Broad Ripple High School

FYI: The City Council does not have any formal role in the decisions or processes of IPS. Obviously, each Councillor may choose to advocate for their constituents as they see fit. In my case, I have chosen to do so. The BRVA had taken a position of retaining a school in the BRHS facility months ago, in response to several public meetings the held last fall when IPS announces the impending closure. The BRVA also conducted a comprehensive survey with 574 respondents; 78% of whom preferred a community use that included a school on the BRHA site. The BRVA, as well as their City Councillor (yours truly) are now asking IPS to consider the needs of the community. 

In regards to Washington Township, this was my response to a concerned Facebook commentor: Yes, I represent a large portion of Washington Township. It is my belief from an impact study that a successful school in Broad Ripple will do far more to help Midtown and northern Indianapolis that hurt. It would pull mostly from the IPS district, private schools, and yes-surrounding townships and counties. There is currently no public high school for 52 city blocks (from 34th-Shortridge to 86th-NC), yet there are over 17,000 high school age students who live within a 15 minute drive of BRHS. North Central is always trying to expand to accommodate the increasing demand for their high school. I fully expect Washington Township to continue to be highly successful, while hopefully the IPS district can be strengthened overall, increase their capture rate (which is dismally low; less than 10 student from Broad Ripple attended BRHS, as most went elsewhere and many families chose to leave the district or county all together). I understand your concern but politely disagree with the conclusion. The politics of education is not my concern, but the neighborhoods that provide quality education are thriving. Midtown and many struggling neighborhoods stand to benefit from a successful school option, and that in turn would help my entire district. 

The Indy Star did a wonderful job of reporting the actual circumstances surrounding Broad Ripple High School. Check it out here. 

How can you help? Please consider all three options and SHARE.  

  1. Sign this petition!
  2. Call ALL IPS Board Commissioners 317-226-4000 (option #1 for English, and option #1 again for general concern.)
  3. Email IPS School Board Commissioners here:Michael O’Connor,  President  OConnorMB@myips.orgVenita Moore, Vice President  moorevj@myips.orgElizabeth Gore, Secretary  goree@myips.orgMary Ann Sullivan, At-Large  SullivMA@myips.orgKelly Bentley, District 3  bentleyk@myips.orgDiane Arnold, District 4  arnoldd@myips.orgDorene Hoops, District 5  Hoopsd@myips.org

My official position is below.

To All Concerned:

As both the Executive Director of the Broad Ripple Village Association and District 2’s City-County Councilor, I firmly believe that the future of Broad Ripple High School is paramount to the continuing economic prosperity and community stabilization of Midtown.

When asked directly by IPS, our community spoke with a unified voice in favor of the parcel continuing its use as a school. Anyone familiar with Broad Ripple knows that it is rare for a majority of our citizens to agree on anything, let alone with emphasis and clarity. We are confident that a strong community high school in Broad Ripple will fortify the district to such an extent that it will become a stronger net financial donor to Indianapolis, Marion County, and the state.

This is an incredible opportunity for all stakeholders, and the solution is already before us. Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS) and Herron High School (HHS) have expressed interest in working together in the existing facility to create two non-traditional, complementary models that would transform Broad Ripple and the greater north side of Indianapolis. The proposal the schools submitted to IPS included two different financial arrangements. Both gave IPS market-rate payment for the parcel while allowing IPS to reduce their operating expenses and keep the asset on their balance sheet with options for additional revenue opportunity.

As IPS Innovation Schools, both PPHS and HHS would contribute to IPS’s success, attracting new public school students from surrounding townships and counties. Currently IPS serves only a small percentage of students ages 15-19 in the district. Having two unique school options available in Broad Ripple would greatly increase their capture rate not only in the district, but also from surrounding townships, private schools, and counties. Families would stay in the district rather than flee to the townships or suburbs when fearful of—or rejected by—the lottery system. Going into a referendum, IPS could prove they are a future-facing organization that prioritizes success over optics and collaboration over competition. They could show the public that they are fiscally responsible by realizing financial gain from an existing asset while also meeting the community’s educational needs.

My concern is multi-faceted. Despite this powerful and feasible solution, Broad Ripple High School’s future is on indefinite hold through the referendum election and/or legislative session. The community will not support a private sale with a non-scholastic use. Since rezoning will be required for any non-scholastic use (on even a portion of the parcel), a private sale will be tied up for years while developers navigate the Broad Ripple Village Association and Indianapolis land use processes. In this case those processes will be fraught with hostility. There is no chance of the BRVA supporting such rezoning in the face of contrary community opinion. Since I would support my neighborhood and district by opposing such an effort, I imagine rezoning will fail at the Council level should it make it that far. In the meantime, a 16-acre parcel in walking distance of opioid-rich Ravenswood would sit vacant as a public health and safety liability instead of a community asset.

One could argue that PPHS and HHS should bide their time until they can purchase the school for $1 according to state statute. After all, taxpayers have already paid once for the property and should not be made to pay twice. Developers will be wary of this option, impacting the market value of the parcel. The taxpayers deserve a strong voice in what happens to their public asset, and they have spoken.

The solution happens to be a win for all, and within reach of actualization. Both PPHS and HHS are willing to work with IPS to ensure that the terms of any deal are mutually beneficial and workable for all. Ignoring this opportunity sends the message that the community’s input is of little consequence to a district that will rely heavily on public support in the coming months. It is my duty—in both of my roles—to advocate for the best interest of my neighborhood and district. A successful outcome for the Broad Ripple High School parcel is my priority. I look forward to any cooperative efforts in the immediate future.