability for homeowners and renters, and attraction of new residents and businesses. Do the timing and amount of the planned property tax increase exacerbate economic challenges?
We believe that more time and engagement are required to allow the community to fully vet the current proposal, build support for a path forward, and work with state lawmakers to address inequities in the school funding formula that disadvantage IPS and many other schools across the state. The Indy Chamber looks forward to assisting district leaders in this work and remains committed to the success of IPS and its students.
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For media inquiries: Please contact Casey Cawthon, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Indy Chamber via email at [email protected] or 317.526.8722.