Indianapolis Public Schools has reversed course on its plan under Rebuilding Stronger to have a charter operator run a dual language program at Harshman Middle School as part of the district’s Rebuilding Stronger revitalization plan, according to a district email to parents on Monday evening.
Instead, IPS would allow Harshman, a traditional public school, to run the program itself. Under the latest version of Rebuilding Stronger, Harshman Middle School would offer two programs: one for high-ability students continuing from the elementary grades at Sidener Academy, and one for students continuing from elementary grades in dual-language program schools such as Potter School 74 and Global Prep Academy.
The about-face comes after parent resistance to an earlier version of the Rebuilding Stronger proposal that called for Global Prep Academy — a “restart” charter school within the district’s innovation network — to run the English-Spanish program at Harshman, which is on the near eastside.
The move would have essentially split the middle school into two distinct programs with separate staff. But Harshman staff and parents from Potter and Sidener questioned the feasibility of running two separate programs in a building meant for one school. They also argued that Harshman was prepared to specialize in a dual language program.
The disagreement over Harshman’s future — now resolved in the Rebuilding Stronger blueprint — is a window into the kinds of concerns that different school communities still have regarding Rebuilding Stronger ahead of the school board’s vote on the proposal scheduled for Nov. 17.
In the email to parents sent Monday night, the district said it would no longer partner with Global Prep to run the dual language program. Instead, IPS would directly run both programs, the district said.
“This means Harshman will operate as a middle school for high-ability students and include a dual language track for students who qualify,” the district said in the email. “Students who qualify for both high-ability and dual language will be able to access both.”
A district spokesperson said IPS will review changes to the plan on Tuesday. An IPS school board agenda review session is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The announcement comes after roughly 300 people signed a petition calling for the district to allow Harshman to run a dual language program itself, without the involvement of Global Prep.
Harshman, Potter, and Arsenal Technical High School had proposed the idea of a K-12 dual-language program to district officials before the pandemic hit, parents and staff said.
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The tweak to the plan would not change the timing of the new programming under Rebuilding Stronger, according to the district’s email to parents. Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, Potter — a K-6 school — would serve grades K-5. Harshman, currently serving grades 7 and 8, would become a 6-8 school. Global Prep would remain a K-8 school.
Last month, the board reviewed an updated version of Rebuilding Stronger, which would close several schools and reconfigure grades in an effort to create a more equitable academic environment and provide a more stable financial foundation for the district.
Rebuilding Stronger map as of Oct. 27, prior to this change
Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.