IPS Elections: What Happened?

Referendum, School Board, and More

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IPS Elections: What Happened?

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    In the November election, three positions on the school board were up for election, and the district put two referenda on the ballot in order to continue operating, raise teacher pay and expand security. The results of these elections, as well as recent developments with the superintendent, mean that some big changes may be coming to IPS.

School Board:

    In the school board all the incumbents running lost, a sign that most people seem to be wanting change. Two of the three candidates that won, Susan Collins and Taria Slacks, ran on a platform that is critical of the superintendent’s policies. On the other hand, Evan Hawkins won District 3 on a platform which echoed the superintendent closely.

With the two new board members who are critical of charters and are supported by the teachers union joining Commissioner Elizabeth Gore as a voting block, it will be far more difficult for the other four members to continue to push an agenda of expanding innovation schools and following the demands of the business community.

Complicating this matter is the fact that Dr. Ferebee will cease to operate as superintendent as soon as January, just when the new board members come in. This means the first thing they will be doing is choosing a new superintendent or at least a interim superintendent. If the board chooses a superintendent who has policies which are significantly different from Ferebee’s, then we may see what often happens when a reform minded superintendent is replaced, when the district re-remakes itself with significant policy and procedural changes.

The Referendum:

The referenda that IPS put on the ballot passed overwhelmingly, with both receiving about 75% of the vote. One referendum gives IPS an additional $272 million in tax funds over eight years to pay for operating costs, especially teacher raises. The other referendum raised $52 million for building upkeep and security upgrades. Superintendent Ferebee has said that he sees these results as a vote of confidence for the direction the district is going in.

It is still not clear how the money will be precisely distributed, as IPS said they’ve still not decided how they should allocate the money. Principal O’day emphasized the importance of not rushing this decision. It goes back to the issue of us making sure that we are making good use of taxpayer dollars.”

One of these major considerations in this is how the teachers will receive their raises. According to Mr. O’day, the district is “currently in negotiations with the IEA- the Indiana educators association because we have to come into agreement in regards of salaries and contracts.”