Township school board races

Wayne Township school board candidates call for more funding

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
Wayne Township's McClelland Elementary School. The district today passed a referendum with bout two-thirds of the vote.

This is one of 10 school board races in Marion County. Check back with Chalkbeat Indiana throughout the week for more information on the other candidates.

 

District snapshot

Wayne Township’s school year started on a high note with the release of 2014 ISTEP scores. The district saw the biggest gain in Marion County with a 5.8 percentage point increase to 64.4 percent of students passing. Superintendent Jeff Butts said test scores were helped by candid teacher convesations about what types of instruction were and were not working, and administrators stepped up observations and feedback to teachers. Wayne Township also redesigned its curriculum and put a greater focus on using student test score data as a guide to what needs to be taught differently. This test score upswing comes as the district has also seen growth in the number of poor families it serves.

Candidates in this race recently discussed the issues on Amos Brown’s radio show.

Key school district data

  • Enrollment: 15,925 students
  • Ethnicity: 39.4 percent white, 30.5 percent black, 22.9 percent Hispanic
  • Eligible for free and reduced-price lunch: 77.4 percent
  • ISTEP math and English passing rate 2014: 64.4 percent
  • 2012-13 graduation rate (most recent available): 87.2 percent

Candidates

  • Scott Edward Cline, 58, retired teacher who taught for 35 years in Wayne Township, running for re-election as an at-large candidate.
  • Mike Nance, 60, manager and owner of the UPS Store in Speedway, running for re-election as an at-large candidate.
  • Floyd Keith, 66, CEO of Planned Positive Attitude Professional Services, running as at at-large candidate.
  • Rochelle Olaleye, Senior Quality Engineer at Salesforce MarketingCloud, running for election as an at-large candidate.
  • Michael Morrow, 56, director of product costing/market analysis for Aero Industries Inc, running for re-election as an at-large candidate.

The following candidates could not be reached or did not respond to survey questions.

  • Stanley Ellis, running for re-election as an at-large candidate.
  • Brandon Bowman, running for election as an at-large candidate.

Why did you choose to run for the school board?

Cline: After teaching in Wayne Township for 35 years, I applied for the position 18 months ago when school board member Paul Calabro decided to retire early. I had known Mr. Calabro and his family since childhood and wanted to continue the excellent legacy that he has left behind.

Nance: I enjoy being involved in the community, especially the school system. I believe that I have a responsibility to give back to my community and try to help make Wayne Township a better place to live. A sound educational system is important for community growth.

Keith: I am running for the school board for the following reasons: My no. 1 concern and platform is “Keith for kids.” I believe EVERY kid deserves the opportunity to have a quality educational experience. It is my desire to be a voice for all we (the school board of Wayne Township) serve. Our school board must be relevant. We (Dr. Nicole Keith and myself as parents) have three children who are current students and one graduate of the school system. I am current and in real time with the issues facing our students. Our school board needs an experienced leader who is representative of Wayne Township families.

Olaleye: Education is key. I would like to do my part to help my district to continue to develop a world class education system.

Morrow: To help our students (young or old) to become productive citizens while making a positive impact on our community, and to help in that effort any way I can.

What issues will you focus on?

Cline: If elected, I will push for a more transparent means in seeing how our schools are being administered. Questions of how dollars are spent and why there seems to be inequities within buildings are my top concerns. Our teachers work hard, but one teacher in one building, being paid the same amount of money, should not be made to work additional hours or produce excessive, unneeded data. The letter grades of our schools have greatly improved, and we must continue to strive in maintaining those scores.

Nance: Strategic plan implementation, advancement of career and technical education.

Keith: Funding: Maintaining the essential services provided to our students and making the right decisions on the priorities. Maintaining our facilities. Being a champion for public education. Curriculum and assessment of the student: No. 1 is the academic success of the student. The ultimate objective of the system should be to enhance the educational experience of the student once they have arrived in the system.

Olaleye: Technology, building a stronger community.

Morrow: For the next few years, and beyond. The M.S.D. of Wayne Township School Board will have to be focused on items which will create the highest impact of financial cost reductions, while having the least amount of impact on our children’s education.

What is the most important issue facing your district?

Cline: Like most systems, providing and receiving future revenues is probably the greatest concern. Those legislators in the statehouse and federal government need to step in to today’s classroom for a week at a time. They need to truly understand how much teachers bring to the table with their own funds and what goes unfunded! I am a teacher advocate, yet at the same time an advocate for change! I am a firm believer that veteran teachers know what they are doing. Let them do what they do best and let them mentor newer teachers who are just beginning. 

