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IPS proposes school closures, parents allowed to weigh in Tuesday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—For the first time since announcing plans to close three high schools, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is opening the discussion up to parents and community members.

Tuesday at 6 p.m., parents can weigh in on the proposal at the Board of School Commissioners meeting at the Thomas D. Gregg School 15 in Indianapolis.

The Facilities Utilization Taskforce will present the full findings of its months-long report, in which it recommended the district close three high schools by the 2018-2019 school year.

The report, which was released last week, details a dramatic and stead decline in student population at IPS since the 1970s. All seven of the district’s high schools are dramatically under capacity, with five of the seven schools less than half full.

Arsenal Tech High School has the highest enrollment at 60-percent capacity. George Washington High School has the lowest enrollment with an estimated 400 students for the 2017 school year, which is only 21-percent of the school’s capacity.

IPS saw peak student enrollment back in 1967 with 109,000 students across elementary, middle and high schools. Over the next fifty years, the Taskforce reports a “myriad” of factors contributing to the steady decrease in student population leading to its current enrollment of just 30,000 students.

Part of the Taskforce’s report claims IPS could comfortably serve the current high school student population in only three high schools. However, it found that operating four high schools would give IPS better flexibility given any population shifts.

Critics of the recommendation, including the president of the Indianapolis Education Association say the closure of the schools may do more harm than good.

Rhondalyn Corbett says the closures may actually force parents to send their kids to charter schools, rather than opting to switch to a different IPS school. She also raises the question of the impact the closure of schools would have on the neighborhoods they once served.

"So I just need to know whats going to happen,”  she said.

Corbett also pointed out that teachers are raising concerns about job security ahead of the closures.

“They feel like there's a , I don’t want to say price on their head, but they feel they have a target on their back. Like they're the ones that are going to be targeted to move to go, to retire, to quit," she said.

The public comments Tuesday night will be the first of a series of meetings throughout April and May. By June, the administration will likely identify which high schools it will recommend for closure. Then in September, the board will vote on facility closures.

Board president Mary Ann Sullivan says parents and concerned taxpayers should make sure their voices are heard at the public comment sessions, as they could potentially impact any final recommendations.

“It is our hope that that public input can be integrated into the final recommendations of the task force and it will make it a stronger recommendation because of that input”

To sign up for public comment, you can visit: http://www.myips.org//cms/module/selectsurvey/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=374

The next public meetings will be held:

Wednesday, April 26
Glendale Library
6101 N. Keystone Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
6:00 - 8:00 pm

Monday, May 1
Ivy Tech Culinary Center
2820 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
6:00 - 8:00 pm

Thursday, May 11
Zion Hope Baptist Church
5950 E 46th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46226
6:00 - 8:00 pm

Monday, May 15
Haughville Library
2121 W. Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
6:00 - 8:00 pm

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