Dear ICS Parents and Guardians:
By now you have probably heard about Irvington Community Schools’ exciting new 1:1 technology program, in which each student in grades 6-12 will be provided a notebook computer to use at school. Our students will greatly benefit from the numerous instructional strategies available to teachers through this technology and from access to educational resources available on the Internet. However, the funding for this program is in jeopardy – and ICS needs your help.
Until now, ICS has faced two barriers in providing 1:1 technology, given the fact that charter schools in Indiana are significantly underfunded. The first barrier is the cost of the computers themselves. The second barrier is that even if we could afford all those computers, we do not have the high bandwidth infrastructure – the fiber optic connections and the internal wiring – to support all of those devices being online simultaneously.
Earlier this year, ICS leaders found a cost-effective way to obtain both the computers and the wireless infrastructure by participating in a program offered by T-Mobile. Under the terms of the program, T-Mobile would provide 680 notebook computers, cellular data service for them, and storage cabinets for the machines. In addition, T-Mobile needed to install high-capacity fiber optic connections to the Internet and increase the bandwidth both within and between our three campuses, so the notebooks would function wirelessly and operate at an acceptable level. At the end of the three-year contract, the improvements and equipment would all belong to ICS.
Essentially, 680 three-year cellular data contracts made it worthwhile to T-Mobile to provide half a million dollars in infrastructure to ICS. In exchange, ICS would pay approximately $1.5 million over three years, with 80% of that funding coming from E-Rate, a federal program under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC approved the funding in March 2014. Yet in July 2014, the FCC issued an E-Rate Modernization Order, which requires that E-Rate funding for telephone services be phased out in favor of broadband services, unless broadband is not the least expensive way to provide Internet access. T-Mobile’s program to provide computers and broadband infrastructure is tied to a cellular contract. So the FCC is now threatening to revoke funding, even though the commission already approved the funding for 2014-2015. Nearly 70 other schools in Indiana are in the same situation.
If the FCC determines in its ongoing audit that this contract is the most inexpensive way for ICS to expand student access to the Internet, then we will get to keep our technology. The problem is that this might not actually be the cheapest way. If charter schools had funding for capital improvements such as technology infrastructure, or even a way to borrow money to cover such expenses, it might be cheaper for ICS to purchase the computers and install the necessary cables without a cellular plan. But given the financial position of charter schools in Indiana, this is not a viable option for ICS. The program offered by T-Mobile may or may not be the cheapest way, but it is the only way at this time for us to expand Internet connectivity for our students. If the FCC refuses to take into consideration the funding challenges of Indiana charter schools and revokes funding for our contract with T-Mobile, then this roadblock will indefinitely delay our schools’ goal of transitioning to 1:1 computing.
Here are three options for you to help us:
1. Write your own letter and mail or email it to the contacts listed here.
2. Send the attached form letter by email or regular mail with your signature, here.
3. Sign the electronic petition here.
We need your voice in reaching the members of the FCC, the ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees the FCC, the White House, and the federal Department of Education before Nov. 10, the date the FCC has said it would complete the audit.
Thank you in advance for supporting our 1:1 technology initiative and speaking out on behalf of ICS and your children’s education.
Halloween Festival Benefits from Perfect Fall Weather
Indian Summer graced the 68th Annual Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, which led to a huge crowd. As usual, it was a feast for the eyes, with dog-loving East-siders out in droves with their four-legged friends. Kids, adults, and animals wandered about in costumes both purchased and handmade from vivid imaginations. This year, Irvington Community Schools booth was situated in the Indianapolis Public Library’s Irvington Branch parking lot. As it turns out, with music, food trucks, and beer tents nearby, and of course, our amazing employees staffing the booth, we enjoyed hundreds of visitors. Friendships were rekindled, questions about our schools were answered, and candy went "missing" by the plastic pumpkin bucket-load. Too bad that Halloween comes but once a year!
Teaching the Value of Service is the Irvington Way
Each school year, Irvington Prep plans two Senior Days of Service in conjunction with the underclassmen’s fall and spring college visits. On September 24, 2014, seniors contributed their services to partners including Habitat for Humanity, Indy Urban Acres, Gleaners Food Bank, and the Ransburg YMCA. As well, some seniors stayed on campus to pitch in with landscaping tasks. Others spent the day at Irvington Community Middle School and Irvington Community Elementary School, tidying up the middle school garden and assisting elementary school teachers with classroom activities. Seventy-six IPA seniors participated.
