IPS plans to close Broad Ripple High School, convert Arlington and Northwest to middle schools

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Public Schools announced their plan Wednesday that will take the district down to four high schools and add two middle schools in the fall of 2018. 

The district wants to keep Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, Shortridge and Washington high schools open. 

The superintendent's proposal to the IPS School Board suggests converting Arlington and Northwest into middle schools that will house 7th and 8th-grade students.

The proposal also calls for closing and selling Broad Ripple High School. The district believes the property could generate 6 to 8 million dollars due to its location in a vibrant business corridor.

None of the changes would go into effect until the 2018 school year. 

The proposals come after a taskforce hired by the Board of Commissioners found that most of the high schools in Indianapolis are well below capacity and in many cases, they were less than one-third capacity. 

If the plan is approved, it is expected to save the district $7 million annually. 

The taskforce initial recommendations suggested that the district close all but two high schools, but IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee says that keeping four high schools open will allow the district to offer enhanced academic programs and to ensure that students are not on a school bus more than an hour. 

Dr. Ferebee met with RTV6 and other media outlets on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to explain their plan saying the district can no longer support the "status quo" and he believes the school board is aware of the urgency to take action.

On Tuesday, several protestors gathered at the IPS Education Center to raise questions about the process the Board of Commissioners used when selecting which schools to close.

The IPS administration held multiple meetings throughout the city in packed forums to get community input and hear concerns. The outpouring of interest at those meetings was so overwhelming that the district had to find larger meeting rooms and add extra meetings to accommodate the large response.

Through those meetings, the community and an active and vocal Arlington alumni group were able to convince the district to convert Arlington and Northwest high schools into middle schools because of the need for more middle school space.  

The district is also keeping an eye on Howe and Manuel high schools, which are currently under state control. If the operator overseeing those schools returns the buildings to IPS, the school district plans to shut them down.

The IPS School Board will officially address the recommendations on Thursday.

The district plans to hold community meetings in the impacted neighborhoods in July and August.

Dates for those meetings are below.

  • Broad Ripple Magnet High School: Tuesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.
  • John Marshall Community High School: Thursday, July 20 at 6 p.m.
  • Arlington Community High School: Tuesday, August 29 at 6 p.m.
  • Northwest Community High School: Thursday, August 31 at 6 p.m. 

The Board of Commissioners is expected to make official announcements on the proposal in September. No official changes will occur until the Fall of 2018.

The Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) released the following statement Wednesday after the district's announcement. 

"While the Broad Ripple Village Association understands the IPS recommendation to close Broad Ripple Magnet High School, we believe that as the district and its board evaluate options for re-use, it is essential that the facility continues to be used for public educational purposes. 

It is imperative that the BRVA organization, and thereby the community, be able to shape the facility's re-use, which we strongly believe should remain scholastic and community-service-minded.

For over 130 years, in addition to providing public education, the school has opened its doors to the community and invited us in for special events, performances, sporting events and community gatherings.

The BRVA endeavors to partner with IPS to find a future use for the school facility. The school building is an essential part of Broad Ripple's infrastructure and must continue to serve as a hub for learning and community growth. The BRVA plans to attend the School Board meeting on June 29 and request to participate in the future planning of the facility."

RELATED | Protestors upset about IPS high school closures | IPS plans career academies for high schools set to remain open | IPS parents displeased over possible high school closures | Three IPS high schools could close for fall 2018 school year due to low enrollment

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