Newly approved adult charter high school hopes to open in closing IPS building

An Excel Center graduate celebrates after crossing the stage at a ceremony Thursday night.
An Excel Center graduate celebrates after crossing the stage at a ceremony. Goodwill Education Initiatives will open a seventh center in Indianapolis in the fall of 2023. (Erica Irish/Chalkbeat)

This story has been updated.

A seventh Excel Center adult charter high school has the green light to open in Indianapolis, and it’s hoping to open in a school that Indianapolis Public Schools will close at the end of this school year.  

The Indianapolis Charter School Board on Tuesday approved the Excel Center - Twin Aire. The center, operated by the not-for-profit Goodwill Education Initiatives — which was created by Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana — hopes to open in the building currently occupied by Paul Miller School 114. 

IPS will vote on whether to lease the site to the group around May, said Lakia Osborne, a regional director for Goodwill Education Initiatives, at the board meeting. The school plans to open with an initial 100 students in the fall of 2023, growing to 300 by its second year.  

IPS said in a statement that it has discussed the possibility of the Excel Center and other organizations using School 114, but said no final decisions have been made and that it would be inappropriate and premature to discuss specifics.

“We are also considering the needs of the district and possible internal uses for any building at which instruction has ceased or will cease at the end of this school year,” the district said.

Last year, another charter school, Victory College Prep, announced its intent to acquire the School 114 building. State law allows charter schools to acquire or lease empty school buildings for $1, but lawmakers are considering sunsetting the statute

The centers primarily help students ages 18 or older to graduate from high school. The centers are geared toward those who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind their graduating peers. 

The group’s goal in opening near Twin Aire is to provide educational opportunities for those who are exiting the criminal justice system, said Anne Davis, vice president of education initiatives at the Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana. The Twin Aire neighborhood is home to the city’s new Community Justice Campus that houses the court system and the jail.

“We know that there is a need in communities for individuals who are reentering society to make sure that they understand that they have opportunities for a diploma if they need it,” Davis said.

The city’s charter school board authorizes the six existing centers in Indianapolis. Statewide, Goodwill Education Initiatives runs 15 Excel Centers. It also operates the charter Indianapolis Metropolitan High School. 

Goodwill Education Initiatives is seeking an increase in the current legislative session for the number of seats that Indiana will fund statewide for its adult Excel Centers, which state statute currently limits to 4,900. The group is asking for an additional 1,650 seats, Davis said. The session ends this week.

If the centers are not given an increase in seats, Davis said, the group would need to reevaluate to make sure it can still open Excel Center - Twin Aire.  

The Twin Aire campus will have an educational model similar to current centers, focusing on three main pillars: a structure that meets the needs and goals of the students, a focus on college and career readiness, and coaching, the school said in its application

The model focuses on instruction with licensed instructors mixed with online credit recovery, emphasizing dual-credit courses and relationships with local employers. One-on-one coaching, flexible scheduling, and child care for students also seek to keep adult learners enrolled in school, according to the application. 

This story has been updated to include a statement from Indianapolis Public Schools.

Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at apak-harvey@chalkbeat.org.

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