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INDIANAPOLIS–Indianapolis Public Schools says it has issues with some of the recommendations made by the Indy Chamber to save the district nearly $500 million, over the next eight years. Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee said in a prepared statement that he does not believe closing some IPS schools is a good idea.

“The call to close a devastating number of our schools in some of Indianapolis’ most challenged neighborhoods with very little public process is concerning,” said Ferebee.

What the Chamber says IPS needs to do

The Indy Chamber, after a four-month study, also recommended slightly increasing the number of kids in each classroom, which would allow the district to give teachers a 16 percent raise, give principals a $150,000 salary, and provide two percent raises annually, over the next eight years.

The Chamber released the results of the study Wednesday.

“We’ve proposed significant reductions in non-instructional staff, but still needed to make a modest tradeoff in class size and teacher headcount to fund higher salaries,” said Michael Huber, chief executive officer of the INdy Chamber.

“In the end, research convinced us that highly-qualified educators make the biggest impact on academic achievement; we believe that better pay for teachers and principals is well worth the added 1.5 students per classroom,” he said.

Selling the what? Stopping the what?

Other recommendations include reducing the central office staff by half; cutting bus service for high schools, instead encouraging kids to walk or take IndyGo; exploring the sale of the central office headquarters; outsourcing some services and leasing Broad Ripple High School to Purdue Polytechnic.

The Chamber study says these recommendations will allow the district to wipe out its deficit by asking the voters to approve a $100 million operating referendum and a $52 million capital referendum. 

The tax increase at minimum

For people in Marion County it would mean a 5.7 percent tax increase on all property.

“We believe, however, that a responsible referendum request cannot be anchored solely in revenue from cost savings that to this point are on paper only,” said Ferebee, after the Chamber’s recommendations were released. “We look forward to working constructively with the Chamber’s team over the next several days as we work towards an agreed upon referendum amount and IPS is committed to further action to reduce unnecessary expenditures.”

Two forums are scheduled for next week so you can learn more about the possibility that IPS could get the $100 million referendum, or more, approved for the ballot in November. 

Monday, July 16 at 6pm, a forum will be hosted by New Era Church located at 517 W. 30th St. Second, the IPS Board of School Commissioners will hold a public hearing where the Administration will share its recommendations on the operating referendum on Tuesday, July 17 at 6pm, at the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services located at 120 E. Walnut St. 

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis