INDIANAPOLIS - The three candidates up for the role of Superintendent of the Indianapolis Public School district were put to the test with public interviews Thursday evening.
It was the first time that parents, teachers and administrators had the opportunity to meet the three finalists.
One of the three men will help lead IPS into the future as they face shrinking enrollment and major budget cuts.
All three finalists said they knew what they were getting into and they were ready to do whatever it takes to turn IPS around.
Thomas Darden, a product of IPS schools, said no one wanted the job more than he did.
Darden is the only non-educator of the three, but he said his business background has prepared him to take on the budget crisis facing IPS.
“First you have to identify those things that aren’t giving you the strategic value that you really want, and you have to stop doing those things,” Darden said.
All three men said everything was on the table, including identifying inefficiencies and closing schools if necessary.
Lewis Ferebee, the youngest candidate, said the school system he comes from in Durham, N.C. is very similar to IPS.
He made $70 million in cuts there and successfully turned around the under-performing schools.
“The transformation I just described does not occur without bold moves. I’m not afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool. This was required to improve student achievement and must be done," Ferebee said.
Millard House has been a teacher and was even principal of the year in Oklahoma for turning around the lowest-performing school in the state. He said he was eager to build better relationships at IPS.
“I’m not one of those individuals that looks for the posh, cush-cush opportunities. I want to make a difference. And I think there’s an opportunity in IPS to make a major difference,” House said.
One IPS educator said she believed that one of the three candidates had the potential to lead the school system in a new direction.
The school board could make its decision Saturday, but will not announce it until the background checks and contract details are worked out.