At Indianapolis Public Schools, we know fine arts are vital to our success. The arts give students a creative outlet, build a sense of community, promote critical thinking skills, and for some students, it’s the reason they come to school every day.

In our current arts allocation model, many of our elementary schools share music teachers who travel between locations. To create equity among our schools, IPS created a new staffing model to ensure every school has a full-time music educator on site permanently. Schools with high enrollment or other identified areas of need are given what’s called an “additional special area allocation,” meaning the principal has the ability to choose a specialized educator to fulfill the school’s specific needs.

As we pilot this new allocation model, we will make adjustments when necessary. For example, four of our schools – Center for Inquiry School 2, Center for Inquiry School 27, Center for Inquiry School 84 and Nicholson Performing Arts Academy at School 70 – will receive additional allowances, revising their initial staff allowances to meet the needs of their instructional programs. The CFIs will each have an additional .5 position to use at the principals’ discretion, and Nicholson Performing Arts will receive the two additional full-time educators currently needed to meet the needs of our young performers.

We believe in giving our principals autonomy to best suit the needs of their school communities. Some of our schools receiving additional staff allocations will fill the position with art, physical education, technology or media specialist positions.

Indianapolis Public Schools remains committed to arts education, as evidenced by the busy spring our student artists and musicians are experiencing. The district has been running free Fine Arts Camps at the following locations:

  • Visual Art Camp: James Russell Lowell School 51 and George W. Julian School 57
  • Theatre Camp: Clarence Farrington School 61 and Francis W. Parker Montessori School 56
  • Choir Camp: Francis W. Parker and Stephen Foster School 67
  • Band Camp: Clarence Farrington and Stephen Foster
  • Dance Camp: Nicholson Performing Arts Academy at School 70 (for students from James Russell Lowell, George W. Julian, Clarence Farrington, Francis W. Parker, and Stephen Foster)

These camps running from April 11 through May 16, Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to noon, have been a great opportunity for students to explore arts they are interested in and exercise their creative muscles. Breakfast and a snack to take home, transportation, supplies and instruments have been provided by the district to make certain all students could participate.

Some Riverside School 44 fourth and fifth graders have had their art displayed with other Indiana students downtown in the Indiana Artsgarden, from April 13 through May 17. In partnership with Earth Charter Indiana, they created 3D monarch butterfly sculptures from repurposed materials to raise awareness about the monarch’s plight. It has been a great combination of arts and environmental education!

Thomas D. Gregg School 15 has been working with Arts for Learning on a program called Fresh StART Indy to use student art involvement as a way to improve their community. In a series of workshops and community nights, students used different art-based strategies, everything from storytelling, poetry and songwriting to the visual arts, to imagine new ideas of what to do with vacant properties across from the school.

The final work inspired by the program with the help of visual artist Meredith Brickell is a 6’ x 6’ and 12’ tall Cloud Observatory that will be installed at 518 North Beville Avenue and be open to the public the second week of June. “The Cloud Observatory defines a space for wonder and reflection within this community. It activates both the imagination and the project site,” said Brickell.

Our artists and musicians at Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities have had a busy and successful spring as well. The Broad Ripple band students earned the Indiana State School Music Association Band All-Music Award for the second straight year!

These are just some of the amazing arts programs that IPS and our partners continue to cultivate so all our students can achieve to their own imaginations, rather than be bound by limitations imposed by issues of equity. We have exciting plans for 2015-2016 and can’t wait to see what comes next from our talented student artists, musicians and performers!