INDIANAPOLIS — For many Hoosier school districts, the pandemic has taught lessons of its own.
“We know that COVID has been an incredibly challenging time,” said Alex Moseman, Indianapolis Public Schools director of talent acquisition. “One of the things that we heard loud and clear, as we were continuing to try to keep schools open and safe, was just that staff needed more support.”
As part of the district’s latest announcement, $15 million will go toward support efforts for IPS teachers and staff. The money comes from about $213 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Package through the American Rescue Plan.
Moseman said about $14 million will provide school support bonuses for all staff across the district.
According to IPS’s website, bonuses start at $1,500 during the fall 2022 semester, followed by $1,000 in spring of 2023 and another $1,500 in fall of 2023.
Along with the bonuses, IPS is partnering with Talkspace. For the first time, IPS staff and their families will have free, direct access to mental health professionals while using the online and mobile therapy platform.
“In the conversations that we’ve had with teachers in trying to understand what those supports might look like, a support like Talkspace is something that really came out as a solution for folks,” said Moseman.
Starting in fall of 2022, IPS will also roll out a new pilot program aimed at promoting teacher flex time opportunities in select schools. The district hopes for full implementation in fall of 2023.
“The flex time work is something that really is going to put IPS on the cutting edge nationally as we think about how districts, and teachers, stay up with current workforce trends as remote work has become kind of a norm, especially for those bachelors-degreed, knowledge-based workers,” Moseman said, “and so we think that that’s going to be a really big competitive advantage.”
Moseman says the latest efforts are an example of how IPS is using what its learned in the pandemic to continue building a stronger district.
“It just speaks to the fact that we’re being responsive to not just the needs and the signals, but really trying to dig underneath what is causing those challenges and try to make some structural changes that support teachers,” he said.