INDIANAPOLIS–Indianapolis Public Schools has decided to delay the vote on one of its referendums in its school restructuring plan. That vote was supposed to happen Thursday night.
If approved, it would raise about $50 million annually through 2031. The district says that money would go toward expanding programs in schools to “make educational and academic opportunities across the district more equitable.”
The proposed referendum has been criticized by leaders of nearly 30 charter schools. Some critics say it would make the racial and socioeconomic equity gap larger if the referendum is approved. The IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson has previously said the district would not share referendum money with independent charter schools.
The board now has until Friday, Feb. 17 to certify any referendum question that will be on the May 2, 2023 primary ballot. That gives them 64 days — or just over two months — to settle on the choice. If they miss that date, they would have until Aug. 1 to certify the question to get it on the general election ballot.
In January, three new board members elected in November will take office in January. All three of them told voters they would vote no on the plan which is going by the name “Rebuilding Stronger.”
The IPS board approved a $410 million capital referendum resolution earlier this month.
“The specifics of the operating referendum are still under consideration as we continue conversations with our partners. We remain committed to continued transparency and to delivering on our Rebuilding Stronger plan and earning our community’s support,” said Marc Ransford, media relations manager for IPS.
The Stand for Children Indiana’s Executive Director Justin Ohlemiller, issued a statement Thursday in response to IPS board commissioners removing the operating referendum from the meeting agenda:
We appreciate Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson and the IPS board for removing the referendum from tonight’s agenda. With a major investment like this, which taxpayers will be asked to pay meaningful dollars on the promise of improved opportunities for IPS students, it’s critical that we get this right. That means ensuring the funding is shared to benefit every IPS student equally, no matter what type of school they attend. There’s certainly more work ahead to address concerns that have been voiced these last few weeks. That work will hopefully be made easier by giving parents and community partners more time to ask questions and share feedback on the referendum. We look forward to the ongoing discussions between the district, parents, school leaders and community partners. We remain hopeful that changes can be made that will allow our organization to eventually get behind this major investment in IPS. The dialogue over the next few weeks will be crucial.
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