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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Hope Hampton wins only contested IPS school board race

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Three new members were approved by voters Nov. 8 to join the Indianapolis Public Schools Board in January. The incoming commissioners to the seven-member board have been critical of the district’s plan to merge and close schools and change grade configurations, and IPS’s partnerships with charter schools.

Hope Hampton won with nearly 56% of the District 3 vote, the sole contested IPS race, based on unofficial results from the Marion County Election Board. That seat covers the north side, from Mapleton Fall Creek through Broad Ripple and a portion on the east side to Forest Manor.

“​​For me, this is a full circle moment,” said Hampton, the owner of the local interior design company Cozy. “​​I come from a family who didn’t vote. And so for me to even be in a race and I’ve been voting since I was 18 years old and to now submit my own name to advance the cause of kids that I’ve been caring for for over three decades is huge.”

The other winners are Nicole Carey for District 5 and Angelia Moore for the at-large seat. Both races were uncontested. The Marion County Election Board is expected to certify results by Nov. 21.

The race to lead Indiana’s largest school district is typically a heated battle. But some community members were dissuaded from running this year because they didn’t have the financial contributions needed to win. 

Hampton raised around $85,100, according to pre-election campaign finance reports. The majority came from a single political action committee. Phair raised about $12,600.

An analysis by WFYI and Chalkbeat Indiana found 14 out of the 17 IPS candidates who raised more money than their opponent over the past decade won a seat on the Indianapolis board.

Before the election results were released, District 3 candidate Kristen Phair, a parent of three IPS students, said this election was important to her because she’s invested in taking care of teachers so they can support students.

“I have been volunteering in the schools for the last year and seeing how our teachers are rising to the occasion of educating our students in a post-COVID world where our teachers are also often under-resourced and we have major staffing shortages,” said Phair outside a polling site.

New members will oversee controversial “Rebuilding Stronger” plan

Now the winners are expected to oversee IPS’s controversial proposed “Rebuilding Stronger” initiative to overhaul the district by closing and merging buildings and changing grade configurations in an attempt to boost academic performance while also reallocating its budget.

Last month, all four IPS candidates said they would vote against the original plan. The district recently announced minor updates, but while polling on Election Day, most of the candidates said their answers have changed. Phair, Carey and Moore said they are now undecided. Hampton still said she would vote against the district’s proposed changes.

Meet the new board members

District 5, parts of downtown and the near north side

Carey is the founder of two local businesses: Anda Spanish, an early childhood language acquisition company; and she serves as the chief executive officer of Indy Equity Collaborative, a consulting firm that offers diversity, equity and inclusion support to schools. Her race was uncontested, but Carey raised over $9,000.

Carey said she’s honored to be a school board member and she plans to focus on building relationships with community members over the next two months.

“I’m really trying to learn from the community of things that have worked well and haven’t worked well with representatives in the past,” said Carey. “I think that’s my number one goal. But also to work with current commissioners to see if there are ways that we can get some mentoring in the next couple of weeks, and so that transition of becoming a board member is a little bit smoother.”

At-Large, includes the entire school district

Moore is the deputy director of the Fay Biccard Glick Community Center. She previously worked for IPS as the senior coordinator in portfolio management — the office that oversees charter schools in the district. Her race was uncontested, but Moore raised over $3,000.

“I think it’s time for us to put students first,” said Moore. “Make sure that our students are heard and that the parents get to choose to make choices that are best for their students, and we put that focus back. We know that our students of color still have a lot of work to do for that achievement gap and making sure that we’re focusing on that first, and then letting the adult things happen outside of that.”

Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at egabriel@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.

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