Education

IPS Rebuilding Stronger plan closes, merges school; reconstructs K-8 model

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Public Schools board has been working on the Rebuilding Stronger plan for the last year and is in Phase 3 of 4.

Phase 3 includes getting community feedback for any updated drafts of the proposal before the board takes action with implementing it.  

The plan stretches over the course of five years with a focus on reorganizing schools to better benefit all students.  

If finalized by the end of this fall, the plan details a lot of change for the district which includes, but isn’t limited to:   

  • Grade Configuration: Creating school for K-5 and 6-8 students to offer robust elementary and middle school experiences  
  • Enrollment Zones: Offering choice schools vs. neighborhood schools for families 
  • Facility Upgrades: Renovating buildings to create higher-quality learning environments  
  • School Consolidation and Closures: Reducing the number of small schools and poor facilities  

At an August school board meeting, some parents expressed that they didn’t want to restructure the K-8 model for students. The district says the student experience for both elementary and middle school children is not consistent or equitable where it is now.  

If the plan is approved, reconfiguration would take place during the 2024-25 school year.  

“In our new vision, our district will be divided into four zones, each of them roughly reflecting the district’s diversity by race and income. Your zone might have thirteen schools and you can sign up your child for any one of them. More important you can sign up for an amazing variety of programs,” IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said in a Tuesday night speech.

Johnson says giving all IPS students and families a choice in where they receive their education is one of the key themes and goals of the proposal.  

She also talked about which facilities would be given repairs and upgrades.  

“For too long, we have struggled with buildings that are physically dilapidated. Our buildings need to tell our students something important, intentional, and joyful is happening here,” Johnson said.  

The plan calls for the consolidation of seven schools by the end of the 2022-23 school year.

Francis Bellamy PreK Center and Step Ahead Program, George Buck School 94, Floro Torrence School 83, and Raymond Brandes School 65 would no longer provide classroom instruction, while Francis Park School 56, CFI 2 – Benjamin Harrison facility, and Paul Miller School 114 would close and merge with other schools.  

“I know that this will cause disruption and, as your superintendent, I own that. None of this is easy, but it is what it takes to align resources and values,” Johnson said.

In order to help retain faculty and staff affected by the consolidation, the proposal offers financial compensation, with impacted staff receiving $10,000 by the end of the school year. Impacted principals would receive $12,000.  

Principals experiencing school closures would receive $20,000.  

Specialized teachers, such as special education, math, and science teachers, would receive an $8,000 signing bonus.  

It’s all in an effort to improve the learning experience for students, and Johnson says she wants the district to thrive and believes these plans for the proposal are a step in the right direction for the district’s future.  

Visit the IPS website to view the entire plan.

The district says it will collect additional feedback before finalization.