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IPS tells teachers at remaining high schools they have to reapply for jobs

September 22, 2017

High school teachers across Indianapolis Public Schools will need to reapply for their jobs as part of a district-wide reconfiguration. 

That includes teachers at high schools that are remaining open as well as those at schools that will close at the end of this year. The plan was announced to teachers Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the IPS board approved a proposal to close three high schools.

The goal is to make sure that teachers are well matched with their schools, said Mindy Schlegel, who heads human resources for the district. Even schools that remain open will dramatically change under the high school reconfiguration plan, she said. They will have new, specialized magnet academies and, potentially, new leaders. 

“We really wanted to give teachers the opportunity to learn more,” she said, “and find the right fit for them.” 

Teachers may not get their first-choice position because school leaders will be able to interview and select teachers. But the district doesn’t expect any teachers to lose their jobs, Schlegel said.

But while Schlegel framed the decision as a move to help teachers find jobs they like, union leader Rhondalyn Cornett was concerned it could push educators to leave the district. 

“This is like a total disruption at one time,” Cornett said. 

Since the announcement, Cornett has received dozens of texts and emails from concerned teachers. Teachers say they feel they have sacrificed because they love the district, and now they are being treated like they are pawns, she said. 

“I mean,” she added, “why wouldn’t they feel like that?” 

Under the high school reconfiguration plan approved Monday, Broad Ripple High School and John Marshall Middle School will close. The Northwest and Arlington high school campuses will be converted to middle schools.

Four high schools will remain open: Crispus Attucks, Shortridge, George Washington and Arsenal Technical. 

Teachers will have a chance to learn more about the programs and leadership at each high school in October or November, Schlegel said. Then, the human resources department will schedule interviews for teachers at their first-choice schools. 

“Closing four buildings is a big shakeup, so I’m not sure that we can avoid so much disruption,” she said. “We are really trying to handhold teachers through this process so they land in the right spot.” 

Some teachers won’t need to go through the transfer process, including those who have received special training to teach International Baccalaureate courses, arts specialists, life skills teachers and career and technical teachers. Schlegel said some of those educators may switch buildings, but they will stay in the same positions. 

Teachers in core content areas, such as English and math, however, will need to go through the application process even if they wish to stay at their current campus.

Chalkbeat Indiana is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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