A school facilities task force recommends that the Indianapolis school district close three of its seven high schools for the 2018-2019 school year.
The district could save more than $4 million annually if it follows through with the recommendations, which will give IPS administrators an opportunity to redirect the savings to students and teachers, according to the report released Friday.
“The continued operation of too many underutilized high schools presents a significant barrier to ensuring that the greatest possible portion of district funding is allocated to classrooms,” the report noted.
Buildings—nearly 70 over 80 square miles—are huge expenses for the district, according to the task force, which was made up of eight individuals who worked for IPS and eight from outside of the district.
Population exodus had been the most significant factor in the sharp drop in enrollment in Indianapolis’ public schools between 1960s and today. Charter growth since the 2000s has further chipped away at IPS’ enrollment.
Once the largest district in the state, with 109,000 students in 1967, Indianapolis now has about 30,000 students. In the 2017-2018 school year, the district’s seven high schools will have 5,352 students—an average of 763 students per building, according to the report.
While the city and Marion County, in which the city is located, have seen their population grow in recent years, those residents are less likely to have school-aged children or leave when they have children, the report said. Even with newer families enrolling in IPS elementary schools, four high schools would be enough to accommodate them, the report said.
Under Lewis Ferebee, who became IPS’ superintendent in 2013, the district has sought to make IPS schools more attractive by increasing school choice and by offering a variety of different academic models.
The report sets out a timeline for further discussion on the possible closures, but leaves the decision about which schools would close up to the district administrators. The public will also have opportunities to have a say. The timeline proposes a vote on any possible closure in September 2017.
Image source: Indianapolis Public Schools Facilities Utilization Taskforce Report, April 18, 2017
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.