From the Desk of the Executive Director

 

IAPSS hosted nearly 60 attendees at this year’s AASA National Education Conference in San Diego. This is the largest contingent in several years to represent Indiana at the AASA Conference. Our congratulations to all who attended and by all reports, it was a very successful, educational and professionally enlightening experience for the Indiana school leaders. Several remarked about the rare opportunity to interface with other superintendents from other states and discuss common areas of interest and tactics of leadership. A special thanks goes to our President Dr. Robert Taylor, Superintendent Lebanon Community Schools, and Dr. Rocky Killion, Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Superintendent West Lafayette Schools, for their stellar representation and leadership for our Indiana school leaders in San Diego. We need to thank Caleb Wilson and American Fidelity for hosting the President’s and Indiana SOY reception for our Indiana group on Friday night of the conference. We also need to thank Education Networks of America and the Indiana director, Merle Gruesser, for hosting the Indiana breakfast on Saturday morning. Indiana attendees enjoyed a panel presentation and legislative update at the breakfast.

The AASA National Education Conference will be held in Phoenix, AZ next February, so mark your calendars now for 2016.

The Indiana legislature is at the half way point of the long session and bills are changing houses this week. This has been a very active education session. The primary education bill in the Senate, SB566, has major components that could impact education by changing the discussion on how we test students and measure school effectiveness, develop teacher contracts and compensation models, and allow for innovative schools hopefully controlled by local boards of education. SB500 referred to as the “dereg bill” was 307 pages long and attempted to denote and delete old and antiquated language in IC Title 20. Since it was so large, several iterations have been amended, but it is still 187 pages long and the amendments have made it a much better bill. Both of these bills passed out of the Senate to the House. HB1009 is the primary education bill remaining for the house. It is the Governor’s Freedom to Teach bill and adds “Transformation Zones” as an option for underperforming schools. It has passed out of the House to the Senate.

The House budget bill HB1001 has passed out of the House and will be presented to the Senate on March 5th. As with all budget bills, they are difficult to craft and make everyone pleased with the outcome. This bill adds dollars to the foundation and adds kindergarten students as fully funded, increases special education dollars and honors , but flat lines career and tech ed and removes the second layer of complexity and lowers the complexity dollars for high poverty school districts. Undoubtedly, the bill will be amended in the Senate and a comprise will come out, but this is first time in several sessions that education has realized increased funding. Unfortunately, as with most budgets, we will see “winners” and “losers” in the budget battle that began in 1972.

However, state charter schools are posed to garner $1500 more per student and Indiana vouchers will increase from 86 million dollars to 116 million dollars. It is always interesting and disheartening to see so much money diverted from public schools serving 98% of the children in Indiana.

Academic achievement and graduation rates continue to improve thanks to the diligent efforts of teachers, principals and Indiana School Superintendents. Indiana public schools are stronger than ever. Remember, leadership matters.

 

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