The Martindale-Brightwood community has a university, but not a high school. Not yet, anyway. When the 2019-20 school year comes around, students in an economically disadvantaged area of the city will have a community high school of their own.
KIPP Indy Public Schools, part of a national charter network with more than 200 schools across the country, is opening KIPP Indy Legacy High. The high school will serve only ninth graders in its first year and then add a freshman class each year until the school is at capacity. KIPP already has an elementary and middle school housed in the same building in Martindale-Brightwood.
The school still has “a few” open spots, according to School Leader David Spencer, who said having a high school in Martindale-Brightwood will offer a much needed advantage for students who wouldn’t otherwise have a local option for education.
“It’s fulfilling that promise,” Spencer said, “that every student who walks through this door is getting a top-notch, high quality education that is going to open up doors to whatever they want in their future.”
Futures seem bleak right now in Martindale-Brightwood. According to Indy Vitals, which measures demographic data at the neighborhood level, Martindale-Brightwood’s poverty rate in 2017 was 37.3%, nearly 24 points higher than the whole metropolitan area. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated only 40.5% of those 25 and older were high school graduates (or equivalent) in 2017.
KIPP Indy Legacy High has the distinction of being the only Innovation Network School added to Indianapolis Public Schools for next school year. As an innovation school, the high school can purchase services such as transportation from the district. Charter schools receive only state funding, while districts receive state and local funding. As part of the deal with its innovation partners, IPS then gets to count those schools’ enrollment and performance toward the district total.
Spencer said he isn’t caught up in the debate over innovation schools, but he added being able to purchase transportation from the district could make it easier for families trying to decide where their children should go to school and how they’ll get there.
Barato Britt, a KIPP Indy Public Schools board member, said adding a high school to the neighborhood will hopefully lead to students staying in the KIPP network once they leave middle school.
“Too much of our talent in Martinadale-Brightwood was being transported to schools way outside the neighborhood,” he said. “… We believed it was critical to provide young people an opportunity to stay in the community.”
Like other charter networks, KIPP Indy Public Schools must have open enrollment.
One feature the school’s leaders will try to sell to prospective students and families is that its campus is next to the new Leadership and Legacy Academy at Edna Martin Christian Center. (Britt is also the executive director of the academy.)
Spencer said the two organizations’ missions align, so students will be involved with the academy. That includes after-school activities and working with pre-K children and seniors.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-766-1406. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
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