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IPS vs. People: Parents grow concerned over future IPS restructuring plan

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Parents and members of the community are advocating for more than just “vague statements” regarding the Indianapolis Public Schools Rebuilding Stronger plan. The plan promises upgrades to the current structure of the IPS school system but could also potentially involve the closing of several neighborhood schools.

“I think there’s a lack of transparency and the water is intentionally muddy,” IPS parent Megan Kribel said during the public board meeting on Aug. 25. The meeting featured nearly 40 people who gave public comments on the plan and wanted more clarity on the board’s active proposal.

IPS has publicly stated how the decreased enrollment in neighborhood schools has led to low building usage and financial woes. Their Rebuilding Stronger committee has a plan in place to ensure better facilities, academic programs and classroom progress over the next year.

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson formed a proposal earlier this summer that would:

·         Create new enrollment zones.

·         Close low-performing schools.

·         Eliminate proximity priority zone enrollment.

·         Replicate high performing schools.

The board believes this model is the gateway into creating racial equity and higher academic progress across IPS schools.

Parents, on the other hand, would like more clarity on whether certain schools could be closed or merged, making some kindergarten through fifth grade. They assembled in a large group during the Aug. 25 meeting.

Almost every seat was filled, but not everyone was pleased to listen to the board issue their plans to remove the K-8 model and include charter schools into the district.

One parent spokeopenly about not being able to send her child to a private school due to the costs and urged the Board to understand the success the current model has had on her child.

Another speaker, who was a seventh grader, expressed how the K-8 model aided her with being in the same building throughout multiple grades. She also reassured the board that the K-8 model refrains her from becoming “nervous” in her environment, which would likely happen if she attended school elsewhere.

District officials are considering integrating some schools to enhance student performance and expand resources, but also want to increase better opportunities for Black and Hispanicstudents to succeed.

ILEARN scores for 2022 were released a month ago, measuring math and language arts skills for grades 3-8. While all Black, white, and Hispanic students showed improvement, the scores revealed that white students showed a greater leap of improvement.

“It’s not about school type or anything like that,” Carolina Figueroa said, a representative with Stand for Children, an education advocacy group. “It’s literally about the data and seeing our Black and brown kids succeed.” 

Another member with Stand for Children also pleaded to the board that it’s not about African American and Hispanic students being less intelligent or incapable, but more so not having access to high-quality programs that assure academic success.

The formal proposal of the Rebuilding Stronger plan will be released to the public on Sept. 13.

Community engagement meetings will be held from Sept. 14-Oct. 17. The board is expected to vote on the plan in November.

Contact staff writer Levi Jackson at 317-504-8626 or email levij@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @posterboylevi.

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