Broad Ripple High School Advocacy

Overview

Broad Ripple High School (BRHS) closed in May 2018.  When the facility was closed, it housed approximately 500 students with a capacity for 2400 students.  Less than 20 students lived in the Midtown area.

Indianapolis Public Schools has indicated it is reluctant to sell the High School for fear that a charter school will attempt to take the building for $1 through the Indiana State “Dollar Law“.  IPS has attempted to change this law each year at the State Legislature for the past several years (including 2022) with no success.  Currently there is no movement on the property and it sits virtually empty with a few IPS personnel in the facility while incurring significant maintenance costs.  Also, no charter school has come forward attempting to take the facility and challenging the situation since the school is technically closed.

Latest Public Meeting: 2019

IPS hosted a public meeting at the Indianapolis Art Center on March 26, 2019. They revealed the results of a Market Analysis conducted in Fall 2018 by SB Friedman out of Chicago.  The presentation encouraged the development of apartments on the property and the complete removal of the existing buildings.  The existing apartment numbers they used were inaccurate (300 apartments too low).  During the meeting, the community was invited to give feedback in small groups after the formal presentation by SB Friedman.

After dozens of conversations with our membership and a wide variety of Broad Ripple stakeholders, we believe that the public feedback was again consistent with the findings of our 2017 public survey (which was shared with IPS in 2017). The results of our survey can also be found in a link to the right. Generally, citizens felt that apartments and retail were not appropriate or desirable primary uses. Rather, they felt as though scholastic and community uses should continue to be the primary use of the significant parcel. Additionally, there was widespread acknowledgement for the need for additional office space to support daytime businesses. There was also strong interest in seeing the newer auditorium and gymnasium saved for public use.

The BRVA wishes IPS to simply sell the parcel and not dictate the future use of the parcel.  We are unclear as to why a school district is spending scarce school resources (and taxpayer funds) conducting market studies to determine future uses of a property they wish to sell.  We would also like to see reuse of the auditorium and gymnasium if possible.

HELPFUL LINKS

BRVA Community survey report

Background

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 had approximately 500 students when it closed in May of 2018, with a capacity of 2,400 students.

BRVA Statement (2017)

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. A neighborhood school 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 a school on this parcel as a hub for education, art and community. 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. Maintaining a high school in Broad Ripple creates a diverse mix of educational, business and entertainment offerings throughout the village.

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.

BRVA Advocacy

The BRVA initially worked with IPS regarding the future of the facility, yet IPS stopped engaging the BRVA in 2018.  It is unknown when IPS will move forward again on BRHS. The BRVA remains ready to work with IPS in the future use of the parcel.

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 to close BRHS was disappointing for Broad Ripple, we continue to view this as an opportunity for community involvement in shaping 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 most benefit the Village and its families into the future.

In other news, the BRVA worked closely with Purdue Polytechnic High School and we welcomed them to Broad Ripple in 2019.  They are currently at 1405 Broad Ripple Avenue and are now in the process of building a new school located at 62nd and College.

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