Close to 100 applicants may have the next big idea to transform IPS

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INDIANAPOLIS — The process is underway to turn over failing Indianapolis Public Schools to the people who pitch the best idea for a new school.

The application window has closed for the first “Innovation School Fellowships.”

The fellowships will be given to those who pitch the best idea for a new IPS school, to take the place of a failing one in 2015.

In all, 86 people applied for the fellowships. They include teachers and principals – many of them already working in IPS – retired Superintendents, college professor, non-profit directors and even an intelligence analyst with the U.S. State Department.

“We’ve seen a whole different array of people applying,” The Mind Trust CEO David Harris said.

The Mind Trust, IPS and the Mayor’s Office will form a committee to ultimately choose the fellows. They hope to parcel down 86 to just two or three by the end of June.

“There’s interest to be innovative and there’s interest in changing what we do,” IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee said.

Also this week, Ferebee pitched an idea to the Indiana State Board of Education for IPS to take back some of its old takeover schools, being run by outside companies.

The idea went over well, with board members planning to vote on it next month.

“We want to be the individuals who are leading the transformation efforts in the district,” Ferebee said.

Applicants for the fellowships have until June 1 to turn in a full proposal. From there they will face a series of interviews that will test both their ideas and their capabilities as leaders.

“I want to push the competitive and innovation edge as much as possible. We want cutting edge ideas and thoughts,” Ferebee said.