IPS board votes to approve new Center for Inquiry school, move for arts magnet

A fourth Center for Inquiry school will open in the School 70 building, and the arts elementary school currently there will move to the Key Learning Community School next fall.

After a series of public meetings, at which parents aired frustrations that the district developed a plan to reconfigure three schools without seeking community input or adhering to a 30-day waiting period to allow for comment, the Indianapolis Public School Board voted tonight to go through with the proposal.

The visual and performing arts magnet program in School 70 will relocate from its north side campus to the Key School building, located just west of downtown. The board voted to close Key Oct. 29.

The School 70 building will house the new Center for Inquiry magnet school. Another CFI school is needed to clear a waiting list of more than 300 students, according to Superintendent Lewis Ferebee.

“If you look at the performance and interest of our CFI programs … there’s extensive wait lists and there has been for a number of years,“ Ferebee said. “On the other side of the coin, we also wanted to advance visual and performing arts.”

Ferebee said the move should help the arts program grow.

“We feel like a centralized location around the arts and culture of the city is the best location to have that launched,” he said.

The arts magnet school will expand to serve middle school students allowing Broad Ripple High School, also an arts magnet, to phase out grades 6-8.

At prior board and community meetings, School 70 parents raised concerns about the plan to add grades to the arts magnet, the move downtown and the lack of public input ahead of the proposal.

But speakers at tonight’s meeting were largely supportive of the planned changes.

“I was overjoyed to learn that the school would be extending grades six though eight,” said Victoria Davis, whose son attends School 70. “For some children, this school is the only place they can display their creativity.”

Davis said she is glad that she will not need to search for a new school for her son until ninth grade.

Parent Eugenia Murry, who is in the midst of a middle school search for her children, said she is glad to see another CFI school. But she urged the district not to devote all its focus to magnet schools.

“Remember to also focus on struggling neighborhood schools,” she said. “Even if CFI is extended, not every child will be able to go there. We need to take more steps to improve the schools down the street from where we live.”