Arlington, Broad Ripple and Northwest high schools recommended for closure under IPS plan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee released his recommendations Wednesday regarding which three high schools should close as the district looks to reinvent itself.

After a series of meetings and feedback from students, parents, staff and the community, Ferebee recommended the closures of Broad Ripple High School, Arlington High School and Northwest High School.

IPS administrators said declining enrollment over the past few decades had led to buildings that are under capacity. The closures are expected to save the district $4 million a year.

Under Ferebee’s recommendation, Arlington and Northwest would cease to serve as high schools but would be converted to middle schools pending approval from the Indiana State Board of Education. Broad Ripple High School, on the other hand, would be sold, with the district hoping to get a sale price between $6 million and $8 million.

The plan also calls for the sale/lease of John Marshall Middle School along with two administrative buildings: Forest Manor and a facilities maintenance building at 16th and Monon.

IPS said closing Arlington High School and shifting to a middle school would account for the closure of John Marshall and serve a critical need. Administrators are also considering the possibility of opening a night school at the location for students who work full-time jobs. They will also explore the use of Arlington's athletics facilities for for IPS and non-IPS schools.

Broad Ripple, one of the earliest IPS schools, is located at the edge of the school district, making it difficult to attract and retain students. Many students who attend the Visual and Performing Arts Academy don’t live in the district, and many students who live in the district tend to choose other IPS programs.

Northwest would also transition into a middle school. Data from the district showed that most K-8 schools are over capacity, meaning Northwest could provide some relief for that issue. Transportation to Northwest is also costly, IPS said, since the school is located 7.1 miles from the center of the district.

Selling or leasing Broad Ripple, John Marshall and the two administrative buildings would garner up to $13 million in one-time revenue, the district estimated, and save $1.7 million in operating costs.

The remaining high schools—Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, George Washington and Shortridge—would operate under the choice model in which students select which school they want to attend based on their interests and the academies offered. The district said the high school that students attend won’t be based on their district.

For the 2018-2019 school year, IPS is also exploring the creation of middle and early colleges at Marian University, Ivy Tech and IUPUI.

Early college is a high standards, fast-paced environment where students take honors and AP courses in 9th and 10th grade before shifting to college-level courses taught by college professors in 11th and 12th grade. Students graduate with a high school diploma and two years of college courses.

A middle college offers the college experience for students seeking or needing a different educational experience than a traditional school setting, the district said.

Administrators will discuss the recommendations during a meeting Thursday night. The IPS board isn't expected to take action on the recommendations until September.

The board of school commissioners will also take their July and August meetings on the road to each of the schools recommended for closure. Each will include a period for public comment. Below is the information for those meetings:

Tuesday, July 18​​​ at 6 p.m. ​​​​​

Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities at 115 Broad Ripple Ave.

Thursday, July 20​​​ at 6 p.m.​​​​​​

John Marshall Community High School at 10101 E. 38th St.​​​​

Tuesday, August 29 at 6 p.m.

Arlington Community High School at 4825 N. Arlington Ave.

Thursday, August 31 at 6 p.m.

Northwest Community High School at 5525 W. 34th St.

The Broad Ripple Village Association issued a statement Wednesday, saying they believe it is "essential that the facility continues to be used for public educational purposes.

"It is imperative that the BRVA organization, and thereby the community, be able to shape the facility's re-use, which we strongly believe should remain scholastic and community-service-minded," the statement reads. The association plans on attending any future meetings about the planning process.