Third Purdue Polytechnic school in Indianapolis delays opening

A staff member stands in the doorway next to a long line of high school students.
Purdue Polytechnic High School students line up in the Broad Ripple High School building on the first day of school at the charter network's north campus in 2022. The network has two campuses in Indianapolis and plans to open a third. (Amelia Pak-Harvey / Chalkbeat)

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The opening of a third Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis is being delayed again — now until 2025.

It is one of three schools that Education One, the charter school authorizing arm of Trine University in Angola, approved to open in Indianapolis in the next few years.

Purdue Polytechnic High School West will open somewhere on the west side of Indianapolis within Indianapolis Public Schools borders, but the exact location remains unclear, according to its application with Education One. It initially planned to open in fall of 2023, and then delayed its start until the fall of 2024 while searching for a facility.

The school still does not yet have a site in hand, so the start date will again be pushed back to fall of 2025, Lindsay Omlor, the executive director of Education One, said at Education One’s board meeting on Thursday.

Purdue Polytechnic said in a statement that it does not have any expansion updates at this time.

“We remain committed to expanding high-quality seats, especially for our underrepresented populations,” the network said.

Purdue Polytechnic sought approval from Education One after the Indianapolis Charter School Board rejected its pitch to open in Pike Township amid strong public pushback. The Purdue charter network already has two high school campuses in Indianapolis — both of which are part of the Indianapolis Public Schools network of autonomous Innovation schools — and a third location in South Bend.

Education One has also approved the Purdue Polytechnic High School network for four other charters, although exact locations of those high schools and timelines for opening have yet to be determined. The network still must go through a process to activate each approved charter, according to Omlor.

The Purdue Polytechnic network emphasizes STEM education, particularly for students of color, and seeks to boost the pipeline of underrepresented students attending Purdue University. The Indianapolis Charter School Board within the mayor’s Office of Education Innovation authorizes its two other Indianapolis campuses.

The Purdue Polytechnic network has pitched a slow growth model for its new west campus, adding one grade each year to ultimately serve a maximum of 500 students in its seventh year.

Two other schools approved by Education One — Girls IN STEM Academy operated by Paramount Schools of Excellence and The Match high school operated by Matchbook Learning — still plan to open in the fall of 2024.

The opening of Girls IN Stem Academy in Washington Township has also sparked pushback from community members who are against charter schools. The fight has become a battle over zoning, as the school seeks to rezone property it acquired from a church to use for educational purposes. The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission will review its rezoning request at a meeting next week. The rezoning process, however, can be lengthy and ultimately ends with a vote from the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Like Purdue Polytechnic, Paramount also received approval from Education One for five separate charters. One of those charters is for Paramount South Bend, but the other three K-8 school locations have yet to be determined.

The Match plans to open off West 16th Street in warehouses that were renovated with the help of a U.S. Department of Energy grant.

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

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