March 14, 2022

IPS to close Joyce Kilmer School 69, current students get boost in enrollment lottery

In 2016 Kindezi Academy began operating Joyce Kilmer School 69. On Monday, March 14, 2022 the Indianapolis Public Schools Board decided to close the school after Kindezi declined to continue its partnership with the district. - (Indianapolis Public Schools)

In 2016 Kindezi Academy began operating Joyce Kilmer School 69. On Monday, March 14, 2022 the Indianapolis Public Schools Board decided to close the school after Kindezi declined to continue its partnership with the district.

(Indianapolis Public Schools)

Roughly 400 Indianapolis students will need to find a new school for next year after the Indianapolis Public Schools Board unanimously voted to close Joyce Kilmer School 69 this summer. The Monday announcement comes after the school’s charter operator decided not to renew its contract with the district.

This is the second charter school in the IPS district to face closure this year.

The backstory

For the past five years, Joyce Kilmer School 69 has been run by charter school operator Kindezi Academy under the innovation contract status. Kindezi signed a deal with IPS in 2016 to turnaround the northeast side school following consecutive F ratings on the state’s A-F accountability scale.

But Kevin Kubacki, the executive director of the Neighborhood Charter Network that Kindezi is part of, said the school was unable to overcome some challenges. He cited outdated facilities as a barrier in raising students’ academic performance. The COVID-19 pandemic also delayed improvements.

Kubacki has said these and other reasons are why he decided not to renew the contract with the district. IPS proposed a one-year probationary contract.

Kubacki also oversees Enlace Academy, another charter school in IPS. 

What’s next for Kindezi families?

Now current students and about 150 students projected to attend School 69 in the fall, must find a new school.

On Monday, IPS also voted to give Kindezi families an enrollment priority for the current 2022-23 lottery. So far, only about 20 percent of Kindezi families have enrolled at another school for next year.

Jamie VanDeWalle, IPS chief portfolio officer, said district staff and Enroll Indy are reaching out to families to make sure each student is enrolled.

“We definitely have our eye on that number,” VanDeWalle said. “We know that getting families enrolled before the end of that second deadline is the most important thing. So 20 percent isn’t extremely high, but we have a lot of strategies in place.”

Families must rank their top 10 schools and enroll by April 29 in order to reserve a spot for the next school year:

  • Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School 15
  • SUPER School Frederick Douglass School 19
  • William Bell Butler Lab School 60
  • Theodore Potter School 74
  • Ernie Pyle School 90
  • Cold Spring School
  • Any of the four Center For Inquiry schools
  • Any of the three Montessori schools

Families can also choose a nearby neighboring school. Students will receive transportation to any of these schools as long as they don’t move from within the Kindezi neighborhood boundary.

Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at egabriel@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.

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