IPS year-round school?

Dateline: Fri 24 Sep 2010


Tecarra Bass, a staff writer for the Broad Ripple High School newspaper The Riparian, has an article about a proposal (plan?) for Indianapolis Public Schools to go to a full-year calendar. (As an aside, the advisor fot the Riparian is former Star features and education writer Kathy Whyde Jesse).

The Star had a story Sept. 13; other than that, not much has been written.

Says Bass:

"There will be five community meetings that will be scheduled, including one here at Broad Ripple at 7 p.m. Oct. 14.

“'Research shows that for urban children, this is a better calendar for them to follow,' without big gaps of time between school sessions, said (Mary Louise) Bewley, (who handles communications for IPS.)

"Even though nothing will change about the school, the calendar will. If the decision is final, students will have nine weeks in school, three weeks out of school and five weeks for summer break. The three weeks outside of school will be called an intercession, when students who need time to catch up on school work will have the opportunity to do so.

"The big gap that happens during summer break is what the administration is trying to avoid, Bewley said. In the fall, teachers spend most of that first school month trying to refresh the student’s memory and re-teaching things, she said."

Bass notes that Warren Township adopted this plan last year; Pike has had it for years, and it's been successful. Many IPS employees and supposedly the union are behind the plan. Among subjects that would be taught more smoothly? Math. Most math teachers spend a lot of time reviewing material that has been forgotten. Shorter breaks would in theory eliminate some of this as an issue.

BUT the concern voiced among some IPS supporters is that parents in the district don't really know this is in the works; these parents are mostly a working class group, and how will they be able to provide child-care during three-week breaks? (Bewley said in the Star that programs would be offered).

Dr. Eugene White, superintendent, appears to have made up his mind to go forward; he has the votes he needs for the school board to pass this.

But Bass' article quotes in the comments section a thoughtful student, who raises some questions and concerns -- all legit:

Says Kelsi Graham:

"One problem that has been brought to my attention is that for these three week long breaks some parents that refuse to leave their children at home by themselves, will have to take off three weeks of work. Alot, if not, I’m sure most of the IPS parents can’t afford that. Alot of IPS students don’t eat if they are not school. Alot of IPS students will be out on the street into no good if they are left alone at home. If someone figures out a way to make it so that parents won’t have to worry about any of this, then great! The idea is wonderful. The summer job thing isn’t going to work either like Mrs. Johnston said.
The thing is, I’m a student and i know what its like for kids that don’t want to be home. For some students school is their home, a safe place. And for the summer they can go to summer camp to escape. But there is no Fall Camp, or Spring Camp, or Winter Camp. If we need to be reminded of what we’ve been taught assign a longer reading assignment. – Kelsi Graham"

This needs discussion. Will the community forums have a good turnout?






Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The "Community Forums" (HEAVY air quotes) will be typical Gene White set-ups. His way or the highway.

Mary Louise will try mightily, to manage this PR mess. She should've bene fired after the video-tape incident, but she wasn't. Her offices costs heavy six figures to run each year, and that's our tax dollars, PR-ing us to death. It's ridiculous.

That said, year-round school at IPS, is like re-arranging the deck chairs. The school calendar isn't IPS's problem.

Their problem is budget. They have too many older inefficient buildings that are sucking cash like a Hoover.

Their student body is disproportionately difficult to educate, and they're not getting sufficient funding to do that.

Their governance structure is beyond broken. It's hopelessly mired in Superintendent-envy. A couple of new board members are keeping their eyes open, but I can count. So can Eugene. It's 5-2 for anything he wants.

I don't have an answwer. But this much is certain: superintendents are bred to waive big new expensive programs in front of patrons. Most Supers don't flap their arms until they have the votes.

Gene has the votes.

Forums? A joke.

Year-round school? Perhaps an admirable experiment. But not on a school district that is bleeding from every possible crack.

One possible solution: year-round would make building use more efficient, and that could lead to closing more schools. That's needed. I know closings add to neighborhood woes. But IPS cannot continue to support the system as it now stands.

