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A New Day for Indianapolis Public Schools

The Indianapolis Public School Board unanimously approved a new three-year strategic plan and two-year teachers' contract with the teachers union on August 27, ending years of stagnation and uncertainty surrounding teacher pay.

Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee deserves a hearty congratulations for his hard work over the past two years to set the stage for this moment in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and for finding $12 million to invest in changes to the teachers’ contract.

Education Resource Strategies first worked with IPS in the summer of 2014 to support their one-year contract negotiation with the teachers’ union. The two-pronged focus of our commitment was to bring the contract into compliance with Indiana Public Law 90 and poise IPS for more transformational changes to teacher compensation in 2015. As we now see, bigger changes were indeed on the way.

The purpose of teacher compensation reform is to improve the ability of districts to attract, retain, and leverage a high-performing teaching force that aligns with its student-performance objectives and overall priorities. We believe IPS’ 2015-17 contract aims to do just that, and we were honored to be a part of this work with IPS again this summer.

Importantly, IPS’ new teacher contract aligns with best practices we’ve seen in districts implementing compensation redesign initiatives across the country. For example, the contract sets up IPS to:

  • Differentiate compensation based on roles and responsibilities. IPS is investing in district and school teacher leader roles, as well as Opportunity Culture teacher roles whereby excellent teachers take on more responsibility and larger class loads in exchange for a stipend, some of which reach up to $18,300.
  • Set starting salaries to meet market demand. IPS’ starting salary was more than 8% below local peers in 2014. Now, with the starting salary increased by over $4,300, a new teacher with no prior experience earns a competitive $40,000 (a change that affects approximately 500 teachers).
  • Shift pay away from years of experience and advanced-degree attainment and emphasize extra pay for effectiveness and career pathways instead of small bonuses. The 2014-15 contract agreement removed pay for the teacher’s education level and changed the traditional experience steps to ones based on teachers' effectiveness. This year, IPS built off of that progress and invested in a new salary scale that emphasizes their commitment to talented teachers, investing in roughly 3-12%increases in teachers’ base salaries.
  • Use compensation incentives to attract highly effective teachers to hard-to-staff schools and subjects. The contract allows for flexibility in pay for new hires—up to three steps higher than their experience would suggest. This could be beneficial if IPS invests in high-quality candidates to hard-to-fill priority areas.
  • Accelerate the timeline to earning the maximum salary where possible. Consistently effective teachers will now have higher increases in pay in their early-to-mid careers than before, emphasizing the value IPS places on talent in these years. Furthermore, once fully transitioned to the new salary schedule in 2016-17, these teachers could reach the max salary in 16 years rather than 25.

We’re excited at how far IPS has come in such a short amount of time and look forward to cheering them on as they continue on their path of transformation.

See additional articles covering this achievement by Chalkbeat and Education Week

A New Day for Indianapolis Public Schools
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