Located on the edge of Indianapolis Public Schools, Northwest High School serves one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. This could be the campus’ last year as a high school, but it would continue to educate neighborhood children under a proposal from the administration.
The school is one of two campuses Superintendent Lewis Ferebee has recommended converting to a middle school as part of a high school reconfiguration plan. It also calls for closing a high school and a middle school. The newcomer program, which serves students who are just beginning to learn English, would also move to the Northwest building.
That would be a good fit for some families in the Lafayette Square area, which is a hub for refugees and immigrants from around the world. In the school’s ZIP code area, 35 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home, according to census data. That diversity is present in Northwest, and last year, nearly a quarter of the school’s students were English language learners.
The board will meet to discuss the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Northwest, which will begin with 90 minutes for public comment. The deadline to sign up online to speak is noon Thursday. It is the fourth and final meeting at a high school scheduled for closure.
Critics of the administration’s plan for closing high schools encouraged parents to oppose the move at a meeting at Northwest last week. As district leaders consider the proposal, there are reasons to close the school — and to keep it open.
Here are some reasons to keep Northwest open:
- The school has a climbing graduation rate. Over the last two years, it has risen from 62 percent to 75 percent, higher than a few of the district’s other high schools.
- Northwest is on the edge of the district, and if it closes, students who face long bus rides to other IPS high schools may choose to go to township or charter schools instead.
- It serves a community with an unusually high poverty rate — 32 percent — and it is likely that many families don’t have cars, making it difficult for them to get involved at a high school across town.
Here are some reasons Northwest is facing closure:
- Northwest has struggled academically. Although it is not overseen by the state, after persistent low grades it is part of the state-funded transformation zone, which aims to improve struggling schools with an influx of coaching and other resources.
- The likeliest reason the administration recommended closing the high school is its location. Because the administration plan is an all magnet model, where students choose schools based on focus area rather than neighborhood, the district chose to keep all four high schools near the city center. Northwest would be a long commute for students from other areas of the district.