Herron Prep Academy starts new year at former Indianapolis Children’s Museum site

Students sit on the floor and around tables in chairs in a classroom, doing individual work.
Kindergarteners in class at Herron Prep Academy in Indianapolis. The charter school celebrated its new building in September 2023. (Amelia Pak-Harvey / Chalkbeat)

Herron Prep Academy celebrated the start of its new school year in a new building on Wednesday, the latest sign of growth for the Herron Classical Schools charter network, which has three Indianapolis schools. 

The new site at 3100 N. Meridian St., which the school purchased from the Children’s Museum in 2022 for an undisclosed price, houses K-5 students who occupied the building for the first time in August. Herron Prep plans to eventually grow to serve K-8 students at the site, and is embarking on a second phase of construction at the location to create classrooms for fifth to eighth grades and a gymnasium. 

All three schools are part of the Indianapolis Public Schools network of autonomous schools, known as the Innovation Network. The expansion will allow students in lower grades to enroll in Herron’s classical education offerings.

The school is the newest addition to the Herron Classical Schools charter network, which began in 2006 with Herron High School. The network created Herron-Riverside High School in 2017 at the old Heslar Naval Armory site, and Herron Prep opened with grades K-2 in 2021.

Herron Prep students look on as officials cut the ribbon for the new building at the start of the 2023-24 school year. (Amelia Pak-Harvey / Chalkbeat)

Enrollment at Herron Prep school nearly doubled from last school year to this year, according to school officials, with 315 students currently in the new building. 

As the charter network grew, officials saw gaps that needed to be addressed. 

“Ninth grade students were coming consistently to us struggling to do fractions and reading well below grade level,” Herron Classical Schools President Janet McNeal said at the ribbon-cutting. “We knew our solution was creating and building our own kindergarten through eighth grade school.”

Students previously occupied the lower level of the Herron-Riverside High School and space at Herron High School before moving into their own building this year. 

The new campus, which used to be a Salvation Army facility, is just under 3 miles away from the network’s two charter high schools. 

Herron Prep plans to grow to K-6 next year, with the second phase of construction expected to be completed around next July. 

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

Corrections and clarifications: This story has been updated to reflect an accurate description of the formation of Herron-Riverside High School.

The Latest

The ‘Youth Civic Hub,’ an online portal launched on Friday aims to increase youth civic engagement and electoral participation.

The board on Tuesday signaled to lawmakers that they want new laws to reform the state’s charter school system.

El distrito y la high school enfrentan una nueva audiencia con la Junta de Educación Estatal en mayo.

Un grupo influyente conservador ha elaborado una estrategia para desafiar una decisión histórica del Tribunal Supremo que protege el derecho de los niños indocumentados a asistir a la escuela pública.

With federal pandemic aid for schools expiring, the schools say the additional operating funding would be crucial for students and staff.

“I work in school nutrition to feed kids, not trash cans,” a dietitian testified at a legislative hearing last week.