Charter and ICS Facts
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a tuition-free public school that provides educational programming for any grade or grades, K-12. The majority of charter schools in Indiana are nonprofits. Charters are proposed to and granted by authorizers in Indiana such as the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (which is the ICS authorize), and are renewed on average every five – seven years. A key distinguishing point between charters and traditional public schools is that the charter itself is a performance contract between the school and its authorizer that outlines the school’s mission, programming and goals, assessment methods, student population served, and success measurements. Unlike traditional public schools, if a charter school does not meet the agreed-upon performance measures, its charter can be revoked.
Charters are schools of choice, meaning that parents have the option of applying to enroll in the school and are not assigned to a charter school as a result of their home address, as school districts traditionally operate. Irvington Community School, Inc. operates on a balanced calendar, with 185 day in session (above the state requirement of 180 school days) and extended school days.
Our faculty members have a fair amount of latitude in curriculum design (with curriculum maps being approved by the principals before the start of every school year), which encourages creativity and innovation. However, though we do not “teach to the test,” teachers are expected to cover the Indiana Educational Standards in their lesson planning and instruction, and for their students to perform as well as possible in their standardized testing. Charters are known as education innovators. Such innovations in educational design are made evident in each approved charter. ICS, Inc. has a unique focus on culture classes: most notably Art, Music, and Physical Education. All ICS students K-12 receive instruction in these subject areas several times weekly if not daily. Foreign language is also emphasized at ICS, with Spanish taught to all 6th-8th grade students. Moreover, three years of foreign language is required by IPA for an Academic Honors diploma, which all IPA students are strongly encouraged to obtain. Our charter holds us accountable for both our academic results and fiscal practices to a number of entities, most notably the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (OEI), which is the ICS, Inc. charter authorizer. Our rigorous accountability is also overseen by the ICS, Inc. Board of Governors and the Indiana Department of Education, and the parents who choose us as their preferred provider of their children’s education. Our charter with the Mayor’s Office is for seven years and involves intense scrutiny by our authorizer which includes two-, four-, and six-year reviews. (Reports are available at the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation website at http://oei.indy.gov.)
How is Irvington Community School, Inc. funded?
Charter schools receive per pupil basic tuition support from the state of Indiana’s General Fund but do not receive funding from property taxes, as do traditional public schools. As well, unlike traditional public schools, charter schools do not have the authority to raise revenue through referenda. Charters do not receive facilities funding nor transportation funding, which averages approximately $2,000 per child for facilities funding alone. However, for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years, charters are receiving $500 per child from the state to help defray facilities-related expenses. Because of the rigorous accountability in place and the reduced funding conditions in which we operate, charters are charged with the challenge of doing more with less. As a grassroots public charter school founded by area residents on the East Side of Indianapolis, Irvington Community School, Inc. has been a faithful steward of the trust the public has placed in us. ICS, Inc. is also a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.