Indianapolis Public Schools recently unveiled the recommendations for the New High School Experience to start in the 2018-19 school year. The Administration is recommending the district move forward with four high schools. Those high schools will have a new look and feel that includes all current choice and magnet programs, as well as expanded programming—including our career-themed academies and innovation network high schools.

Career-themed academies will create more college and career pathways to help students graduate on time and get enrolled in a two-or four-year college or university, employed at a livable wage or enlisted in the armed forces. Students will now have 100 percent choice when deciding which high schools they want to attend.

The administration came to the conclusion after considering the IPS Facilities Utilization Taskforce Report which revealed the district’s high schools are projected to be only 37% occupied in the 2017-18 school year. The district is spending more than $6 million annually just on utilities and maintenance. This severely impacts academic opportunities for students and the district’s efforts to utilize resources more efficiently. By right-sizing the district’s high school buildings, IPS could save $4 million annually to reinvest into the classroom to expand services for students and provide greater support for teachers. The Administration also carefully considered and reviewed extensive feedback shared by more than 3,500 community members, students and staff through a series of five community meetings and 16 engagement sessions at each of the district’s high schools.

With excellent high school options, IPS will play a critical role in keeping families in the district and drawing new families in, strengthening Indianapolis’ tax base and boosting overall city amenities.

Upcoming Board Meetings

Date Meeting Type Location Public Comment Sign Up
July 18, 2017 Agenda Review Session Broad Ripple High School
1115 Broad Ripple Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Comments Closed
July 20, 2017 Action Session John Marshall Middle School
10101 E. 38th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46235
July 20 Public Comment
August 29, 2017 Agenda Review Session Arlington Community High School
4825 N. Arlington Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46226
Opens August 21, 2017
August 31, 2017 Action Session Northwest Community High School
5525 W. 34th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46224
Opens August 21, 2017

Reinventing the High School Experience

Reinventar la experiencia de la escuela secundaria

Timeline for Potential School Closures

  • September 2016

    The Facilities Utilization Taskforce was created with IPS employees and local experts to review demographic trends, current building utilization, operational expenses, historical data, cost of academic programs, etc. 

  • April 2017

    Taskforce recommends IPS operate four high schools starting with SY 2018–19.

  • April/May 2017

    Board of School Commissioners holds five public neighborhood meetings to gather input, concern, feedback and ideas.

  • June 29 2017

    Administration uses the Taskforce report in conjunction with community feedback, academic programming and several other data and criteria to recommend: Which buildings to close; A reuse plan for those buildings; Academic programming for schools remaining open. 

  • July/August 2017

    Board of School Commissioners holds their regularly scheduled meetings at each high school recommended for closure to gather more public comment.

  • September 2017

    Board of School Commissioners votes on: Which buildings to close; A reuse plan for those buildings; Academic programming for schools remaining open.

  • Fall 2018–19

    Schools (and potentially other buildings) close.

Career-Themed Academies

The appropriateness of a high school to host multiple Academies is of critical importance for the future of IPS. The IPS Strategic Plan dictates that 100% of graduating students should be Enrolled in a 2- or 4- year institution, Enlisted in the military or Employed at a livable wage at graduation. To ensure the success of every student, the Administration is implementing Career-Themed Academies in schools throughout the district, and every high school must have appropriate space and amenities to host the needed Academies.

The IPS Administration has been working with business, university and other partners to establish high school Career-Themed Academies in each of the high schools to remain open in 2018-19. These partners are from sectors that have been identified as high-growth sectors — meaning these sectors will be in need of skilled employees over the next several years. The Academies are intended to complement these sectors and the expected employment need by giving IPS students the needed skills, network and internship opportunities with these partners to fill positions in these sectors in the future.

IPS envisions a network of high schools, each with multiple Academies and corresponding pathways that give opportunities for all students to take college and career-aligned course work. As the district moves toward implementation of the Academies, the Administration is developing a plan to reimagine the space in which 21st-century college and career-aligned learning takes place. 

There has also been concern about whether the current choice options will be eliminated due to the proposed Career-Themed Academies. IPS will offer our current choice-options alongside these academies.

Please reference the June School Board Presentation: English/Spanish for a listing of proposed locations for these academies and choice programs.

Types of Academies

College and Career Counseling

IPS is committed to an all-choice model to give every student the skills to be Enrolled, Enlisted, or Employed at the time student graduates.

Indianapolis Public Schools is redesigning its entire high school model around Career-Themed Academies focused on preparing students for college and career. By 2020, we expect every high school student in IPS – approximately 5,000 young people – to have either chosen a career pathway in the case of juniors and seniors, be actively engaged in researching the best-fit pathway in the case of our younger high schoolers, or be enrolled in one of IPS’ existing, high-performing choice programs.