Nance: Lack of funding by the state of Indiana.

Keith: Funding, funding and funding. Addressing the influences of economy and mobility. Combating the current “drought” of public education in the legislative process. Student academic success. Facilities: what to fix and what not to fix. Representation of the demographic population of Wayne Township.

Olaleye: Increasing overall success.

Morrow: Without a doubt it is the yearly loss of tax revenue. We have seen a significant decrease each of the past four years.

Anything else about yourself you’d like to share.

Cline: The new slogan, “Once A Giant, Always A Giant,” rings true for me! I am a product of Wayne Township Schools from grade 1 to grade 12, a 1974 graduate from Ben Davis High School. We also use the term, We Are Wayne! I can say that I Am Wayne. My family has been involved in Wayne Township schools for over 70 years. It is my dream to keep this school system alive and running well. We, as a community and township, can only make this area a better place to live and grow up in! Purple and White…..Keep The Spirit Alive!

Nance: I am proud of Wayne Township schools and very proud and honored to serve the residents of Wayne Township.

Keith: Floyd Keith has 44 years of professional expertise. Presently, he consults for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports of the University of Central Florida College of Business Administration, Indiana University-Purdue University and is CEO of PPA (Planned Positive Attitude) Professional Services. Previously, he served as the executive director for the Black Coaches and Administrators from 2001- 2013. Floyd graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1970 with a degree in education. With wife, Dr. Nicole R. Keith, an associate professor at IUPUI and current vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine, they have four children, all of whom attend or attended Wayne Township schools.

Olaleye: We are Wayne.

Morrow: I am a graduate of Ben Davis High School (Class of 1976), and in 1980 I graduated from Indiana State University with a BS degree in Industrial Technology Education. I have serve at many levels of management in industry for the past 30 years. In 2004 I founded the Ben Davis Dads’ Organization within Ben Davis High School and Wayne Township. The BD Dads’ Organization helps mentor students at both seventh grade and eighth grade centers, the freshman Center, Ben Davis University, and Ben Davis High School.

Answers have been edited for length.

Ruling

Judge orders Nashville schools to turn over student information to state charters

A Nashville judge has sided with Tennessee’s Achievement School District in the tussle over whether local school districts must share student contact information with charter networks under a new state law.

Chancellor Bill Young this week ordered Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to turn over information requested by LEAD Public Schools, which operates two state-run schools in the city. The district has until March 16 to comply or appeal.

The ruling is a blow to local district leaders in both Nashville and Memphis, who have argued that a federal privacy law gives them discretion over who gets that information. They also contend that the intent of Tennessee’s new charter law, which passed last year, was that such information should not be used for marketing purposes.

The State Department of Education has backed information requests by LEAD in Nashville and Green Dot Public Schools in Memphis, both of which operate charter schools under the state-run turnaround district known as the ASD. State officials say the information is needed to increase parental awareness about their school options and also to help the state’s school turnaround district with planning.

Nashville’s school board has not yet decided whether to appeal Young’s ruling, according to Lora Fox, the city’s attorney.

Shelby County Schools was not included in the state’s lawsuit leading to this week’s ruling, but the case has implications for Memphis schools as well. Last summer, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen ordered both districts to turn over the information. Both have been defiant.

Lawyers representing all sides told Chalkbeat this week that Young set the March 16 deadline to allow time for the legislature to address ambiguity over the state law and for Nashville schools to notify parents of their right to opt out.

Rep. Bill Forgety already has filed a bill in an attempt to do clear the air. The Athens Republican chaired the key House committee that advanced the new charter law and has said that recruitment was not the intent of the provision over student contact information. His bill would restrict charter school requests to a two-month window from January 1 to March 1, confine school communication with non-students from February 1 to April 1, and open up a two-way street for districts to request the same information from charter schools.

The disagreement began with longstanding requests from state-run charter organizations for addresses, phone numbers and emails of students and their parents who live in neighborhoods zoned to low-performing schools. When local districts did not comply last summer, the charters cited the new state law requiring them to hand over student information to the charter schools within 30 days of receiving the request.

To learn what information is at stake and how it’s used, read our in-depth explainer on student data sharing and FERPA.

Who Is In Charge

Inner circle: Here is the team helping Ferebee chart a new course for Indianapolis schools

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Lewis Ferebee

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee has been leading Indianapolis’ largest school district for nearly five years. But in recent months, his circle of advisers has seen some notable changes.

