Ferebee gets a raise, contract extension despite complaints

The Indianapolis Public Schools board approved a large raise and contract extension for Superintendent Lewis Ferebee Thursday, despite impassioned pleas from educators and parents to spend the money on teachers and school supplies instead.

Ferebee’s total potential compensation will increase to $287,000, about $64,000 more than he is currently eligible to receive.

The pay hike inspired intense criticism from parents, teachers and others who turned out to recent board meetings to oppose Ferebee’s raise.

“In an age in which there’s a teacher shortage, IPS is bleeding teachers,” said Andrew Polley, a teacher at Arsenal Technical High School.

Ferebee will get a 6 percent bump in pay, an increase in the maximum bonus he can earn and contributions of more than $30,000 per year in retirement funds. The modified contract would also extend Ferebee’s term with the district by two years to June 30, 2019.

The new contract also provides a possible pool of $35,000 in bonus pay that can be distributed among the staff that report directly to Ferebee.

Pam Griffin, a 20-year veteran of IPS who spoke to the board Tuesday, was one of several teachers who compared the superintendent’s pay increase to the raise that district teachers earned at the start of the school year.

She said that the raise she received last fall amounted to 52 cents per hour.

“Why are we not taking better care of our teachers?” Griffin said.

Board members expressed support for raising teacher pay, but most also voted in favor of the raise and contract extension for Ferebee. Board member Gayle Cosby was the lone no vote against the contract modification.

Several board members who support the raise cited the importance of consistent leadership and the dramatic changes that Ferebee has implemented.

“He’s doing a good job,” said board member Kelly Bentley. “He’s doing what we’ve asked him to do.”

Board President Mary Ann Sullivan said that the contract extension and pay increase recognizes the challenges the district faces and the importance of strong, consistent leadership.

“Under Dr. Ferebee’s leadership, we are beginning to get some of our chronically struggling schools back on track,” Sullivan said at the Tuesday board meeting. “It offers compensation that is in line with past practice and other local agreements.”