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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Indianapolis Public Schools

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Indianapolis Public Schools has entered into a bittersweet phase that Superintendent Eugene White has called both a “a tough time, and a great time.”

Times are tough because the state’s largest school system has been losing an average of 1,000 students per year since 2000 and its general fund has dropped by $20 million. However, officials say those challenges offer a “great time” for the district to reinvent itself by creating more education options for students.

“We’re going to turn these losses into a tremendous positive for our students,” White told the Recorder. “Sometimes when you’ve got adversity you can use it as an opportunity. The drop in enrollment has actually presented an incredible opportunity for us to reinvent our district and make it the very best that it can be.”

During a series of public meetings White has been discussing a sweeping plan designed to respond to declining enrollment and prevent it in the future.

The plan, which would go into effect during the 2008-09 school year, includes the closing of four elementary schools and three middle schools, the creation of community high schools and the addition of more magnet programs.

Parents and students will notice a change in boundaries under the redistricting plans as schools expand their jurisdiction to take in students coming from schools that are closing. School officials say it doesn’t make sense to keep some schools open when they are at low capacity, and transferring students to other facilities allows IPS to make the best use of each building as the district adjusts to reduced financial resources.

White outlined key points of his plan during a gathering of parents, teachers and school board members at Arlington High School on Tuesday.

Students will have three different types of high schools available to them under the plan, including traditional high schools, community high schools that emphasize greater cooperation with parents and neighborhoods, and thematic magnet high schools that develop specific talents and interests of students.

By 2009 IPS will have several magnet schools dedicated to students interested in such fields as medicine, law, performing arts, telecommunications, visual arts, humanities, mathematics, foreign language and technology. The district will also maintain its successful Montessori programs.

Some school officials and parents believe that the primary causes of decreasing enrollment in IPS are families moving out of the district into township areas, and competition from charter schools.

“We’re not making excuses, those are just the facts,” said IPS spokeswoman Kim Hooper.

White believes that parents will be less likely to remove their children from the IPS system if they are given more options in the district.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with this plan,” he explained.

Several schools will also be reconfigured to include grades 7-12 to reduce the “shock” that some middle school students face when making the transition to a different environment in high school. By the 2009-10 academic year IPS will have just three middle schools.

The next public forum on the plan will take place Monday at 7 p.m. at Northwest High School, 5525 W. 34th St. After school officials review recommendations from the public the plan will be submitted for final approval to the IPS School Board.

For more information about the redistricting plan call log on to www.ips.k12.in.us or call. (317) 226-2160.

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