IPS hired PR firm to help ask for $936M from taxpayers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Public Schools says there's nothing unusual about the district hiring a PR firm to help it develop its request for nearly $1 billion in tax referenda. 

Thursday night, the IPS Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to send capital and operating referenda to Marion County voters during the 2018 primary election in May.

When RTV6 reached out to the IPS spokesperson for more information on the vote and the referenda, we were referred to a representative for Hirons, a public relations and advertising company based in Indianapolis.

According to its website, Hirons has also done work for the following companies:

  • Indiana State Department of Health
  • Riddell National Bank
  • Indiana Office of the Attorney General
  • the Indianapolis Zoo
  • Eskenazi Health

On Friday, the district released its own statement to RTV6 about the $50,000 contract with Hirons:

“Indianapolis Public Schools is committed to transparency in all of our activities. We contracted with Hirons from September - December 2017 to assist with public and community outreach regarding the referenda. Similar to other public organizations that have pursued referenda, IPS would be remiss not to collaborate with local experts on these efforts."

IPS hasn't asked for a referendum in nine years, but it's asking for two this year. 

One is an operating referendum to generate $92 million annually for eight years. The other is a capital referendum of $200 million. Overall, $736 million will go toward operating expenses plus the $200 million for capital, which brings the amount to a total of $936 million. 

In March, IPS announced it was facing a $21.8 million deficit in 2017, and would need to make difficult choices to cover the shortfall. 

Since that time, some of those choices have included closing three high schools and forcing more than 300 teachers to reapply for their positions. IPS said the school closings will generate more than $7 million for the district.

MORE IPS COVERAGE | IPS votes to send $1B-worth of funding referenda to May ballot | Indianapolis Public Schools face $21.8 million budget shortfall in 2017 | IPS votes to close three high schools; will operate with four in 2018 | More than 300 IPS teachers will have to reapply for 2018-19 school year

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