Last school year, Irvington Preparatory Academy (IPA) introduced its Service Learning Program to the Class of 2014. This is in keeping with the concluding promise made in the Irvington Community Schools’ mission statement: “Prepare all students for successful post-secondary experiences as responsible citizens by being involved in service learning opportunities for the betterment of their local and global communities.”
Even though service learning is not mandated at Irvington Prep, it is catching on. Among IPA’s 2014 graduating class, more than two-thirds of the students achieved the minimum of 10 service hours. This year, seniors will need to attain 20 hours, minimally, to receive this distinction. For the Class of 2017, graduates will need 40 hours to meet the standard, having four years to involve themselves in a variety of community-based volunteer work experiences.
Regarding the latest Senior Day of Service, Paige Pittman, IPA’s Service Learning Program Coordinator, says, “Our seniors reported that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was a pleasure to see them acting so selflessly in their volunteer efforts benefiting the east side community.”
Photo caption: IPA seniors Ruth Martinez (left) and Katie Rigdon cheerfully handle the weeding detail at the Irvington Community Middle School garden.
Select ICS Student Artwork Now on Display
Artwork created by students from all three Irvington Community Schools is now on display – and available for purchase! – at the new 5547 Project Art Gallery. The gallery is located at 5547 Bonna Avenue in Historic Irvington, just a few blocks northwest of Irvington Prep. Although it was a difficult process, the pieces that made the final cut were chosen by the ICS art program faculty. Proceeds from the sale of these works will support Irvington Community Schools and its art program.
The artwork will be on display now throughout November. The hours of 5547’s operation are:
Tuesday – Friday 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday – 11a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday 11a.m. - 6 p.m.
So stop by 5547 to take in some young artists’ remarkable creations as well as other local professional artists’ work. There’s a coffee bar, too, to enhance your gallery-going experience! For more information about the artwork, please contact Jessica Journey, ICS Director of Advancement, at 357-3770 x144.
Photo Caption: Artwork produced by young artists from Irvington Community Schools is on display – and for sale! – now throughout November at the 5547 Project Art Gallery.
Central Library Art Exhibit Leads to Powerful Conversations
On Thursday, September 18, 2014, Mr. Ballard took his Save Our Students class – all young men in the making – to the Indianapolis Central Library for an unusual field trip. There, the 14 IPA students experienced a guided tour of artist James Pate’s “Kin Killin’ Kin” exhibit. According to the library website, Pate is considered to be “one of the most important African-American artists in the United States.”
Pate’s work on display at the library addresses youth violence in African-American communities while serving as a tribute to this year’s homicide victims in Indianapolis. Further, it represents a call to action for all of Indy’s residents to find a solution to this wave of violence and the terrible toll it leaves in its wake.
IPA students had an opportunity for deep-level dialogue with the tour guides – who themselves had lost family members to gun violence – about what’s going on in the students’ own lives, what experience they’ve had with violence, what their exposure to gangs has been, and how they can make a difference. Following the discussion, students wrote poems, stream-of-consciousness free writings, and lyrics to be shared in podcasts and videos at the library.
“The guys found the artwork extremely interesting and related it to their own experience in how violence has affected them and their neighborhoods,” Mr. Ballard said. One aspect of the exhibit featured toe tags used by coroners to identify murder victims. Visitors are allowed to write on the tags if they knew someone who had been killed. The name of a young man who was murdered last spring appeared on a tag, and several students immediately recognized the name. “That really hit home,” Mr. Ballard added.
At one point, the guides asked that Mr. Ballard leave the room for them to engage in a private discussion with the students about gang involvement. The students insisted that their behavior coach and mentor stay with them for the conversation. Said one, “Anything we say, we’re comfortable saying it in front of Mr. Ballard.” Mr. Ballard notes that the tour guides found that “remarkable.” We do, too.
The “Kin Killin’ Kin” exhibit concludes its run at the Central Library on September 28, 2014. For more information, go to www.imcpl.org/events/kinexhibit/.