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Questions, concerns at first IPS school closures meeting

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Tonight, dozens of parents are learning more about the IPS taskforce recommendation to close three high schools.

A facilities report out late last week lays out a timeline to make a decision in time for the 2018 school year

However, no decision has been made about which schools to get rid of.

IPS high schools are way under capacity.

The district says closing a few will save $4 million, but some parents and neighborhood leaders argue communities will lose millions too.

“Schools are the heart of the community,” said IPS parent Valerie Garrett. “When a school is gone, the community suffers.”

Valerie Garrett has a middle schooler whose high school, Arlington, may be closed by the time she’s a freshman.

“When that high school closes, what do you do?” asks Garrett. “In the reports that I read, they sell the building. Who wants to buy a high school building? What are they going to put in?”

While the taskforce members say they’re prepared to have community meetings to brainstorm ideas for how to utilize the empty buildings, Garrett worries that a large, boarded-up building, could slowly destroy her neighborhood.

She and IUPUI urban education professor Jim Scheurich believe the district report doesn’t show careful thought about the community impact of closing community schools.

“How can you talk about closing schools without looking carefully at the impact on the different racial communities in Indianapolis?” asked Scheurich from the podium.

The taskforce which wrote the report explained the growth trends they see, that led them to recommend closing some high schools, which Garrett also questioned.

“If you have an increase in enrollment in elementary-aged children and at the same time frame have a decrease in high school enrollment, where are these eighth-graders going if they’re not going to high school?” questioned Garrett.

Taskforce representatives say they’re projecting most of the growth in elementary schoolers will be absorbed by other area public, private and parochial schools. They even project that many students will go to a growing number of IPS innovation network schools.

Board president Mary Ann Sullivan hopes people keep showing up to the community meetings to ask tough questions to help them weigh their options.

“I also think that it’s an opportunity for people to understand kind of the hard reality that the board has to deal with as stewards of the public trust,” said Sullivan.

There are some that are better and some that are worse than others,” said Garrett of the options facing parents. “It’s a fight.”

There are four more meetings scheduled in April and May for public discussion, with a fifth possible depending on .

At some meetings, you may have to sign up ahead of time to speak. Check back on this story for a link to the sign-up page closer to the next meeting.

Meeting Schedule:
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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