Two leaders who played essential roles in crafting the district plan to close nearly half its high schools and create specialized academies at the remaining campuses have left for other jobs. And a new chief of staff has joined the district as Ferebee’s deputy.

As 2018 begins, the district is at a watershed moment that includes redesigning high schools and appealing to voters for $936 million more in school funding over the next eight years. Here are the eight lieutenants who report directly to Ferebee.

Ahmed Young, chief of staff

PHOTO: Provided by Indianapolis Public Schools
Ahmed Young
  • Salary: $150,000
  • Hired: 2017
  • Duties: General counsel, managing a portfolio of issues related to risk management, IPS Police, student assignment, human resources, and research, accountability and evaluation.
  • His story: Young is the newest member of Ferebee’s team. Before joining in October, he oversaw charter schools for the administration of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. Young has a background in education and in law. He taught middle school in Lawrence Township and New York City schools, then practiced law as a prosecutor for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and at Bose McKinney & Evans. Young has a secondary education degree and a law degree from Indiana University.

Le Boler, chief strategist

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Le Boler
  • Salary: $136,000
  • Hired: 2013
  • Duties: Leads strategic planning, public relations, and parent involvement. She is responsible for fundraising and collaboration with outside organizations.
  • Bio: Boler is one of Ferebee’s closest advisors. She worked with Ferebee in Durham Public Schools, where she was a program strategist, and joined him in Indianapolis at the start of his administration. She also worked with him at Guilford County Schools. She started her career in education through administration support roles for districts in North Carolina. Boler earned a B.A. in business leadership from Ashford University, a mostly online college based in San Diego, and she is pursuing a certificate in strategy and performance management from Georgetown University.

Weston Young, chief financial manager

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Weston Young
  • Salary: $140,000
  • Hired: 2015
  • Duties: Oversees budgeting and management of finances. Participates in procurement, accounting, financial reporting, audits, investments, debt service, and economic development issues.
  • His story: Young came to Indianapolis from the private sector, where he was a wealth manager in Zionsville. Previously he worked as a manager, tax consultant, and accountant. He is a CPA with a degree in accounting and business from Taylor University.

Aleesia Johnson, innovation officer

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Aleesia Johnson
  • Salary: $125,000
  • Hired: 2015
  • Duties: Oversees innovation schools, including supporting schools, and developing processes for recruiting and selecting school leadership, evaluating existing schools and ending contracts with underperforming schools.
  • Her story: When Johnson joined the superintendent’s team, it was a clear sign of the district’s growing collaboration with charter schools. Before joining IPS, she led KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory, the local campus of one of the largest national charter networks. She previously worked for Teach for America and as a middle school teacher. Johnson has a BA from Agnes Scott College, a master’s degree in social work from University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in teaching from Oakland City University.

Scott Martin, deputy superintendent of operations

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Scott Martin
  • Salary: $150,000
  • Hired: 2014
  • Duties: Oversees all non-academic operations, including facilities, construction management, maintenance, transportation, technology, and child nutrition.
  • His story: Martin came to Indianapolis from Davenport, Iowa, where he oversaw support services for a district of about 16,000 students. He also previously spent nearly a decade with the district in Columbus, Indiana. He has a degree in organizational leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Tammy Bowman, curriculum officer

  • Salary: $125,000
  • Hired: 2014
  • Duties: Oversees curriculum, professional development, gifted, and prekindergarten programs.
  • Bio: Bowman came to Indianapolis from North Carolina, where she oversaw a high school academy for five years. She was director of the early college program, AVID coordinator, Title I coordinator, and a beginning teacher coordinator. She previously taught elementary and middle school. She has education degrees from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a counseling degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, and a certificate in administration from Western Carolina University.

Joe Gramelspacher, special project director

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Joe Gramelspacher
  • Salary: $100,000
  • Hired: 2014
  • Duties: Manages the administrative affairs of the Superintendent’s Office, coordinates the monthly work of the Board of School Commissioners, and leads and serves on special project teams.
  • His story: Gramelspacher previously served as special assistant to the superintendent. He began his career in education as a math teacher with Teach for America in Colorado and then in Indianapolis. He has degrees in finance and economics from Indiana University and is a 2017 Broad Resident.

Zach Mulholland, board administrator

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Zach Mulholland
  • Salary: $100,000
  • Hired: 2015
  • Duties: Manages operations for the Indianapolis Public Schools Board, including developing board policy, developing agendas and schedules, and assisting the board president.
  • His story: Before joining the district, Mulholland was a research analyst for the Indiana University Public Policy Institute Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. He has degrees in political science and economics from Wabash College and a law degree from Indiana University.