Candidates for IPS school board would vote no on Rebuilding Stronger

IPS school board candidates Nicole Carey (left), Angelia Moore, Hope Hampton and Kristen Elizabeth Phair during a forum sponsored by WFYI and Chalkbeat Indiana on Oct. 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Editor’s note: This article was co-published by Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI as part of a collaboration ahead of the 2022 school board elections.

All four candidates for the Indianapolis Public Schools board would vote against the district’s current Rebuilding Stronger proposal, they said Wednesday a candidate forum hosted by Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI.

During the forum, candidates in the November election said they haven’t seen enough information about the plan to support it, and also expressed concern about the level of parent input.

Rebuilding Stronger is a proposed district overhaul that includes grade reconfigurations and some schools closing or merging as a way to address declining enrollment and financial challenges.

The school board is expected to vote on the plan in the fall, so those running for school board won’t be the ones to vote on the plan. However, if the plan is adopted, the winning candidates will be the ones to oversee it. None of the current board members with expiring terms are seeking reelection.

The majority of the changes in the plan would take place in the 2024-25 school year.

“We haven’t heard enough information, it’s not that anyone is opposed to plans per se, or people working hard to plan to better educate children. I think the issue is that we don’t know how many parents are at the table,” said Hope Hampton, a candidate for the District 3 seat, which encompasses the midtown area of Indianapolis and is the only contested race.

She added she wants to know if the programs that the district plans to replicate as part of the plan are the programs that parents want.

Kristen Elizabeth Phair, Hampton’s District 3 opponent, agreed that she wanted to know more from families.

“I want to hear what parents are worried about for their special needs kids,” she said. “I want to know what neighborhood (schools) families are worried about.”

Phair  added that with more information, families will either be satisfied or have concerns, and she hopes the district listens to those families with concerns.

Fellow candidates Nicole Carey and Angelia Moore also wanted to know more about the families’ thoughts on replicating programs. Carey and Moore are running unopposed for District 5, which includes the northwest part of the district,  and an at-large seat, respectively.

The roughly hour-long forum covered a wide range of topics, including facilities, district accountability and transparency, and how to support students.

Questions came from moderators Amelia Pak-Harvey and Elizabeth Gabriel, as well as from IPS students and attendees, who were both in person and online.

In a few days, a recording with Spanish subtitles will be on the WFYI YouTube channel. You can also watch the recording on Facebook.

All four candidates are newcomers, and IPS is the only Marion County district where no incumbents are on the ballot.

Read more about the candidates for IPS school board in our voter guide, and hear a recap of the forum on Twitter Spaces. 

To learn more about all the school board elections in Marion County, check out our election previews here.

Voter registration for Marion County residents ends Oct. 11.

Early voting begins on Oct. 12 at the Indianapolis City-County Building, and additional early voting sites open on Oct. 29.

On Nov. 8, Marion County residents can vote at any of the county’s vote centers.

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

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