Purdue Polytechnic HS looks to future expansion

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based Purdue Polytechnic High School says it’s vetting other Indiana communities to potentially place one of its STEM-focused schools. But for now, Head of School Scott Bess says South Bend is the only community where the charter school intends to expand in 2020.

“There are other communities around the state who have reached out and said, ‘Hey, we would really love to have one,’” said Bess.

How many campuses will PPHS develop? Bess says certainly more than one, but probably not more than five or six around the state.

“As we look around the state, there’s various places where it would make sense, but you know, there’s always times and places where it’s not the right place, it’s not the right time. But In other cases, it is the right place, right time and let’s look at, you know, 2021 or 2022,” said Bess.

Purdue Polytechnic HS recently announced its plans to open its third campus, and the first outside of Marion county, now that the Indiana Charter School Board has approved the project.

Bess says it intends to open the new school in South Bend in the fall of 2020.

The Purdue Polytechnic High School Network has two current facilities; one in downtown Indianapolis at Circle Centre Mall and the other in Broad Ripple.

PPHS says it will work in conjunction with the South Bend Community School Corporation to create this unique educational opportunity.

“The… model is set up to encourage students to be passionate, self-directed learners with the grit and determination to see them through to a rigorous post-secondary education, or a challenging, sustainable career,” said Scott Bess, head of PPHS.

With a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math, PPHS says its model gives students the tools and knowledge they need to success in a 21st century economy.

South Bend educators are welcoming the opportunity.

“A collaboration with Purdue Polytechnic High School would not only offer an additional means to earn college credits while in high school, but it also would provide guaranteed admission to the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University for students who enroll in the program — a tremendous incentive for students,” said Todd Cummins, superintendent of the South Bend Community School Corp.

Students who get selected through a lottery system will benefit from internships, industry projects, dual credit courses and technical certifications, according to the school.

The school intends to enroll 125 students in its freshman class next school year. The location of PPHS South Bend has not been announced.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Purdue Polytechnic High School’s Scott Bess explains what he looks for in a student and a community.