There aren't enough fingers to plug the hole sin the dikes.

2010-09-24 11:12:34

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Why haven't we been reading about this in The Star? After all, The Star is "SAVING THE CHILDREN!!!"

IPS is a distinctive school district because it is urban and very low-income (for the most part).

The issues become more complex than in suburban districts, as the student pointed out in Ruth's blog post.

Perhaps on the way to "Saving The Children!!!" The Star could give its readers more than a superficial treatment of this developing story.

2010-09-24 13:25:42

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

By the way....

TTT. I agree about the misuse of taxpayer funds by the IPS administration.

Get to be a buddy of the super, get a six-figure job - no matter if you have any qualifications.

High school basketball coaches being paid six figures.

But the Indianapolis media, including The Star, seems to be oblivious to all of this.
Or, they're afraid to wade into it.

Remember Nixon and his "Imperial Presidency."

That is how IPS is currently being administered.

Sadly, there are no Woodwards or Bernsteins in The Indianapolis news media who have the guts to take this on.

2010-09-24 21:26:58

hendy [Member] said:

But then they'd have to get to the other root of the problem: all the scared white folk done moved outta the county and ain't nobody left to pay no taxes. They all in them fancy schools wif da million dollar swimmin pools and the football stadiums like NoterDame.

But that mayor, he be voted in on no damn property taxes. Cause taxes be evil. So shake it at the real jones: lyin politicians. Again.

2010-09-24 22:02:27

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Whitebeard, there are not six-figure basketball coaches. That's urban myth. But Dr. White did hire his son away from Pike HS to fill a coaching/admin role.

His son's a very nice guy, but...in no way was he the most-qualified for the job. The school board showed their true colors when they didn't utter a peep on that score.

2010-09-25 04:42:51

Whitebeard [unverified] said:


How do you know for certain that it is "urban myth" about the inflated basketball coach salaries? What kind of information do you have that disputes this?

Accusations of one or two high school basketball coaches in IPS being paid over $100,000 have been made repeatedly in public forums and IPS has never disputed it.

What is being written/said is that the coaches are given other titles (besides "coach") that sound impressive but that involve relatively little actual work.

I don't have the time nor energy to try to track this down in the IPS budget. But the school board can't get "line item" details of the budget from the administration (as was reported in the local news media), so I doubt if I could either.

2010-09-25 11:56:14

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The salary schedule contains no single teacher or coach making $100,000. There isn't one high school coach or teacher in the whole state who makes $100,000. Trust me on that.

The IPS salary schedule was published in The Star last spring. I just tried to go to the link, but it's expired. I read it at the time.

The last time I looked at statewide teacher information, the highest-paid teacher was a 48-year veteran in Hammond or East Chicago, who made $81,000. I believe that was last year or 2008.

And, I've got more than passing experience with school budgets. :-)

Your claim makes good headlines in some quarters. Frankly, I wish some teachers were paid $100,000. Remember this: in most cases (not all), coaches are teachers first. By law, all extra pay is defined by contract.

By contrast, there were over 25 admins who made over six figures in IPS last year. Grrrrrrr

2010-09-25 15:24:37

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

TTT - As I understand it, the basketball coaches in question were/are paid as administrators/coaches based upon their administrating certain general school population sports activity programs, etc., etc. So, they would be listed as IPS special program directors, not only teachers, in a salary schedule.

(I wish someone with more specific "insider" knowledge of this situation would jump into the discussion here).

Obviously, neither of us has specific data to cite, but sources that appear to me to be reliable have made this public in numerous forums.

I remember reading in The Star that an athletic director at Tech was hired in at well over $100,000. Can't remember when that was published, but within the past two-three years.

My point was/is that there is quite a bit of public concern in many circles about how taxpayer funds are being utilized by IPS.

The accountability for that spending appears to be weak at best. We expect public accountability from every other agency which spends taxpayer money, so why not from the largest school district in Indiana?

I second your "Grrrr" about the 25-plus IPS adminis making over six figures.

