IPS board votes to separate middle and high school students

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Middle school and high school students will soon no longer go to class together in the Indianapolis Public Schools system.

The IPS board voted unanimously Thursday night to separate the middle schools and high schools.

"A 12-year-old shouldn’t be at the same school as an 18-year-old," says parent Latoya Tahirou. "You know our kids grow up so fast as it is, so I think they should be split up."

The board agreed, voting to shuffle the 2,033 middle grade students currently walking the hallways with high school students.

"Academically it’s not working well for our middle school students," says Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. "Secondly, the safety concerns having 12 and 13-year-olds on the same campus as 17 and 18-year-olds or even older is very scary for us. And we’ve heard from parents they don’t believe that is the best situation for their students."

To make the change, IPS will expand five K-6 elementary schools  to K-8 schools.

When the 2017-2018 school year begins, these elementary schools will expand from K-6 to K-8:

  • George W. Julian School 57
  • James Whitcomb Riley School 43
  • Stephen Foster School 67
  • Washington Irving School 14
  • Wendell Phillips School 63

They’re also starting another middle school focused on STEM and the healthcare field, which will be located at the Longfellow building.

West side parent Christina Smith says she's concerned that the plan does not include a dedicated middle school on the west side.

"There are a lot of schools on the west side that aren’t gonna be expanded to 8th grade, so where are those seventh graders gonna go?" asks Smith during the public comment section. "They’re gonna be bused across the city or have to try to get into a school that’s going to be expanded to 7th and 8th grade? (51) Many of which are at capacity?"

IPS says the expansion of Phillips, Foster and James W. Riley School will "create enough seats to accommodate each school's own rising 7th graders, plus enough seats for nearly twice the number of rising 7th graders currently attending other K-6 schools on the west side which feed into George Washington and Northwest. This is in addition to our magnet options, which create additional middle grades seats."

To complete the plan, current community high schools will, over time, become high schools only.

"Parents should know that we are not doing it in a way to be disruptive where there are multiple moves," says Ferebee. "Many middle school students will stay into the school they are in until it’s phased to 9-12."

John Marshall Community High School will transition to a middle school, serving 7th and 8th Grade students who live in both the John Marshall and Arlington Community High School boundaries starting in the 2017-18 school year.

Arlington will transition to a traditional high school model, serving only students in grades 9-12 from east side neighborhoods, including current John Marshall high school students, also starting during the next school year.

The remaining combined middle/high schools - Broad Ripple High School for the Arts and Humanities, George Washington Community High School and Northwest Community High School - will gradually phase out middle grades. This means current middle grade students will get to decide whether to stay put for the next one to two years before moving to high school there. They can also choose to go to one of the K-8 schools or dedicated middle schools.

To view the complete IPS presentation on school reconfiguration, including information they'll consider next year when deciding which high schools to close down the line, click here.

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