School Closings

Broad Ripple High School will probably close next year. Here’s what you should know.

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Students from Broad Ripple attended a meeting in April about high school closing plans.

Broad Ripple High School could graduate its last class of seniors this spring — more than a century after it began educating students.

The second oldest high school in Indianapolis Public Schools, Broad Ripple is one of three IPS high schools slated to close at the end of the year under a plan released by Superintendent Lewis Ferebee last month. The IPS board is expected to vote on the proposal in September.

The board will have a meeting 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Broad Ripple, which will begin with 90 minutes for public comment on the high school plan. The deadline to sign up online to speak is noon Tuesday.

There are some strong reasons to keep Broad Ripple open, but there also are practical factors that likely influenced the administration’s recommendation to close the school.

Here are some reasons to keep Broad Ripple open:

  • Broad Ripple has deeply loyal alumni, parents and students who have strongly advocated for the school in recent months. (The alumni include IPS board member Kelly Bentley.)
  • The school is doing relatively well academically — it received a C grade from the state last year — and the district estimates that the graduation rate for the class of 2017 will be 97.6 percent, one of the highest in the district.
  • It’s home to a beloved visual and performing arts magnet program that attracts students from across the district. Under the administration proposal, that program would continue to operate at Shortridge High School.

Here are some reasons Broad Ripple is facing closure:

  • The school is expected to be just 25 percent full this fall, with 591 students in a building designed to fit 2,400.
  • The cost of operating the Broad Ripple campus is slightly less than the district average at $1,234 per student, but by increasing enrollment at the remaining four schools, the district will almost certainly reduce those costs.
  • The four schools the administration recommended keeping are near downtown, which IPS says will make transportation easier and cheaper for the all-magnet model. Broad Ripple is at the far northern edge of the district, and it would be a long commute for many students.
  • In fact, because the arts magnet attracts students from across IPS, bus rides average 7.39 miles — the longest of any high school and nearly double the district average.
  • Finally, Broad Ripple is located in a thriving area where development is booming, making it one of the most valuable properties the district owns. The district expects it could sell the property for $6 million to $8 million.

Correction (July 18, 2017): This story has been updated to reflect that Broad Ripple High School was not built in 1923, as stated in the IPS high school closing report. That was the year the school, which was founded decades earlier, joined the district.

Transition plan

Students at one Memphis elementary school may relocate during construction

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede
Students demonstrate ancient Chinese martial arts during a showcase for parents at the end of Shelby County Schools' 2017 summer learning academy at Alcy Elementary School.

Students at Alcy Elementary School in South Memphis likely won’t be staying put during construction of their new school.

It’s also possible that the new building won’t be ready until January of 2020 instead of the fall of 2019 as originally planned.

School board members will vote in the coming months on whether to temporarily relocate Alcy students to Magnolia Elementary. The original plan was to stay in the current building until a replacement is built on another part of Alcy’s campus.

“Our construction staff said there wasn’t enough land to build the new school and operate the old school with parking lot and dropoffs and do it all safely,” explained Billy Orgel, who chairs the board’s facilities committee for Shelby County Schools.

Orgel’s panel reviewed the construction schedule on Monday with facility staff members for the district.

The new $19 million building will merge students from Alcy, Magnolia, and Charjean elementary schools. Eventually, the old Alcy building will be demolished, while the other two school buildings will be leveled or sold. It’s all part of Superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s plan to close, build, and consolidate seven schools into three new ones, similar to an earlier project at Westhaven Elementary.

Board members mulled the possibility of relocating Alcy students in January to stay on construction schedule but opted to recommend a move at the end of the school year — a decision that would push construction back by about six months.

“It’s more orderly for everyone to have the summer to prepare rather than the holidays,” Orgel said.

Students at Goodlett Elementary, another school in Hopson’s consolidation plan, will stay in their current building while a new one is built nearby. The new school will bring in students from Knight Road Elementary, along with some from Sheffield and Getwell elementary schools. Knight Road is be demolished later.

After the Alcy and Goodlett projects, the next construction phase calls for a new K-12 Woodstock school that would merge with Lucy and Northaven elementary schools.

School Closings

Hired: Indianapolis Public Schools chooses principals to help ‘reinvent’ high schools

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

Indianapolis Public Schools went on a hiring spree Thursday, selecting principals for the four high schools that will remain open next fall and a new chief of staff.

Four current IPS leaders will take the helm at its high schools next year — three of whom will remain at schools they now lead. The district interviewed several external candidates and increased the salary cap for principals to $150,000 per year as part of a school reconfiguration that included closing three high schools. The principals chosen are:

  • Shane O’Day will remain as principal of Shortridge High School,
  • Lauren Franklin will remain as principal of Crispus Attucks High School,
  • Stan Law, who is currently principal at Arlington High School, will take over at George Washington High School, and
  • Lloyd Bryant, who took over as interim principal at Arsenal Technical High School when Julie Bakehorn was abruptly removed, will become the permanent principal at the school.

“They have the ability to lead the academy model and do it really well,” said Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. “I’m excited about their leadership, and I look forward to them sharing their vision with students and families.”

The board also approved hiring Ahmed Young as chief of staff. A former teacher and lawyer by training, Young previously oversaw charter schools for Mayor Joe Hogsett.

As IPS chief of staff, Young will work on both academic and operational oversight. Ferebee said that Young will take on some of the responsibilities of Wanda Legrand and David Rosenberg, two top administrators who recently left the district. But the district may hire an additional staffer as well.

“He’s a very talented guy, and he’s shown that in his work in the mayor’s office,” Ferebee said. “We are really fortunate to have him on the team.”

Young will be paid $150,000 per year. Three of the principals — Law, O’Day and Franklin — will be paid $125,000 per year, at least $20,000 more than each currently makes. Principal Bryant, who will lead the largest school, will be paid $140,000 per year, up from his current salary of $110,000 per year.

The four principals will also be paid additional stipends this year to plan for the academies and hire teachers in the coming months.

The principals will lead their schools through a significant transition as the district switches to an all magnet high school model in 2018-2019, branded as “reinventing” high schools. Each school will have academies with focus areas such as the performing arts, health sciences and information technology. Instead of choosing a high school by location, students will be expected to select an academy based on their interests.

Last week, the board voted to close three high schools after months of contentious meetings over the proposal. Arlington, Northwest and Broad Ripple high schools will close at the end of this year. The move follows decades of shrinking enrollment as the district loses students to suburban, charter and private schools.