Future of Schools

Which high schools are going to close in Indianapolis? Here’s the timeline

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

More than six months after Indianapolis Public Schools officials held a series of painful meetings at high schools facing reconfiguration, the school board approved plans to decide which high schools to close and when.

IPS expects to have more than twice as many seats as high school students by next fall, which is exacerbating the cash-strapped district’s financial woes. Over the next six months, district leaders will outline how many high schools they believe should remain open and choose which schools to close.

(Read: Indianapolis Public Schools is closing high schools. Here are the biggest questions facing district leaders.)

Here are the most important dates:

(Read the full timeline here.)

April 18, 2017

Community members will get the first hint of what the new high school landscape could look like when the facilities task force recommends how many high schools to keep open. But the board will have the  final say, so the number of schools could change.

May 2017

The school board will host community meetings at four sites around the district.

June 2017

The administration will recommend what high schools to close, what academic programs to offer at schools that remain open and what to do with empty buildings.

July and Aug. 2017

The district will host community meetings at the schools it plans to close.

Sept. 19, 2017

The school board votes on what schools to close and what programs to offer at the remaining high schools.

priority exit

Four Memphis schools improve enough to exit ‘priority’ list, including one in Achievement School District

PHOTO: Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary staff celebrate test score results in 2015. The state-run school is now one of four to exit the state's priority list.

Four schools improved enough to exit Tennessee’s list of lowest-performing schools, the state announced Friday, and they’re all located in Memphis.

The schools, including one within the state-run Achievement School District, are:

  • Mitchell High, Shelby County Schools;
  • Treadwell Elementary, Shelby County Schools;
  • Northwest Prep Academy, Shelby County Schools;
  • Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary School, Achievement School District.

The moves are significant, as only 16 percent of “priority” schools have moved off of the state’s 2012 and 2014 lists.

This is only the second time an ASD school has left the priority list, said Bobby White, the turnaround district’s executive director of external affairs. He said that Brick Church College Prep, located in Nashville, exited the list previously. The ASD was created in 2012 to bolster the state’s lowest-performing schools and now oversees 32 schools in Nashville and Memphis.

The state’s priority list is released every three years and includes the bottom 5 percent of schools, which could see state intervention. Memphis has historically contained a significant portion of schools on the state’s list of priority schools.

The Department of Education has postponed the release of this year’s full list to next summer. On Friday, it released several smaller lists, including schools eligible to leave and schools that are close.

Seven schools were named “priority improving” schools by the state, meaning they did well, but not quite well enough to exit the list:

  • Westwood High School, Shelby County Schools
  • A. Maceo Walker Middle, Shelby County Schools
  • Sherwood Middle, Shelby County Schools
  • Lucie E. Campbell Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Lester Prep, Achievement School District
  • John B. Whitsitt Elementary, Davidson County
  • Inglewood Elementary, Davidson County

The state also oversees more than 200 “focus schools,” which are schools struggling to close achievement gaps based on race, poverty, disabilities and language.  Fifteen schools exited the focus school list, the state said Friday, and another 20 made significant improvements. See the full list on the state’s website.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more context around the ASD’s exit. 

REWARD SCHOOLS

Thirteen Memphis schools among 169 honored by state for academics, growth

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede
Students attend class at Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, one of the Memphis schools honored this year as a reward school.

Thirteen schools in Tennessee’s largest district were among 169 honored on Friday as the state released its first list of “reward” schools since 2015.

The Department of Education annually releases its reward list, which comprises the state’s top 5 percent of schools for academic achievement and the top 5 percent for annual growth.

Here are the 13 from Shelby County Schools, including four charter schools authorized by the district:  

  • Maxine Smith STEAM Academy
  • Germantown High
  • Egypt Elementary
  • Hamilton Elementary
  • Newberry Elementary
  • Oakhaven Middle
  • Whitehaven High
  • Westhaven Elementary
  • Memphis Academy Of Science Engineering Middle/High
  • Freedom Preparatory Academy
  • Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School
  • Memphis Rise Academy
  • Middle College High

See all 169 schools honored here.

“These schools represent what is possible for students in Tennessee as they exemplify excellence in performance or progress and in some cases, both,” Commissioner Candice McQueen said in a release. “We want to replicate this success across the state and continue to celebrate the hard work of our educators and students happening in classrooms every day.”

Shelby County Schools joined more than 60 districts to earn the distinction. Three of Shelby County’s six municipal school districts were included as well: Arlington, Bartlett and Collierville.

This is the first list of state reward schools since 2015, when 170 schools were recognized. A 2016 list wasn’t created due to a lack of state test score results after some exams were canceled amid technical difficulties.

Editor’s notes: A previous version of the story mistakenly left Middle College High off of the list of Shelby County schools honored.