The Indianapolis Public School Board on Thursday laid off nearly 45 support positions at schools across the district in a cost-cutting move, including 14 bilingual assistants that help IPS’s growing population of English language learners.
But Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the move does not mean it’s scaling back support for English learners. IPS is in the process of overhauling its services for students who are learning English.
“We’re changing our learning model for English as a second language students,” Ferebee said. “Many of those positions were associated with our previous model. We need to improve our outcomes for our second language students.”
Ferebee said IPS will hire more certified teachers who specialize in teaching English learners with the savings. The district currently has about 70 teachers who specialize in teaching English language learners and 70 bilingual assistants, including those who were laid off tonight.
Other cuts include 12 attendance mentors, as well as piano accompanists, office associates and school support staff.
IPS teachers union president Rhondalyn Cornett said she was upset by the cuts.
“Without those educational support people, we couldn’t do what we do,” Cornett said. “It takes everybody. I hate to see anybody lose their job.”
The move comes as IPS tries to reduce its spending on central services. Ferebee said IPS is on schedule to cut at least $3 million more this year.
“As we did last year, we’re continuing to become a leaner organization and looking at the roles and responsibilities,” Ferebee said. “Where we need to make tweaks, we’re confident we’re doing that.”