Broad Ripple High School Advocacy
Herron and Purdue Polytechnic High Schools have attempted to negotiate a joint deal with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to lease the Broad Ripple High School facility. They offered a lucrative financial deal with millions of dollars upfront and a long-term lease. Read more about the proposal in the Indy Star article HERE.
The BRVA believes Herron and Purdue Polytechnic would be ideal high school choices for families in our community. A strong high school option, or in this case two options, is extremely important to the future of Broad Ripple Village and the stability of Midtown. There are currently 17,141 high school students within a 15-minute drive of Broad Ripple High School.
On September 18, 2017, the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board officially voted to close and sell the Broad Ripple High School (BRHS) facility and property and move the magnet for the arts to Shortridge High School. While it is disappointing, we understand the decision. This is what the IPS board feels it needs to do to best serve its district.
Previously on June 28, 2017, IPS had announced the results of a study that recommended the closing of three local high schools, including Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities. Prior to that announcement an IPS Task Force spent many months analyzing the dilemma of declining enrollment of IPS high schools. IPS current total enrollment is 5,352 students, while the seven area high schools have the capacity of 14,450 students. Broad Ripple Magnet High School currently has 585 students and can hold 2,400 students.
While the Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) understands the IPS recommendation to close BRHS, we believe that as the district and its board evaluate options for future use of the school property, it is essential that the facility continues to be used for public education purposes.
Here are three reasons to keep in mind as this process moves forward.
Broad Ripple possesses a long-standing tradition of neighborhood schools, and it is imperative for area residents to have public school options for their children.
Broad Ripple High School was first established in 1886 and became IPS’ fourth high school in 1923. It has provided a sense of identity and community for more than 130 years. A number of Broad Ripple High School alumni have stayed in or returned to the village to shape the community and grow its businesses.
Former Indiana Pacer and Broad Ripple High School alumnus George Hill sent a Tweet immediately after the closing was announced asking for investors to help bring the school back. Hill and other alumni consistently mention their deep connection to the Broad Ripple community stemming from their time in school. Such bonds provide the roots for a community’s continued growth.
Maintaining a high school within village boundaries will increase resident retention and raise the profile of Broad Ripple among potential new residents moving to the Indianapolis area.
Yes, boutiques and coffee shops are wonderful amenities, but schools are often the primary decision factor for families choosing a home or neighborhood. Given the desirable location of the facility, surrounded by several amazing arts and cultural organizations, the opportunities for unique collaboration are endless.
Broad Ripple is certainly one of Indianapolis’ best community success stories. For more than a century, the neighborhood has thrived while constantly evolving to best serve the needs of residents. However, without a viable, neighborhood-based high school, Broad Ripple’s long-lasting community development and sustainability are unachievable.
The school building is an essential part of Broad Ripple’s infrastructure and must serve as a hub for learning and community growth.
It is particularly important to preserve this facility as a hub for education, art and community. Such uses are not profit-bearing ventures and speak to the character and true essence of Broad Ripple. Throughout its 130-year existence, Broad Ripple High School has opened its doors to the community and invited it in for special events, performances, sporting events and community gathering.
If the building is sold to a private developer, no such facility will be built in its place to ensure these important community activities have a continued home. Maintaining a high school in Broad Ripple creates a diverse mix of educational, business and entertainment offerings throughout the village.
Finally, the BRVA believes strongly in community input and involvement throughout this process. We’ve heard others call for a community task force to be formed and are very supportive of that idea. Open communication and meaningful collaboration will lead to the best solution for all involved.
The BRVA communicated our position at the IPS board of school commissioners meeting, which was held at Broad Ripple Magnet High School on Tuesday, July 18, 2017.
The BRVA has been working with IPS regarding the future of the facility. It is unknown when IPS will move forward.
The Broad Ripple Village Association strongly believes that the community should be able to shape the facility’s reuse. An Open House for Broad Ripple residents was held on Thursday, August 24, 2017 which gathered initial community input. In addition, an online survey was available to the community August 29-September 12. A copy of survey results may be viewed here: BRHS Survey Report.
A Community Opportunity
Although the IPS decision is disappointing for our Village, we view this as an opportunity for community involvement to shape the future of the Broad Ripple High School site. We believe the community has the power to advocate for a reuse of the site that will benefit the Village and its families into the future.