When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Board Action Session on Tuesday, Oct. 22, topics included a proposal for a new athletics eligibility policy, an Innovation Network schools update and a quarterly finance update.

What follows is a deeper look at some of those agenda items.

Athletics Eligibility Policy

District Athletic Director Darren Thomas presented a recommendation to realign the IPS academic eligibility policy for athletic participation.

What Audiences Need to Know:

  • The current athletics academic eligibility policy was adopted in 1999.
    • The policy was revised in 2006 to include a nine-week grading period for eligibility checks.
    • It is the most stringent policy in central Indiana.
    • It was intended to raise the bar for student athletes.
    • IPS anticipated other districts and the IHSAA would also adopt tougher policies. They did not.
  • IPS is out of alignment with other districts and the IHSAA.
    • The IHSAA has no GPA requirement and only requires students to pass 70% of the maximum number of courses allowed. They have no attendance requirement.
    • IPS is the only school district with a letter grade requirement (no more than two grades below a “C”) and an attendance requirement (90%).
  • The current policy has produced negative results including:
    • Lower participation rates.
    • Fewer competitive programs.
    • Eligible students missing out on an opportunity to play.
    • Students choosing non-IPS schools.

Key Messages:

  • The recommended eligibility policy will:
    • Move to assist and not dismiss struggling students.
    • Allow more IPS students to be further engaged and receive the benefits of sports participation.
    • Mandate student tables for students with a GPA below 2.0.
  • Enforce existing behavioral standards and attendance requirements.
    • The proposed policy will provide a positive impact to more students including:
    • Increased student engagement.
    • Academic support for student athletes.
    • More competitive programs.
    • Alignment with other districts and the state.

ACTION: Passed 6-0

Innovation Agreement Updates

Chief Portfolio Officer Jamie VanDeWalle presented two Innovation Network school agreement updates for approval.

What Audiences Need to Know:

  • In June 2019, the IPS Board of School Commissioners approved a one-year pause for Thrival Indy to:
    • Find a fit in the IPS All-Choice High School model.
    • Develop a long-term plan for financial sustainability.
    • Plan sustainable staffing.
    • Ensure students are well-prepared for an extended study-abroad experience.
  • According to a Memorandum of Understanding for Thrival Indy, the following would be decided by Dec. 15, 2019:
    • Grades served.
    • Type of implementation (school, program, etc.).
    • Location for study abroad.
    • School location.
    • Enrollment targets for January 2020.
    • Budget and staffing model.
    • Selection of a school leader.

Key Messages:

  • Proposed updates for Thrival Indy include:
    • Serving Grades 9–12, starting with Grade 9 and growing slowly over four years.
    • IPS LEA Innovation Network school.
    • Study abroad takes place in Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.
    • The school will be located in Arlington Middle School.
    • Target 35 students by the end of the Round 1 enrollment window and around 80 students by the end of round 2.
    • India Hui would remain the school leader.
  • Proposed updates for the Cold Spring School amendment include:
    • Expanding from Grades K–6 to Grades K–8 over the next two years.
    • For two years in a row, Cold Spring has been the fourth or fifth most popular IPS Choice program.

1 of only 78 stem certified schools in state. Growth has trended 17% above other IPS programs.
Cold spring is going to K-8 due to support from Marian University

ACTION: Passed 4-2

Quarterly Finance Update

Chief Financial Officer Weston Young presented the quarterly finance update for the first quarter of the 2019–20 school year.

Key Messages:

  • IPS has provided internal and external stakeholders details related to the 2019–20 school year Student-Based Allocations for each school.
    • A report of allocations by school has been posted on myips.org on the Finance page.
      SBA supports 24000 students of 50 schools. Total of $187,104,176.
  • IPS continues to advocate for equitable resources with external stakeholders to serve all students, regardless of need.
    • Federal and state funding gaps continue for students with high needs, including Special Education (SPED) and English Language Learners (ELL).
      Expenditures for special education and ESL capture around 10% of state tuition support
  • The IPS property tax base has experienced an overall increase in value in the past decade. The assessed value is projected to increase an average of 2.8% over the next decade.
    SBA supports 24000 students of 50 schools. Total of $187,104,176.

ACTION: For Information Only