August 30, 2017
Tuesday night’s public comment session at Arlington High School included a steady stream of speakers stepping to the microphone asking the IPS Board of School Commissioners to save Arlington High School and continue to operate it as a high school. Alums shared fond memories of their time spent at the school and community partners shared success stories of recent student improvement and continued community engagement.
“Tonight we heard a lot of great input as far as how great this facility is,” said Superintendent Lewis D. Ferebee. “A lot of people were focused on not moving this facility. We want to remind people we will maintain this facility based upon this proposal that is before the commissioners.”
That proposal includes re-purposing the building as a middle school by day and an evening high school program by night. The recommendation also includes closing several central service offices and relocating those staff members to Arlington. If approved, the plan would go into effect with the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Under the plan to reinvent IPS high schools, Northwest High School would also be converted to a middle school with some central services and staff relocating to that facility. John Marshall Middle School and Broad Ripple High School for the Arts and Humanities would be closed and sold for community reuse. The Visual & Performing Arts and Humanities programing would be moved to Shortridge High School. Shortridge, Crispus Attucks, George Washington and Arsenal Technical high schools would remain open.
The recommendation also includes launching new College and Career-Themed Academies at the high schools. The academies along with the existing choice high school programs would offer 45 pathways to ensure graduates are adequately prepared to enroll in a two or four-year college or university, enlist in the military or be employed at a livable wage. Students will have 100 percent choice when deciding what high school they want to attend. The all-choice model will reduce the impacts of student mobility at the high school level, as all students will be transported to the school of their choice regardless of their home address.
“I worry less about the facility students are in and I worry more about their educational experience. These changes are all in an effort to give them a better educational experience and at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important to us,” said Dr. Ferebee.
Several parents backed that up speaking in support of the plan to better prepare students for success after graduation.
“The more I looked into the plan, the more I saw an opportunity for positive change,” said LaToya Tahirou. “It offers real choice. Our current schools aren’t populated enough. This plan is real change. It’s a new way forward. I understand why some people have strong feelings about their neighborhood schools. There are fewer students today. We have to keep in mind what is best for our children.”
With the start of the 2017-18 school year, teacher, student and parent advisory groups will form to assist the District Transition Team. The Teacher Advisory group will include building-level Teacher of the Year winners. The Student Advisory group will include student representatives from each school and the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council members. Parent representatives from each school will make up the Parent Advisory group.
The community will have a final chance to share feedback on the plan before commissioners on Thursday, August 31st at 5:30pm at Northwest High School. Those wishing to speak are encouraged to sign up by noon on Thursday at myips.org.