Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indianapolis Schools Chief: If The Budget's Cut Further, Expect Pain In Classrooms

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent Eugene White outlines a $27 million budget-cutting proposal to an audience of roughly 100 people at the district's downtown headquarters Thursday.

    “This is about our last time that we can do cuts and not impact programs or activities in our school district,” Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent Eugene White told StateImpact after detailing $27 million in proposed budget reductions in a public meeting Friday. 

    94 teachers in the state’s largest school district received layoff notices because of the cuts and more than 70 more district administrators and staff could lose their jobs.

    White says the district bares some responsibility for the cuts, largely necessitated by a loss of funding caused by the state’s takeover of four IPS schools this summer.

    But after $120 million in general fund cuts over the last five years — including 350 job cuts last year alone — White says the district has hit bone.

    Outside of teaching force reductions, this year’s cuts come from trimming budgets for support and clerical staff, the elimination of a dozen media specialist and three school psychologist positions, and reductions to program and athletic budgets, among other things.

    White says the cuts were kept out of the classroom as much as possible.

    “We added one student to the teacher-pupil ratio. Other than that, we tried to hold the line,” White told roughly 100 people at the meeting Friday.

    Nearly two dozen administrator positions are likely going away as well. A proposal from The Mind Trust has called for even deeper administrative cuts at the district.

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    IPS superintendent Eugene White (left) looks on as a member of the public makes his comments. White was leading a meeting detailing cuts in Indianapolis Public Schools.

    White says the pain could have been mitigated if a state decision didn’t allow the companies taking over Emma Donnan Middle School and Howe, Manual, and Arlington High Schools to be paid as though more students attend those schools than actually will attend. (The Indy Star‘s Scott Elliott explains that decision much better than I can.)

    White told StateImpact:

    We could have a lot of students that we don’t get funding for. And that’s gonna place a burden on us and it’s not gonna be fair. They have the money, we have the students. I know the cliche about the money following the child — many years, that could hurt IPS. Now, we want the money to follow the child.

    An Indiana Department of Education spokesperson told The Star that IPS was being treated fairly.

    Of course, the district’s cuts meant incredibly difficult moments for IPS teachers when they were first announced earlier this month. One teacher at Arsenal Tech High School blogged about his thoughts.

    What do you make of the cuts in IPS? Share your thoughts in the comments section.



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