Interim leader says IPS faces daunting challenges

Peggy Hinckley

The challenges facing the interim superintendent at Indianapolis Public Schools are daunting. Peggy Hinckley knows the state's second largest school district is facing a $30 million budget deficit and declining enrollment. She told Eyewitness News there will be no miracles in her three- to four-month term, but there will likely be layoffs.

"This is a very hard job. It's a complex job," said Hinckley.

She has only been on the job three days, but already knows the challenges she faces as interim superintendent of IPS. Hinckley succeeds Eugene White, who announced his retirement in January.

"The biggest challenge facing IPS is the achievement level of some schools that have been chronically underperforming schools. We have a $30 million budget deficit in the general fund and a $10 million deficit in the transportation fund," she said.

Hinckley says a reorganization process and enrollment projections are underway to make sure IPS is streamlined and schools are ready to open next school year. Since enrollment declined by a thousand students last year, there may be cuts in staffing.

"Will there be teachers laid off?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Right now, I think we may be repositioning positions but I haven't looked at the staffing yet to see what that is," she said. "I don't think we're going to have massive layoffs. I think that's a fair statement. I think where we have layoffs will be filled mostly through attrition."

Hinckley also revised a proposal for full-day pre-school that removes nearly a million dollars in transportation costs to transport pre-schoolers.

"That really translates to about 15 teacher cuts in the most needy Title One schools and that doesn't pass my common sense test. We believe because most of these pre-school schools will be located in existing schools and neighborhoods. Parents will be able to get their children to schools there," she said.

Any proposals for full-day pre-school would take effect during the 2013-2014 school year.