The Mind Trusts’s Response to the Updated Rebuilding Stronger Plan
At the October board action meeting, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) presented an updated Rebuilding Stronger plan to the community. The board will vote on the plan in November.
We continue to appreciate the leadership of Dr. Johnson and the IPS Board of School Commissioners. At the same time, The Mind Trust believes the updated plan still does not sufficiently address the concerns of Black and Latino families. As we shared in our response to the first draft of the plan, the voices of families who are most impacted by the district’s proposed changes should inform the final version.
Families ask for expansion of proven school models
Over the last few weeks, Black and Latino families have questioned the growth of Center for Inquiry (CFI) and Montessori models and have advocated for the district to partner with existing charter school networks that are proven to serve students of color well. The Mind Trust is hopeful the IPS Board of Commissioners and leadership will continue to engage with families and use their input to grow proven, sought-after options.
Local media have highlighted family concerns:
- Packed IPS board meeting shows parents’ concern over Rebuilding Stronger plan, by Caroline Back, Indianapolis Star
- Minority parents to IPS leaders: Address equity gaps before vote on ‘Rebuilding Stronger’, by Jade Jackson, WISH TV
- IPS parents advocate for more equitable education for students, by Logan Gay and Emily Longnecker, WTHR
Need for a more proactive approach for unused facilities
Given legislative constraints that require districts to make available unused buildings to charter operators for a $1 sale or lease, IPS is severely limited when it comes to repurposing closed school buildings. Many of the neighborhoods where schools will close are in dire need of stability, so solutions should be identified with urgency.
At the October board action meeting, the Executive Director of Victory College Prep (VCP), Ryan Gall, gave a public comment that shared their intention to use the $1 law for Paul I. Miller School 114. VCP is a public charter school that has served the southeast side of Indianapolis for 17 years. It is likely that additional charter schools will voice similar plans.
This is all the more reason for the district to proactively partner with quality charter operators with proven track records on the front end of the plan. If not, IPS will lose control over what happens to the buildings as prescribed within the state’s unused facility law.
More information needed on proposed $810 million referendum
IPS also shared their plan to ask the community to vote on an $810 million referendum next May. The Mind Trust is interested in learning more about how these funds can serve all public school students, including independent charter schools within district boundaries.
The students and families most impacted by IPS’ Rebuilding Stronger plan should be at the center of decision making. Students of color and those who are experiencing poverty make up the majority of families being served by IPS. The Mind Trust is committed to standing with families who have been historically left out of systemic change. We look forward to continuing to work with the community and district to work toward a solution that benefits all students.