IPS reverses course on School 43 plan that ‘blindsided’ community leaders

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
School 43 will have community meetings to plan for the future.

A week after revealing a plan to convert School 43 to a magnet program with a focus on physical activity, Indianapolis Public Schools leaders are reversing course. They plan to seek more public input before making a decision.

At a meeting with community leaders last night, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee agreed to hold forums for the public and parents to discuss the future of the school. The school could become a magnet or innovation school or remain a traditional neighborhood school.

The move comes on the heels of a school board meeting Aug. 16 that turned heated when the administration revealed plans to convert School 43 to the district’s second SUPER school, a popular magnet program currently in School 19. The plans had not been discussed with community leaders who have strongly supported the school.

“We felt so blindsided,” said Brenda Vance Paschal, a neighborhood association member who has been heavily involved with the school. “If you were thinking about this, why didn’t you tell us?”

School 43, which is in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood on the north side of downtown, has grappled with rock-bottom test scores, discipline problems and unstable leadership in recent years. In February, the district sent a top leader to run the school after the principal resigned without warning. A new principal who grew up in the neighborhood took the helm this year, and he has won support from community leaders.

Throughout the turmoil, the school has been buoyed by strong support from dozens of volunteer tutors, the nearby community center and Great Places 2020, a community group devoted to revitalizing the neighborhood. Leaders have been discussing the future of the school and planning community meetings about the school for the last several months.

At the Aug. 16 board meeting, school board member Kelly Bentley said the district was making a “huge mistake” by not getting input from community leaders.

“The district generally doesn’t do a good job of really reaching out and having these conversations with the community,” she said. “They are the owners of the schools. We ought to give them input on some of this stuff.”

District officials released the proposal to turn School 43 into a magnet school as part of their plan for moving middle school students across IPS from combined middle-high schools to dedicated middle schools and elementary schools serving students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The plan called for turning School 43 into a SUPER school and adding seventh and eighth grade students.

The updated proposal from the administration does not include the conversion to a magnet program, but the school will still add the middle grades. The board is expected to vote on the plan Thursday.

Future of Schools

These 29 Indianapolis administrators could lose their jobs

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

Indianapolis Public Schools has identified dozens of principals, deans and other administrators who could lose their jobs at the end of the year, many because of the decision to close high schools.

As the district pursues plans to close three of its seven high schools, the superintendent recommended that the board cancel the contracts of 29 administrators effective July 1.

The list of administrators includes two high school principals and several assistant principals and deans whose contracts could be canceled because of the high school closing plan. Several high school athletic directors could also have their contracts canceled because the district is changing the job description and requirements for those positions, according to IPS spokesperson Carrie Cline Black.

They were all invited to apply to other open positions in the district, but the district is canceling their contracts because state law requires districts to notify certain administrators by March 1 if their contracts will not be renewed, according to Black.

The recommendation, which is included in the district’s monthly personnel report, is not entirely surprising, since the district anticipated having fewer administrators once it consolidates campuses. But the district had not previously revealed which staff members could lose their positions.

This is just the latest sign of the upheaval caused by the high school closings. Hundreds of high school teachers were required to reapply for their jobs, and students were required to select new high school programs for next year.

Here is the full list of staffers the superintendent recommended canceling contracts for:

Arlington High School

  • Debra Barlowe, dean
  • Arthur Dumas, dean
  • David Tuttle, assistant principal
  • Debra Ward, assistant principal
  • Danny Wilson, athletic director

Arsenal Technical High School

  • Anne Deckard, dean
  • Sheldon Floyd, assistant principal
  • Steven Glenn, dean
  • Thomas Starnes, athletic director
  • Roslyn Stradford, assistant principal
  • Lisa Williams, dean

Broad Ripple High School

  • John Edge, assistant principal
  • Robert Moses, interim assistant principal
  • Rachel Norwood, magnet coordinator
  • Vickie Winslow, dean

Crispus Attucks High School

  • Kenneth Roseman, athletic director
  • Joshua Varno, athletic director

George Washington High School

  • Emily Butler, principal
  • Zachary Ervin, dean
  • Patrick Kennison, assistant principal
  • Charonda Woods, assistant principal

Northwest Community High School

  • Moshfilay Anderson, athletic director
  • Eileen Bell, assistant principal
  • Michelle Brittain-Watts, principal
  • Martha Lince, dean
  • Alan Smith, assistant principal
  • Albert Young, dean

Positive Supports Academy

  • Kevin Brown, dean

Shortridge High School

  • Kathy Langdon, athletic director

What do you think?

Detroiters react with praise — and fury — as district changes how it will decide who gets into Cass Tech and Renaissance

A student wearing a Renaissance High School t-shirt competes in a robotics competition.

Reaction was swift and strong last week when Chalkbeat reported that Detroit’s main school district is changing the way students are admitted to Cass Technical High School, Renaissance High School and two other selective schools.

Some parents, teachers, students and members of the schools’ devoted alumni associations praised the district’s decision to reduce the role of testing in admissions decisions. But others expressed anger and concern about how the changes will affect the schools and how decisions about the changes were made.

Instead of basing admissions decisions primarily on the results of a single exam, the district will this year turn the process over to an admissions team comprised of teachers and staff from the schools, as well as administrators in the district’s central office. They will use a score card to decide admissions with just 40 percent of a student’s score coming from the high school placement exam. The rest of the points will come from grades, essays and letters of recommendations. Students currently enrolled in the district will get 10 bonus points that will give them an edge over students applying from charter and suburban schools.

The news turned into one of the most talked about stories on our site this year — and readers’ reactions ran the gamut. Read some of what our readers had to say below.

Some thought the change was problematic:

Others applauded the changes:

A current Cass Tech teacher said she agreed the admissions process needed to change, but was concerned that the district did not ask for her input on the new system:

How do you feel about the new admissions process? Tell us below in the comments or weigh on on Facebook or Twitter.