Chamber says it would back IPS tax hike request if district made certain cuts

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is considering backing a tax hike request by Indianapolis Public Schools.

But it wants the state's largest school district to cut staff, bus service for high schoolers and to possibly close more schools.

In response, the district said it has concerns and will keep working with the chamber.

A Chamber news release lists the following "key recommendations" from their assessment:

  • Implementing an extensive list of general operating efficiencies – from outsourcing some tech support functions to contracting out nursing support and capitalizing on pharmaceutical rebate programs – adding up to nearly $70 million in savings;
  • Reducing Central Office staff by 50%, streamlining administrative costs and aligning with the reality that many of the district’s fastest-growing (innovation) schools operate with less centralized oversight;
  • Right-sizing excess facilities – as IPS currently operates space for 43,000 students against an expected 2018-19 enrollment of just over 31,000 – shedding the equivalent of 8,600 ‘empty seats’ over three years while keeping a 10% ‘cushion’ to accommodate unexpected enrollment increases;
  • Phasing out high school bus service by exploring expansion of the district’s IndyGo pilot to serve its four remaining high schools and increasing ‘walk zones’ to curb transportation costs;
  • Reducing custodial costs with a smaller facility footprint and seeking additional savings based on a comparison of current IPS custodial staffing versus peer districts;
  • Executing the Broad Ripple High School lease proposal for educational purposes, capitalizing on this time-sensitive, $8 million opportunity for the property;
  • Along with right-sizing unused facilities, exploring the sale of the Central Office headquarters; and
  • As noted earlier, reducing teacher headcount 12% through attrition.