2010-09-25 19:02:15

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Correction on my previous post.

I did some web hunting and found IPS salary figures (made public by Indianabarrister.com)
which reported salaries for IPS athletic directors - from back in the fall of 2009 - averaging in the high $80,000s to the mid-$90,000s.

Those may be base salaries, not including additional "perks." I don't know. And, they do represent those salaries from last school year.

A little less pay than I wrote in my previous post, but I sure wouldn't turn it down if I was still physically able to work.

I won't be posting on this string again because my point has been made. I'm getting tired of my own comments (smile).

2010-09-26 00:01:17

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I found the database, too...at first The Star wanted me to pay for it, but I was able to sneak around and get it without paying.

It's just IPS. But, as school systems go, they're average-to-above average, pay-wise. And remember, almost everyone in school work is paid based on years of experience. That's another blog post...

Last year there were no coaches making anything close to $100,000. There were 4-5 coaches who were paid without being teachers--that's permissible. Their salaries were in the $5,000-12,000 range for coaching duties only.

Last year, no AD also coached at the time the salary schedule was put together. I believe that changed with a couple of resignations.

2010-09-26 06:18:20

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Last year there was at least one basketball coach making more than $100,000 in IPS.

That has nothing to do with AD salaries and I never wrote that it did.

I found it well-documented on the web last night (the 100K coach) and could post the link here, but this line of discussion is probably boring most people to death so I will just leave it at that.

TTT, sometimes it seems you are debating yourself. I've got a brother like that; disagrees with everything someone says even if he ends up disagreeing with himself.

Got me to feeling once again that putting my comments on this blog is a waste of the little bit of energy and stamina that I have remaining.

2010-09-26 16:17:49

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I'm not here to be your pysch couch, Whitebeard, but I couldn't find any coach making $100,000. Factually or otherwise.

In fact, most of the coaches i know do it for anywhere from $4000-$12000 extra a year, on top of their teacher salaries. Those extra amounts are governed by the master contract teachers have with the school district.

Please enlighten me.

2010-09-27 05:50:51

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Just one more thought, and I'll gladly wise-up, if you can provide actual facts:

Perhaps you confuse "arguing with myself" (??) with my natural recoiling against urban legend and web-stories. I don't like cheap, easy answers, because in many area os debate, especially schools, none of the subjects fit that quick/easy mode. And my experience is, too often, those answers are tied up in oft-repeated, but seldom-documented legend.

There are many subjects on which I have a lot to learn. School governance and budgets, not so much. But I'll try. If you will.

2010-09-27 05:53:58

ruthholl [Member] said:

I learn something from each of your comments. Thank you all.

2010-09-27 12:56:39

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I placed a caal this morn to my favorite school accounting mole.

Nobody made six figures to coach anything in IPS last year. One caveat: public funds. There is one person who stepped up to coach a coach-less tea at the last minute, who, I'm toldm, had other IPS duties that raised the overall salary to $104,000. I am not sure if that person was an admin or teacher...at that salary level, likely a hybrid.

Just FYI, the contract-approved salary schedule includes everything from yearbook sponsor, to choir director, to senior class sponsor, and all coaching assignments.

The teachers union and administration bargain those payments. I believe the Superintendent has the authority to exceed the extra-pay provisions, if he finds private funds. Dr. White has a history of that. Im not sure if those private sources are required to be run-through the IPS books.

So if my teacher salary was $45,000, and I got $12,000 for coaching boys' basketball at Broad Ripple, that's $57,000 total. I'm taxed on all of it, and the entire amount goes toward my retirement package, etc. If, in this example, Dr. White thought I was so outstanding that I needed an extra $20,000 for running summer BB camps or something, he could technically find that money privately.

Ruthie--you would be stunned at these local school foundations. They're basically Superintendent's Slush Funds. Seriously.

I'm trying to find out if that has happened in IPS. It might not be easy, and I won't burn my source.

2010-09-27 13:21:41

melony [unverified] said:

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2010-09-28 16:36:00

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