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IPS parents and residents vent about school closing concerns

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - With tensions rising, IPS leaders made their formal recommendation to close three district high schools to “reinvent” the IPS high school experience.

That recommendation happened during a board meeting Thursday night, in which many people spoke against against the decision to close down Broad Ripple, Arlington, and Northwest high schools.

“How is this board and administration going to guarantee students and taxpayers that the savings from closing buildings and disrupting our students education will actually go back to the classrooms?” asked parent Christina Smith, who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Many who were there think the district has other options. However, IPS maintained the financial cost of running seven high schools, none of which are close to capacity, is just too costly.

“All of our decisions are based in what we believe is in the best interest of our students,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee.

Despite a slew of public meetings recently, some at the meeting said the concerns of those who would be most affected by the closures have fallen on deaf ears.

“While the district has hosted community meetings, numerous parents, students and teachers have felt the district has not listened,” said concerned resident Andrew Gatza.

Freebie said he, along with district leadership, is listening to the concerns of those who will be impacted.

“This is a very delicate situation,” said Ferebee, “where we need to ensure that we respect and honor the voices of our community [and] that's why we have additional meetings where people can give us feedback.” 

During the meeting, a presentation laid out how the four remaining high schools would be structured, along with how students in the affected schools would be transitioned into the new system starting in the 2018-2019 school year. While IPS officials say nothing has been finalized, many people believe the decision has already been made. Ferebee said nothing has been decided.

“No, I think its something that could be adjusted or revised…but there’s a chance the recommendation could stay as is,” said Ferebee.​