Like everyone else, Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and Indianapolis Education Association (IEA) representatives were floored when Dr. Lewis Ferebee made his revelations at the IPS School Board meeting tonight—indicating that instead of a $30 million budget deficit plaguing the district, IPS actually has an $8.4 million projected surplus.
If these new figures are true, ISTA/IEA commends Dr. Ferebee for uncovering and exposing what may have been an intentional effort to hide revenue. The effects of the apparent miscommunication are staggering—on the children of IPS, the teaching force, the educational support professionals, and the IPS community at-large, each of which endured cut after cut after cut—evidently, unnecessarily.
ISTA/IEA condemns what has been purported to have occurred and can only speculate as to what possible rationale such a depiction hoped to accomplish.
A few short weeks ago, HB 1321 was presented as a tool to help save IPS from further financial distress. Because of the financial spiral that IPS appeared to be in, ISTA/IEA made the decision to partner with Superintendent Ferebee to narrow the bill’s scope and give clearer definition to what was being proposed.
If Superintendent Ferebee had the budget information earlier, perhaps the discussions would have been different. Former administrations had used the existence of a financial deficit to reduce teachers and support staff. Press reports indicate this was done to pad the budget.
ISTA commends Dr. Ferebee for initiating his own internal review. We now look ahead to confirmation of the information by an independent audit followed by future partnering opportunities with him to develop strategies that not only protect the financial security of the district but also ensure the highest quality school programming and staffing possible.
The teachers, through their exclusive representative (IEA), are best suited to work directly with Dr. Ferebee to solve whatever issues exist in IPS. We have great and dedicated teachers within IPS and we need to give them and the new superintendent the best possible chance to develop innovation without interference from outside political interests. We continue to believe that our negotiations on HB 1321 were in good faith and we expect Dr. Ferebee’s implementation of it to be grounded in meaningful collaboration with the exclusive representative and ISTA.