(May 16, 2017)– The fourth community meeting on high school
closures on Tuesday evening welcomed another packed house—this time on Indy’s
west side at the Hawthorne Community Center. 
Audience members were anxious to learn more about the Facilities
Utilization Taskforce recommendation to close high schools moving forward with
four schools in the 2018-19 school year. 
Even though it was another near capacity crowd, the process of gathering
feedback was still designed to ensure every voice was heard with a small group
Table Talk format.  The mission was to
generate diverse ideas and suggestions so the district can make a
community-informed recommendation that names schools for potential closure.

 

“We structured this evening this way to capture all of the
thoughts and opinions in this room,” said Superintendent Dr. Lewis D.
Ferebee.  “As you hear the report and
begin to discuss it at your tables, we want you to know this is in the spirit
of enhancing the high school experience.”

 

The feedback echoed concerns and questions raised at
previous meetings namely transportation, questions about what happens to the
teachers and concerns about where the money saved is going.

 

The district has said rightsizing the high schools will
generate a savings of $4M a year.  The
district would reinvest those dollars into academic programs, teacher
compensation and support services for students. 
Teachers will receive greater support from colleagues, as well as
traditional resources, and they will be able to concentrate on teaching their
core subject areas and spending more one-on-one time with students.

 

It’s a pledge IPS continues to make good on despite the fact
that it’s operating in a $20M deficit.

 

“We have made investments in teacher compensation even
though we have seen dramatic cuts in state funding. After that five-year freeze
in teacher salaries and the $1000 less per pupil received from the state, we’ve
invested over $20M in compensation,” said Dr. Ferebee.  “To continue on that path and take care of
our employees and our students, we have to take every cost saving measure
possible.”

 

The fifth and final community meeting to engage in
discussion and generate suggestions that will inform district leaders’ June
proposal naming which schools should close is set for Thursday, May 18, at
Garfield Park Burrello Family Center at 2345 Pagoda Dr. from 6-8pm.  Registration is strongly encouraged to hold
your seat until the 6pm start time.  You
can register at myips.org/registration.  The administration is gathering the feedback
from the five community meetings to make a recommendation on: 1) which schools
to close, 2) a reuse plan for those buildings and 3) academic programming at
the buildings that remain open.  The
district has stated that no academic programs will be discontinued due to high
school closures.  They will be relocated
to high schools that remain open.

 

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