February 26, 2019

IPS School Board Takes First Steps Toward New High School Charter Partnership

The school board will also meet Thursday, Feb. 29 to discuss the district's budget, community partnerships and converting George Fisher School 93 from an innovation conversion school into a charter partner.  - Photo by Eric Weddle.

The school board will also meet Thursday, Feb. 29 to discuss the district's budget, community partnerships and converting George Fisher School 93 from an innovation conversion school into a charter partner.

Photo by Eric Weddle.

Updated on Thursday, Feb. 28, 10:30 p.m.

The Indianapolis Public Schools board on Thursday night approved initial terms for a partnership with KIPP Indy Legacy High School, with a vote of 5 to 2. The final vote on whether to partner with the school is scheduled to take place in March.

Commissioners Taria Slack and Elizabeth Gore voted against the initial terms. Gore says after closing a high school in the same neighborhood last year, it doesn't make sense to bring another school under the district's umbrella.

"I will not disrupt our IPS children by closing our schools and bringing new schools in the district," Gore says.

KIPP Indy Legacy High School will open regardless of a partnership with IPS.

Recently-elected commissioner Susan Collins has been a vocal critic of the district's partnership with charter schools, but voted in favor of the initial terms with KIPP Indy. Collins says evidence showing good performance from KIPP's two active schools, and data showing most of KIPP's high school students will come from its own middle school, was convincing.

Original story:

The Indianapolis Public Schools board met Tuesday night to consider a possible partnership with local charter school operator KIPP Indy.

KIPP Indy Legacy High School will open on the city’s north-eastside Martinwood Brightwood neighborhood this fall, and its leaders want to partner it with the district. This would allow KIPP to purchase services from IPS, like food service and transportation, at a reduced cost.

The high school will open whether partnership happens or not – the operator has received authorization from the mayor’s office. If the IPS board approves the partnership it would be its third with KIPP. IPS partnered with KIPP’s elementary school and middle school in 2015.

Commissioner Elizabeth Gore says she’s concerned the partnership will create added competition for IPS schools, especially after the district closed three under-capacity high schools last year.

“We’re all out here competing for those same students,” Gore says. “We closed schools because we didn’t have enough.”

KIPP Executive Director Andy Seibert says this won’t be an issue. Seibert says KIPP data shows that right now, a majority of its eighth graders are leaving the district for private or township schools. And he says early enrollment data shows a large majority of students enrolled at KIPP Indy Legacy High School will come from their own middle school, not IPS.

IPS and KIPP are leaning towards providing transportation for the new high school, but final terms of the agreement are still being discussed. One KIPP Indy eighth grader addressed the school board through tears, asking them to include transportation in its final agreement.

Casey McLeod, school leader at KIPP’s middle school, also emphasized the importance of transportation for the network.

“Core to our partnership is our belief in equity,” McLeod says. “Both equity in terms of resources and in terms of access. Particularly with regard to transportation access for our students.”

When partnering with charter schools, IPS can include these schools in its final district-wide accountability score from the state, and keep more students within the IPS district.

The IPS board plans to vote next month on whether to partner with KIPP Indy Legacy High School.

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