September 2, 2017

The last public hearing on high school closures and conversions took place at Northwest High School on Thursday night. Speakers included a string of students who shared emotional stories about their time spent at Northwest and the bonds made.

Over the last four months, the Administration has carefully considered and reviewed feedback shared by more than 3000 community members, students and staff through a series of 25 engagement sessions beginning in April 2017.

“The comments we heard tonight and throughout our public engagement with the community through the public hearings and town halls will be under consideration as we go forward,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee.

The process to reinvent IPS high schools started with the Facilities Utilization Taskforce Report. That report showed the majority of the district’s high schools were less than 50 percent full creating a drain on district resources. By reducing the number of high schools to four, the district could reinvest the more than $7 million dollars saved into student and teacher resources in the classroom. In June, the Administration announced its recommendation to reinvent IPS high schools.

That plan includes converting Northwest and Arlington high schools to middle schools. Arlington would also add an evening high school program. The recommendation also proposes closing several central service offices and relocating those staff members and operations to Northwest and 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, 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 program would be moved to Shortridge High School. Shortridge, Crispus Attucks, George Washington and Arsenal Technical high schools would remain open.

“There’s still the need to remind the community that this is not a facilities plan,” said Dr. Ferebee. “This is not a plan to generate savings. This is an academic plan to better serve high school students and give them a better experience.”

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.

“Research shows students that are engaged in career pathways in high school experience greater  performance in terms of graduation outcomes and academic achievement,” said Dr. Ferebee.

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.