Opinions vary on direction for next IPS superintendent

Dr. Eugene White announced his retirement as IPS superintendent effective April 5.
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IPS is looking for a new superintendent after Dr. Eugene White announced his retirement Tuesday.

The opinions from taxpayers and community leaders differ on what to look for in a new superintendent, but there is a common theme.

White's retirement is viewed as an opportunity to make big changes and big improvements. Ideas for improving IPS schools begin with the basics. April Jaynes, the mother of an IPS student, wants preschools and existing successful schools expanded.

"I really think that could accomplish putting more students on grade level for reading, writing, math, all subject areas," Jaynes said.

A new superintendent must have classes to get students ready to work, says father William Moore.

"Mechanics, plumbers and skilled trades. Those guys make a lot of money," Moore said.

In a district where one in five students receive a special education, Le Jeanna Lee says improvements will come from more individual instruction.

"I would just like to see them focus on the children's special needs more," she said.

The selection of a new superintendent has numerous groups competing for a place at the decision-making table. Advocating drastic school reform, The Mind Trust has a plan eliminating much of the IPS central administration and move that money and authority into schools.

"Really empower school-level leadership to make decisions, run budgets and staffing, culture, curriculum. Hold those schools accountable for their results," said David Harris with The Mind Trust.

City schools, to a large degree, determine where people live, the price of their homes and who does business and creates jobs here. The Chamber of Commerce wants a leader who gets the community more involved in improving schools.

"I think we get more working together, get a better product, if we all work together and strive toward the same goal," said Angela Smith Jones, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

School board members have a daunting task of finding a new leader, taking schools in a new direction, everybody agrees on.

Some school board members have already said they are looking to take the struggling inner city school district in a in a new direction. Some are looking in the direction of The Mind Trust proposal.

First, though, they have to find an interim superintendent.