IPS hears concerns over school closings

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- The public had its last chance to convince IPS school board members not to close several popular high schools.

It’s been a hot button issue since the district announced it plans to close or re-purpose several high schools and district buildings earlier this summer.

Thursday’s meeting was held at Northwest High School, which is set to be converted into a middle school along with Arlington High School under the proposal.

Plans also call for Broad Ripple High School to be closed in order to address the district’s deep financial woes.

“I understand that change is needed,” said one concerned speaker at the meeting, “I’m not against it, but we have to be smart.”

Many there said IPS did not explore all its options, which is something district leaders disagree with.

“Wwe’ve explored every option,” said IPS Operations Officer David Rosenberg, “we held six different meetings where we had over 700 attendees at those meetings, [and] based on that response we altered the plan and changed it to where it is today.”

Some say the district should instead sell its administrative headquarters downtown first. Leaders counter that there are already two different administrative buildings identified for sale.

“We know the ties folks have to their school,” said Rosenberg, “and what the schools mean in those communities, so these are very, very difficult decisions.”

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee also addressed a lingering concern of many at the meeting, which is that board members made up their minds months ago, and that these meetings are little more than political theater.

“If we don’t have these meetings, then people would say you didn’t engage the public,” said Ferebee, “and we have these meetings, then you get the argument well the decision has already been made.”

Ferebee said the board is still making up its mind.

“We remain committed to hearing their concerns and listening to their voice to drive our decisions,” said Ferebee.

The board will vote on the issue of what schools to close and repurpose at their board meeting on September 18.