Newly installed Indianapolis Public School Board members next week will reconsider two proposals that were nixed last year before three new members were elected.
School board president Diane Arnold said she’s confident that Superintendent Lewis Ferebee will have the votes this time around to approve a contract with Boston-based Teach Plus to pay and support teacher leaders for mentoring their peers. The board also will likely forge a deal with two Mind Trust fellowship winners to use a new school management plan modeled after the Phalen Leadership Academy’s charter school to overhaul a troubled IPS school.
Days before the November election, the board narrowly rejected the Teach Plus contract, with defeated board members leading the charge. The partnership with the fellowship winners was voted down in December. New board members Mary Ann Sullivan, Kelly Bentley and LaNier Nichols campaigned on promises that they would support partnerships with outside groups that offered ideas to improve the district. Their terms are just days old.
“They’re both innovative programs to help our struggling schools,” Arnold said. “I think it’s time to get them done. This board needs to be about looking at the big picture, moving forward and making the changes that need to be changed instead of getting bogged down in micromanaging and personal vendettas.”
Last year, some board members questioned both the cost and the motivation behind making the deals with Teach Plus and the Mind Trust fellows. Others accused them of playing politics before a competitive school board election.
Board member Gayle Cosby, who voted against both deals, said she still has concerns with the Teach Plus proposal, which is expected to cost IPS more than $740,000 over three years.
“This was rolled out a bit prematurely,” Cosby said. “The concern I have with this particular venture is that we’re not building our own capacity. We’re spending a lot of outside money on something I thought we could be able to do in house. I think we can do it in a more financially responsible way.”
Plans for IPS to partner with the Mind Trust fellows using a state law that allows the district to collaborate with charter school groups was voted down after then-board President Annie Roof said she had concerns with how the winning ideas were selected.
New votes on both plans are expected at the board’s Jan. 27 meeting.