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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

IPS School Board Votes to Pursue Referenda to Support Teachers, Enhance Special Needs Services

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The IPS Board of School Commissioners voted tonight to approve resolutions to pursue operating and capital referenda in the May 2018 primary election to fund competitive teacher compensation, provide services to its high proportion of special needs students, and make safety improvements on school campuses.

In November 2017, IPS committed to accelerating teacher compensation to retain early and mid-career teachers after years of frozen salaries. The District, however, is still challenged to compete with other Marion County school corporations on compensation for experienced teachers and will risk losing teachers to higher paying districts if the operating referendum is not passed.

“IPS has relied on a cash balance and one-time property sales revenue in effort to provide teachers with competitive compensation and serve students with special needs,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “The District has cut its spending overhead and operation costs, but cannot continue to operate at a structural deficit. We must pursue referenda to continue providing the high-level of education our students deserve.”

IPS has not sought a referendum since 2008. Six districts in Marion County have successfully completed operating referendums and four have done capital referendums within the same timeframe.

“Indianapolis needs IPS to succeed,” said Rev. Dr. Clarence C. Moore, senior pastor at New Era Church. “Quality public schools will assure that every child, regardless of race, gender, or social economic status will have access to a quality education.”

While all Indiana school districts provide special education services, IPS educates a higher proportion of students with special needs.

“As a parent of a student with special needs in IPS, I understand the critical need for funding school-based services,” said Michael Kaufmann, VP of Civic Investment at Eskenazi Health. “In order to provide opportunities for special needs learners to grow academically, socially and emotionally, we must fund additional services, accommodations and programs that enable them to succeed. I chose IPS for my son because they provide these services to our family. I support the district’s efforts to secure adequate funding to provide over 5,000 students and families like mine with high-quality special education.”

If passed, the operating referendum proposes a local property levy of no more than $0.59 on each $100 of assessed valuation. The capital referendum calls for a local property levy of no more than $0.1384 per $100 of assessed valuation. The total monthly tax impact is projected to be $28.45 per month for the owner of a $123,500 home – the median home value within Indianapolis Public Schools, per the 2015 American Community Survey. These increases will apply only to homeowners within the IPS district.

The operating referendum would generate an approximately $92 million annual allocation over eight calendar years and is needed for teacher retention and recruitment, academic programs, and special needs services. The capital referendum would generate $200 million to support safety enhancements, improved school facilities, and upgraded classroom technology.

The referenda questions will be presented to voters in the IPS district during the 2018 primary election to be held on Tuesday, May 8. Those interested in learning more about the District’s plans can log on to www.myips.org/learnmore.

For interview requests please contact Deana Haworth at 317.408.8185.

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