Have a Voice, Take Part in Education Discussion

May 12, 2012

Below is a letter to the editor by John and Councillor Jeff Miller on the education reform discussion taking place in Indianapolis. It was published in the Indy Star on May 12, 2012.

If we want Indianapolis to attract and keep families, strengthen its neighborhoods and draw new employers, raising the bar for our schools must be our highest priority. The success of Indianapolis Public Schools and its students is everybody’s business: the City-County Council, the Chamber of Commerce, teachers, parents, and, most of all, students. It is clear that every single resident of Marion County has a stake in the success of IPS.

The good news is this: The community understands the critical importance of the K-12 education discussion and is taking notice of the ideas being proposed.

The council recently approved a new deputy mayor of education position and confirmed Jason Kloth for the job. The Mind Trust sparked a community conversation about improving IPS with the release of its December report, “Creating Opportunity Schools.” And IPS responded last month with its own report.

Both plans warrant discussion, and other ideas from all perspectives should also be welcomed to the table.

It’s time to really engage in a community conversation focused on what ideas will and won’t work for our city and our students. Under the leadership of President Maggie Lewis, the council is doing its part. Earlier this year the Community Affairs Committee heard the details of The Mind Trust’s plan. On May 17, we will hear the details on IPS Superintendent Eugene White’s plan in a public meeting.

Maybe you have an idea for how to improve IPS. Now is the time to speak up — and to listen. We encourage you to join us at 6 p.m. May 17 at 120 E. Walnut St. to add your voice to the discussion.

We need all voices at the table. If we don’t find solutions for IPS, our city — and all of our futures — are at risk.

John Barth

Jeff Miller

City-County Council members

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Proposal 172: Enhanced Public Input for Changes at Eagle Creek Park

May 10, 2012

9/3/12 Update: Proposal 172 has been withdrawn. I moved to withdraw 172, after months of working with Indy Parks to develop and implement a new internal policy that meets my prime goal – to ensure that any material policy changes at Eagle Creek Park will receive a public meeting prior to a decision being made. The new policy, in place as of 8/23/12, is available for review here: Indy Parks – Final ECP policy statement

Original Post (5/10/12):

Eagle Creek Park (ECP) is one of our city’s great assets.  Not only is ECP the largest park in Indianapolis, it is among the largest municipal parks in the United States. The park is used for a large range of activities – from boating to hiking to swimming – and has been cherished by generations of Indianapolis residents.

Recently, Indy Parks began expanding on these traditional park activities. The city signed a 15-year contract with a company (Go Ape) to install and operate a zip line course (Go Ape will charge customers, and the city will receive only a maximum of 6% of revenue per year as payment). Now city officials are considering adding mountain biking on ECP trails.

Given the importance of ECP to our city, I believe that prior to any more expansion beyond the traditional uses of the park, a robust public engagement process should take place. That is why I have authored Proposal 172 (to be introduced to the Council on 5/14/12). The aim of the proposal is simply to seek public input on any expansion of the “traditional or historic” use of the park. Indy Parks will be required to hold a public meeting to review any proposed new use and to allow public testimony. This information will then be reported to the Parks Board to help guide decision making. It is my hope that this simple proposal to encourage more public engagement will spark an on-going discussion about the role of ECP and its value to the residents of the City of Indianapolis.


Smoke-Free Ordinance Implementation Begins

May 7, 2012

The Marion County Health Department and  Smoke Free Indy have begun the outreach and education process to ensure a smooth transition to the enhanced smoke-free policy that goes into effect on June 1st. Watch out for a multimedia education blitz across the city over the next few weeks.  For a detailed review of the ordinance and its requirements, please visit smokefreeindy.com – and a nice summary of the ordinance can be found here: OrdinanceSummary