Members of the Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night overwhelmingly approved spending $560,000 as a startup appropriation to fund Mayor Joe Hogsett’s new education initiative, Indy Achieves—although not without expressing concern regarding the city’s tight budget and other spending priorities.
The initial funding for the program was approved by a 21-3 vote. IBJ has reported the mayor plans to ask the council to appropriate $2 million next year to the city’s Office of Education Innovation to fund the program through a contract with EmployIndy, the city’s workforce development agency. Indy Achieves is aimed at boosting the rate of certificate and college-degree attainment in Marion County.
Hogsett on Tuesday morning announced that former Indy Chamber policy director Matt Impink would lead the effort as its new executive director, and that the staff would have 12 people once fully launched.
Council Vice President Zach Adamson said “the issues that will be addressed in this proposal are definitely good things we should be focusing on,” but he said he was concerned about the “much larger annual budget item” that would be required to pay for the program next year.
Adamson has long advocated for more funding for animal care and control, and he said the city had “other issues that we’re not addressing.”
Minority Leader Mike McQuillen said he had “some concerns shared by Councilor Adamson” about the size of the future appropriation.
Republican Jeff Miller said that following the city's pothole crisis earlier this year and the realization that the city has a multimillion-dollar funding gap to pay for adequate road repair, he was concerned about residents calling and saying the city "can’t fix your sidewalk, but you can fund somebody going to college."
Tim Moriarty, special counsel for the mayor, said "all of those [budget priorities] are open for discussion” when the next budget is presented.
“I understand all counselors have priorities,” Moriarty said.
Impink previously served a director of policy and civic engagement at the Indy Chamber, where he led efforts to expand mass transit. He previously worked as a researcher at the IU Public Policy Institute, as a community organizer at Stand for Children Indiana, and as a consultant for Lumina Foundation.
He started his career by teaching 11th grade U.S. history through the Teach for America program.
“Matt’s experience with education and community development have fully prepared him to take on the role of preparing our children for scholastic and professional success through Indy Achieves," Hogsett said in a media statement.
Impink will receive a salary of $90,000 plus benefits as the effort's executive director, according to city officials.