Future of IPS high schools topic of public meetings

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IPS file photo

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Changes are on the horizon for IPS high schools.

With declining enrollment and some poor middle school test scores, a task force is working to turn things around.

Last year, only three percent of John Marshall middle schoolers passed the ISTEP on the first try. It has an “F” letter grade from the state.

The building’s high school has also struggled for some years, with a “D” letter grade.

At a public information meeting Wednesday night, officials made it clear they believe neither will improve unless they’re both separated.

“Putting little kids in a school with older and more mature kids is like, they think that they can do what we do,” said John Marshall student and JROTC cadet Daisha Martin.

Martin agrees with IPS officials who believe 6th, 7th and 8th graders sharing buildings with 12th graders are worse off in the classroom.

IPS representatives told parents getting rid of combination middle-high schools is their greatest priority.

It won’t be an easy task.

IPS would need to move 2,033 middle schoolers out of combined schools. Only 156 seats are available right now in K-8 or true middle school.

Moving around 6th-8th graders would also require shuffling high school students.

Right now some high schools are far from being filled. Moving high school students could bring some buildings closer to capacity, but also means John Marshall or other schools could close, a prospect that worries Martin and fellow JROTC cadet T’Audra Mcghee.

“We would be limited because we do a lot of community service and go on a lot of field trips and other schools don’t do that,” said Mcghee of their experience with Marshall JROTC.

Latoya Tahirou was in the crowd intently listening to the options. She created the initial petition that charged IPS with making drastic changes at John Marshall, despite the fact that none of her children attend John Marshall.

“I live in this neighborhood,” said Tahirou. “I live two blocks away from here and so potentially my child could go to this school and even if she never does go to this school, I still want to do my part to help change.”

Most parents and community members who spoke at the meeting vocalized their displeasure with the idea of Carmel-sized schools for their students. While they understood the gain in efficiency and increase in vocational training and services that might be available, many hoped to see the proposed shift to expanding academies without expanding the size of student bodies.

Tahirou was at the meeting to see that school officials are keeping the communities and students at the forefront when making their final decision.

“I’m hoping that whatever they decide to do, they’re keeping the children in mind first and how it’s going to affect them,” said Tahirou.

IPS is hosting a final public information session Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Broad Ripple High School.

The taskforce will present its final recommendations to the school board at a working session next week and school board members could vote on the issue as soon as their August 25 meeting.


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