August 28, 2018

IPS School Board To Determine Next Steps For Vacant Schools

file photo

file photo

Tuesday night the Indianapolis Public Schools board heard recommendations on the next steps to determine the future uses of the vacant Broad Ripple and John Marshall high schools.

Joe Gramelspacher, the special projects director for IPS, recommended the approval of two independent market analyses to determine the schools’ financial value. He says they will also take community wishes into account.

“When we find the intersection of community wishes and market possibilities, we will launch an RFI –– or request for information –– to ask developers or other interested parties to come forward with a long-term lease or purchase proposal,” Gramelspacher says.

On Aug. 24, IPS requested nonprofits submit proposals for the vacant schools, which IPS leaders say will help determine a preliminary analysis of possible future uses. IPS will accept proposals through Oct. 11.  

IPS leaders say the school district will not become the landlord of a multi-tenant building or redevelop the properties.

A Chicago-based firm, S.B. Friedman, is recommended to conduct the Broad Ripple High School market analysis, which has been the subject of controversy. Gramelspacher says the regional firm will help maintain objectivity in the report.

In a letter published in the IndyStar, IPS said it will not allow Purdue Polytechnic High School –– a charter school that’s been vocal about wanting to lease Broad Ripple High School –– to decide the value of the vacant building. The letter reads, “IPS owes taxpayers an independent, expert assessment of the property before taking any action.”

Purdue Polytechnic is interested in leasing the building for a second STEM-focused high school. State lawmakers have urged the district to consider allowing Purdue to operate a school in the building.

Last year, before IPS Board voted to close Broad Ripple High School, the district estimated it could sell the northside property for $6 million to $8 million. District leaders now say they are unsure of the true market value.

For John Marshall High School, an Indianapolis nonprofit has already been conducting market research on the vacant property. IPS leaders recommend the district become an official party to the already ongoing process.

The board will vote Thursday to approve or reject the plan to move forward with the market analyses. If approved, the final reports are expected to be completed in January 2019.

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