IPS sees drop in high school enrollment, considers closing some schools

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – All of the Indianapolis Public Schools high schools are under capacity, according to data released by the district. Now, the school board is considering school closures.

A presentation at Thursday night’s school board meeting indicated all of the district’s high school students could fit in just three of the seven IPS high school buildings. The district spends more than $6.2 million in operational costs for underused facilities.

“It’s really time to take a hard look and maybe make some tough choices,” said David Rosenberg, IPS operations officer.

For example, George Washington High School’s capacity is 1900 students. Next year, only about 400 students are expected to be enrolled at the school. Broad Ripple and Shortridge High Schools are also at less than 30 percent of their capacities.

“Everyone recognizes there is a problem but no one wants it to be their school that has the potential to not be there,” Rosenberg said.

IPS has lost nearly 20,000 high school students in the last 53 years. Rosenberg said the drop in enrollment is due to some historical factors and more families turning to township or charter schools.

“Parents are in the driver’s seat and they are able to decide what meets their student’s needs,” said Jennifer Wagner, spokesperson for Ed Choice. “What we’re seeing now is empowerment of students and parents to go where they need to go.”

Fewer students across seven schools forces the district to further divide already limited resources. An IPS presentation states this presents challenges for after-school and weekend tutoring, limits course offerings, and the district is less able to improve teacher talent pool due to increased staffing needs.

A 16-person task force is currently reviewing the current IPS high school situation.

“We want to make sure we’re providing a strong academic setting for students but also being goood stewards of taxpayers dollars,” Rosenberg said.

The task force is expected to make recommendation to the school board during the March meeting. Then, community meetings will be held throughout the summer. The school board could take action as early as September 2017.

To see the full IPS presentation, click here.

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