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Little used law allows charter network to take over vacant Indianapolis elementary school for $1

Tindley schools is considering joining the Indianapolis Public Schools innovation network.
Tindley schools is considering joining the Indianapolis Public Schools innovation network.
Alan Petersime

The Tindley Accelerated Schools charter school network is poised to take over a vacant Indianapolis Public Schools elementary school. The price? $1.

This fall, Tindley Summit Academy will move to the vacant IPS School 98 campus at 3628 Dubarry Road. The building is available for any charter to claim for $1 under a rarely used state law.

Tindley filed paperwork with the state affirming its intent to take over the building in January, and it announced plans to move to the building last month. Under state law, charter schools can lease or purchase school buildings that are vacant for several years.

If the plan goes forward, it appears it would be only the second time that a school was purchased under the law since it was created in 2011. An official for the Indiana Department of Education said that some records are missing, but the only building that has actually been purchased or leased was School 11, another IPS building that was taken over by KIPP Indy, which moved there for a few years before returning to its current campus in 2014.

School 98, the only vacant school building available in Indianapolis, attracted a fair amount of attention from charter schools. Two other schools, the Mind Program High School and Circle City Preparatory, both filed intent to claim forms with the state. But the schools appear to have abandoned efforts to take over the building.

School 98 housed an IPS elementary school until 2009, when the district closed the school to cut costs amid declining enrollment. Tindley Summit, which enrolls 304 students, opened in 2014. It’s current campus is about a mile from the new location.

Tindley CEO Kelli Marshall said in a statement that the school is moving because the new location has more space.

“We’re excited about the opportunity this move provides,” she said. “After experiencing record enrollment this year, our new location will enable us to grow.”

Clarification (May 12, 2017): This story has been updated to include the address for School 98.

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