Broad Ripple High School could graduate its last class of seniors this spring — more than a century after it began educating students.
The second oldest high school in Indianapolis Public Schools, Broad Ripple is one of three IPS high schools slated to close at the end of the year under a plan released by Superintendent Lewis Ferebee last month. The IPS board is expected to vote on the proposal in September.
There are some strong reasons to keep Broad Ripple open, but there also are practical factors that likely influenced the administration’s recommendation to close the school.
Here are some reasons to keep Broad Ripple open:
- Broad Ripple has deeply loyal alumni, parents and students who have strongly advocated for the school in recent months. (The alumni include IPS board member Kelly Bentley.)
- The school is doing relatively well academically — it received a C grade from the state last year — and the district estimates that the graduation rate for the class of 2017 will be 97.6 percent, one of the highest in the district.
- It’s home to a beloved visual and performing arts magnet program that attracts students from across the district. Under the administration proposal, that program would continue to operate at Shortridge High School.
Here are some reasons Broad Ripple is facing closure:
- The school is expected to be just 25 percent full this fall, with 591 students in a building designed to fit 2,400.
- The cost of operating the Broad Ripple campus is slightly less than the district average at $1,234 per student, but by increasing enrollment at the remaining four schools, the district will almost certainly reduce those costs.
- The four schools the administration recommended keeping are near downtown, which IPS says will make transportation easier and cheaper for the all-magnet model. Broad Ripple is at the far northern edge of the district, and it would be a long commute for many students.
- In fact, because the arts magnet attracts students from across IPS, bus rides average 7.39 miles — the longest of any high school and nearly double the district average.
- Finally, Broad Ripple is located in a thriving area where development is booming, making it one of the most valuable properties the district owns. The district expects it could sell the property for $6 million to $8 million.
Correction (July 18, 2017): This story has been updated to reflect that Broad Ripple High School was not built in 1923, as stated in the IPS high school closing report. That was the year the school, which was founded decades earlier, joined the district.