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IPS proposes referendums to fund rebuilding stronger plan

The referendums would include a $6 tax increase for homeowners zoned in IPS
Posted at 7:13 PM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 22:41:26-04

INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday, IPS leadership requested approval of their drafted budget plan to the IPS Board of School Commissioners to fund Rebuilding Stronger.

As IPS continues to work toward its Rebuilding Strong Initiative, IPS leadership announced how they plan to pay for the expansive changes to the district – including a $6 per month tax increase for homeowners zoned in IPS.

IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson said the following of the new updates and the impact they could have on the district.

“We will be a district that is excellent because it is equitable. We will be a district where every student can access a future of their choosing. But that vision can only be possible with these referendums. We need your support this spring to build the IPS that every student and family deserves,” Johnson said.

The October IPS Board update included other changes to the Rebuilding Stronger plan.

CFI School 2, which was originally slated to close, will now stay open and convert to a K-5 school in school year 24-25.

Frances Parker School 56 will still close, but the new facility that was planned to go in its place has now been canceled. The district has not yet determined what to do with the building but has vowed to consult with the community about the decision.

One of the public commenters at the board meeting offered insight into what could potentially happen to the facilities IPS closes. Ryan Gall, executive director of charter school Victory College Prep announced his intention to acquire Paul Miller School 114 if it is closed.

"We would hope to collaborate on this transition with the school community, but are prepared to use all available legal pathways to acquire the facility, including purchasing the school under the $1 unused facilities statute," Gall said.

Indiana law allows charter schools to purchase unused school buildings for $1. In the past, IPS has skirted that regulation by placing administrative offices in buildings that have been closed for construction, i.e. Broad Ripple High School.

Dozens of other changes to the plan were announced. They are listed in detail on the IPS website.

Funding for the Rebuilding Stronger Plan will require voters within the district to approve over $800 million in property tax referenda.

The approvals would include a $410 million capital referendum to invest in district facilities — indoors and out — and ensure students go to school in safe, warm, welcoming buildings and that the communities around our schools benefit from these investments.

It would also include a vote to approve a $400 million referendum ($50 million per year through 2031) that would go toward supporting compensation for quality teachers.

“IPS has proven to be responsible fiscal stewards, keeping the promises made in 2018 to invest in teachers and staff — and now we are looking to the community again to support this essential investment in our buildings and our people,” Kenneth Allen, IPS Commissioner said. “We are not asking you to take anything on faith — we’ve worked with the community at every step of the way and will continue to be accountable and transparent in our actions. We are, however, asking you to have faith in our students — to show they are worth this investment.”

Community support for IPS through referendums is not new. IPS required a referendum vote in 2018. The new plan, if approved, will replace the 2018 referendum.

IPS plans to ask the board to vote on the final version of Rebuilding Stronger on November 17.