Middle school Grades 7 and 8 will provide a supportive environment that helps students navigate their intellectual, social and emotional development. Key components are interdisciplinary teaming, varied instruction, exploratory programs and transition programs. As students transition from elementary to high school, their learning will take place in small learning communities or interdisciplinary teams.

Through this new vision for high school in IPS, our goal is to ensure every graduate is successfully Enrolled in college or career training, Enlisted in the military, or Employed at a livable wage. 

Special Education

All IPS students with disabilities will continue to be served in their least-restrictive environment aligned to each student’s Individualized Education Plan or 504 Plan.

In addition, IPS will also maintain the district practice of ensuring students are as close to the student’s home as possible when in self-contained Special Education classrooms such as Life Skills, and some students may have shorter transportation times due to adjustments made through consolidation of programs now spread throughout the district.

IPS will maintain all Special Education services at the remaining high schools and will explore options for enhancements as well. For instance, Special Education staff such as speech-language pathologists and Life Skills job coaches will spend more time at a given high school instead of travelling to serve multiple high schools in our current state.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

The purpose of the ESL program is to create equitable opportunities for English Learners (ELs) to participate fully in their educational experience within our schools and in their social lives in our community.

To accomplish this goal, ELs engage in all domains of language acquisition (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in a variety of meaningful and authentic contexts to attain proficiency in academic and social English. 

These are opportunities to be offered to our ESL students:

  • Field experiences to local universities.
  • After-school clubs.
  • Additional English language acquisition support.
  • College and career readiness planning.
  • After-school parent and student workshops.
  • District leadership role (ambassadors).


Driven in part by previous experiences with busing and other school consolidations, several community stakeholders had concerns about the potential negative impact on the culture of a school and safety issues that can arise from collocating students from different neighborhoods.We believe there are several differences now than during previous collocation attempts that should lead to safer implementation of these recommendations.

The first is that the district will be operating high schools under an all-choice Academy model. This allows students to choose the high school and program they want to attend based on their interests and skills. Further, it is highly unlikely that all students from a neighborhood will choose the same school and same program. This approach is likely to diffuse neighborhood tensions — unlike historic efforts, which were based on geography.

Second, by creating savings from right-sizing facilities, the district will have additional resources to invest in the quality of life of the school — including staffing resources to have more coverage of a building and implementing successful programs, such as Peace Learning Center, to help students learn to work together. Student safety also will improve as the empty wings of underutilized high schools are filled and greater supervision of all facilities is possible.


The high school all-choice model will remove student mobility at the high school level, as all students will be transported to the school of their choice, regardless of their home address. IPS pledges to work closely with students and families to make transportation fully accessible and to alleviate any other logistical challenges for students to attend the high school of their choice.

Also by studying transportation models and options from successful national all-choice districts we hope to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Improve daily service to and from school
  2. Reduce students’ time on the bus
  3. Provide additional opportunities for extracurricular activities
  4. Better serve our high-mobility students to ensure no impact to any student’s education

Transition Team

A district transition team consisting of representatives from: Special Education, School Counseling, Social

Work, English as a Second Language, Parent Involvement, Athletics, and Public Relations will be created to

provide guidance and direction from multiple areas. The district transition team will also support transition

teams at each school.

School transition teams will provide support to the students and the parents at their school. Parent and community advisory groups will support the district and school-level transition teams.

District Transition Team:
Deputy Superintendent for Academics, Chief Strategist, IPS Police, District Athletic Director, Parent Involvement Coordinator, Special Education Officer, English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator, Student Services Officer, and Student Services Director 

School Transition Team:

Principal, Athletic Director, Parent Involvement Educator, representatives from Special Education, ESL and Counseling Departments, School Social Worker, students and parents

District Teacher Advisory:
Building level Teacher of the Year winners and Superintendent’s Advisory Council members

District Student Advisory:
Student representatives from each school’s Transition Team and Superintendent's Student Advisory Council members

District Parent Advisory:
Parent representatives from each school’s Transition Team

Stakeholder Engagement

Community Meetings

Thank you for joining us at our community meetings series as we discussed potential high school closings for the 2018-2019 school year. If you were unable to join us, please review our Community Meeting Summary for detailed information on all five meetings.

* Table Talk Packet: English/Spanish
* Flowchart: English/Spanish
* Facilities Task Force Presentation
* Facility Utilization Taskforce Report

Student and Staff Engagement Sessions

IPS recently held student panel discussions and staff meetings at each high school in an effort to gather their thoughts and suggestions.

Please check out the Student & Staff Engagement Summary for these meetings.

Stakeholder Engagement Showcase 

In the News

Preserving School Legacy

IPS cherishes our rich history and understands the link this history plays in the community and the effect it has on our alumni's identity. To ensure nothing gets lost in this transition, IPS will assemble a District Community & Legacy Preservation Advisory Committee. This committee will be comprised of community representatives from school neighborhoods and past alumni willing to donate their time.