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Students at IPS and other local districts kicked off a new school year last week, and your Business Advocacy Committee (BAC) has been doing its homework, too.  Earlier this week, the Chamber’s political arm endorsed two incumbents and one open-seat candidate for the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners.

Superintendent Ferebee and the current Board have embraced bold aspirations for IPS – building the best urban school district in the nation.  They’ve made strides towards this goal by reinventing the traditional district in favor of greater autonomy, accountability, and access to diverse and innovative learning opportunities for students across IPS.

These efforts are paying off in higher graduation rates, improving test scores and stabilizing enrollment.

But continued progress demands continued strong Board leadership – the kind of leadership that led IPS to partner with the Chamber on a no-holds-barred operational assessment.  This process created a realistic blueprint for higher teacher and principal pay, greater efficiency and better odds of a winning referendum.

To keep IPS on the right track with a Board that’s collaborative and committed to student success , the Indy Chamber BAC is proud to support:

  • Mary Ann Sullivan (At-Large, Incumbent)
  • Dorene Hoops (District 5 Incumbent)
  • Evan Hawkins (Candidate for District 3)

We believe this team, along with President Michael O’Connor and the rest of the Commissioners (who serve staggered terms) will continue to focus on academic outcomes, innovative options for IPS families, and keeping an open door to partners who share these priorities.

Want some extra credit for supporting excellence in education?  Join us at a special BAC fundraiser for our endorsed IPS candidates on September 24th (5:00PM) at the Sanctuary on Penn – more details and register here.


IPS Referendum Update:
As you know, the Chamber was able to endorse a compromise proposal for a $220M operating referendum for IPS, with agreement to pursue many of the findings from our operational assessment and raise teacher and principal salaries to compete with surrounding districts.  The BAC hasn’t yet made a financial commitment to the referendum campaign, but we are working closely with the ‘Vote Yes for IPS’ organization and will be actively supporting their efforts along with our endorsed Board candidates.

Even with a successful operating and capital referenda vote, the next IPS Board will certainly face ongoing fiscal challenges, and will oversee efforts to implement efficiency measures to drive more resources into the classroom (and into educator paychecks).

But as a national model for public, private and philanthropic partnerships, IPS won’t be tackling these issues alone.  The Indy Chamber’s engagement with the state’s largest school system is longstanding and won’t stop on November 6th – we’ve committed to private fundraising to support two new positions reporting to Dr. Ferebee: By hiring a Chief Operating Officer and Enterprise Development Director, IPS will have senior executives focused on cost savings and implementing recommendations from the operational assessment.

We’ll continue to work with IPS to support long-term fiscal stability and its ability to become the employer of choice for great educators; by bringing a business perspective, we can help drive organizational transformation while allowing District and school leaders to stay focused on educational outcomes.


Statehouse Summer School
Learning isn’t just happening in the classroom.  Lawmakers are also studying up for the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly, with summer study committees getting underway at the Statehouse.  Here’s the schedule so far:

  • 8/22     10am (Rm 404)             Government Interim Study Committee
  • 8/23     9am (Senate Chamber) Education Interim Study Committee
  • 8/23     10am (Rm 404)             Fiscal Policy Interim Study Committee (Collection of sales taxes short term)
  • 8/28     1pm (Rm 130)               Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code (No Agenda)
  • 9/12     1pm  (Rm 233)              Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code (No Agenda)
  • 9/25    10am (Rm 130)             Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code (No Agenda)

We highlight the Corrections and Criminal Code Committee because it hasn’t published an agenda, but is likely to hear bias crimes legislation in 2019.  The Indy Chamber and a growing number of business and community groups are urging the General Assembly to finally take action on bias crimes.


Making the Grade – J.D. Ford for Senate
In addition to bias crimes, the next legislative session will likely feature wide-ranging reform of workforce development programs; of course, education is also a focus of every budget year (K-12 appropriations typically making up more than half the state’s spending).

After looking at all the issues, the BAC voted to support challenger J.D. Ford in State Senate District 29; J.D. works in higher education, has thoughtful positions on these key issues and will be a practical problem-solver in the General Assembly.

It Takes a Village
Pre-K will be another legislative education priority in 2019, and the Chamber will be pushing with our “All IN for Pre-K” partners for expanded access to high-quality preschool programs.

Early learning advocates are doing more than just lobbying the state for more funding, however:  The United Way of Central Indiana is ensuring that local pre-K program meet educational standards (through its ‘Pathways to Quality’ initiative), and the Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) is helping home-based preschools operate as successful businesses as they serve the needs of local children and families.  Check out the details on BOI’s ‘Village’ childcare project.

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