Innovation network schools

student sitting in classroom

Innovation Network Schools are public schools enabled by Indiana state laws that allow school districts to convert, open new, or restart existing schools as new, autonomous schools with their own nonprofit boards. These schools are exempt from most district practices and have “full operational autonomy” under Indiana state law. Since 2016, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 21 Innovation Network Schools.

Innovation Network Schools combine the freedoms and flexibilities of successful autonomous schools with the financial support and services of a district school. Students and families can benefit from a more nimble education environment and school leadership can have the autonomy to make decisions for that meet the unique needs of their community.

This groundbreaking opportunity gives exceptional school leaders and operators the ability to partner with Indianapolis’s largest district, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), to serve students by creating new schools or by restarting chronically underperforming schools. The IPS Board of Commissioners must vote to approve new Innovation Network school partners.

There are five types of IPS Innovation Network Schools:

New School Launch — A new school that opens in partnership with IPS facilities and shared services.

Charter as New Partner — Charter schools, either new or existing, within the IPS boundaries may enter into a partnership with IPS via an Innovation Network Agreement. This allows access to shared services such as food service, transportation and professional development, and provides the ability to create a proximity boundary for enrollment.

Restarts — A partner applies to restart a chronically under-performing school that has been recommended for this intervention by district leadership.

Conversion — An existing IPS school that shows outstanding leadership and team capacity may apply to convert their school.

Jumpstart — An existing IPS school in need of intervention due to student outcomes may convert to an Innovation Network School based on the will of the school community and building leadership as a self-initiated improvement strategy.

Key conditions for success

Innovation Network Schools share key conditions for creating successful outcomes for students:

  • Exceptional school leaders with the talent and vision to build schools where teachers are supported and students achieve at high levels.
  • School-level autonomy that empowers leaders and teachers to make the critical decisions necessary to meet the needs of students and families.
  • High levels of accountability that hold schools to rigorous academic, financial, and governance standards