INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday night, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board candidates faced voters at the last candidate forum ahead of the Nov. 8 elections. The forum was organized by the education advocacy group RISE Indy and hosted at Global Prep Academy.
"I'm here to hear what these candidates have to offer because ultimately what happens in this school or any other school will have a ripple effect," IPS parent Darrell Roberson said.
Angelina Moore and Nicole Carey are both running unopposed. Hope Hampton and Kristen Phair are duking it out for votes in district three, which covers midtown. The forum was in English with live Spanish translations. Moderator Shcarlett Estrada is a bilingual IPS parent and graduate.
"Having someone to be up there who can speak Spanish can help give confidence to some of the people who were here today," Estrada said. "My mom didn't feel, she wouldn't go to these events because she didn't feel like she should be there and she should be involved. And having someone here who speaks Spanish, it's like, ok let's go."
The Hispanic population is the fastest growing in the city, and there are more Spanish-speaking families in the district than ever before.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, English is not the first language for 21% of IPS students. Candidates spoke about the importance of bringing more bilingual services and staff to support an increasingly diverse city.
"We're seeing a lot of cultural depth in our city that we haven't experienced in years, so it's not just Spanish-speaking individuals, we have lots of new languages that folks in Indianapolis may not have been exposed to before, and it's a good thing for our city and a good thing for our district," Hampton said.
"When I think about their families that usually are also English language learners, and potentially don't speak any English at all, there's a huge barrier to access to IPS," Phair said.