icon-gsp-growth icon-gsp-instruction icon-gsp-talent icon-gsp-collaboration icon-gsp-time icon-gsp-child icon-get-started-magnifying-glass icon-get-started-partner icon-get-started-tools-pubs icon-get-started-workshops UnitedSchoolCenteredSystems Bookmarked in My ERS Bookmark in My ERS Share page via email Share page via Facebook Share page via Linked In Share page via Twitter

Indianapolis Public Schools

District Partner 2014, 2015-present

ERS is partnering with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to perform a deep-dive financial analysis and support the transition to Student-Based Allocations (also known as Weighted Student Funding or Student Based Budgeting), building off of past work on IPS’ teacher compensation strategy.


"Sustainable transformation takes time... and change isn’t always pretty - even when it’s well-calculated. But we are progressing to a culture of exceptional service and excellent student outcomes." 
-Dr. Lewis Ferebee, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools

District Facts

IPS serves about 30,000 students, three-quarters of whom qualify for free-and-reduced-price lunch. Similar to many large urban districts, IPS struggles to improve student achievement and graduation rates, but 2015 marked the beginning of several key opportunities for IPS.

In August, not only did IPS sign a transformational teacher contract, but they also launched a new strategic plan. They are focused on supporting schools to vary their approaches to instruction, personnel and operations, and an equitable allocation of resources based upon what is needed to ensure successful outcomes for students, among other goals.

Work Focus


  • Support for implementation of Student Based Allocation: Continuing our work from the prior year, ERS hopes to assist IPS build out their SBA model while helping implement the training and processes needed for full operation.
  • Strategic School Design cohort work: Continuing our work from the prior year, ERS will work closely with a cohort of schools to help understand new flexibilities and design more effective schools.
  • Portfolio and financial modeling support: One of IPS’ main challenges are they have a number of schools that are small in size, have small grade sizes, or are inefficient in the allocation of resources. ERS hopes to help build a tool that will allow them to think more strategically about their portfolio decisions. 


  • Resource mapping:  Conduct the financial analysis portion of the ERS’ resource mapping process, which assesses how the district's use of people, time, and money aligns with its priorities
  • Support for transition to Student Based Allocations:  Support IPS in developing a new funding model where dollars follow individual students, based on student need (also known as Weighted Student Funding or Student-Based Budgeting), beginning with a readiness assessment
  • System 20/20 assessment: Surveyed IPS’ structures and policies, as well as the actual use of resources like people, time, and money, across seven areas (including Teaching, Leadership, Funding, and others); compared to best practices backed by research and ERS’ experience with districts
  • Support for negotiations:  Analyzed current workforce and compensation spending patterns with refreshed data from SY2014-15, projected costs and savings for various compensation strategies, and advised on compensation and career path strategies based on our experience with peer districts


  • Support for negotiations:  Provided research and analysis to help IPS negotiate a contract that would: comply with a 2011 state law restricting pay for education credits and experience, fit within current budget constraints, and prove sustainable over time
  • Data inventory: Examined how well IPS’ existing data infrastructure enables strategic planning and management of teaching talent, and gave recommendations for how to make it more effective in the future
  • Policy analysis and recommendations: Reviewed district and state policies and practices to identify those that support or inhibit strategic changes to resource use
  • Compensation model: Provided the district an Excel model which will allow them to analyze the cost or savings from new contract provisions in the future

Findings and Outcomes


  • In the summer, IPS and its teachers’ union signed a transformational new contract which aligns with best practices from across the country and sets up IPS to:
    • Differentiate compensation based on roles and responsibilities
    • Set starting salaries to meet market demand
    • Shift pay away from years of experience and advanced-degree attainment and emphasize extra pay for effectiveness and career pathways instead of small bonuses
    • Use compensation incentives to attract highly effective teachers to hard-to-staff schools and subjects
    • Accelerate the timeline to earning the maximum salary where possible
  • Read more about this work on our blog, A New Day for Indianapolis Public Schools.


  • In the fall of 2014, IPS and its teachers’ union signed a 1-year contract that was fiscally sustainable, met legislative mandates, and was aligned to the district’s vision. This contract set the foundation for further collaboration between the two groups for the next contract negotiation in the summer of 2015.
  • Some key provisions were:
    • "Experience steps" tied to effectiveness: All effective and highly effective teachers continue to receive step increases in salary. The savings from withholding step increases for ineffective and improvement-needed teachers will be invested in other aspects of the compensation system (e.g. leadership roles).
    • Elimination of education pay: Teachers earning an advanced degree after the 2014-15 school year will no longer receive additional pay for it. This change will generate annual savings that can be reinvested in other parts of the compensation system.
    • New leadership roles for teachers
    • Loyalty stipend for most returning IPS teachers
    • Flexibility to hire new teachers at the appropriate level of pay: IPS will be able to hire new teachers to priority schools or high-needs areas at up to three salary steps higher than their experience would suggest.

« View All Partners

Stay Informed

Stay in the know with the latest news and happenings.

480 Pleasant Street, Suite C - 200

Watertown, MA 02472


Get in Touch

Want to talk to someone directly?

Send us an email at: contact@erstrategies.org

© 2023 Education Resource Strategies | All Rights Reserved.
Close ×

Stay Informed

Stay in the know with the latest news and happenings.