All over Broad Ripple village, signs created on printer paper were pinned on street posts. “Save Broad Ripple high school,” they read, echoing the cry of the several BR high school members who came into the community forum.
When I arrived to the Broad Ripple high school auditorium, five minutes before 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening, I was surprised to find I was late compared to several individuals. The room was filled with people; some dressed for the chance to approach a microphone, and others representing Rocket colors.
The IPS school board of commissioners were all present, sitting single file on stage. The public comments had begun long before I arrived and the people of the community continued to trickle in.
The board made no direct comments regarding the official proposal to close Broad Ripple high school, which was announced at the end of June on the 28 through the IPS website.
“Good commentary tonight,” suggested superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee. “I appreciate the parent who asked the tough questions about the transition. Those are questions that we need to keep thinking about and we need to invite parents to be apart of that. Ultimately our success with this new model will hinge on our ability to do that very well.”
Attendees were either aggressive in their desires for the high school to remain the way it currently is, or compliant to allow the building to shift goals. Each person of the community who approached the front spoke with intensive forward motion. The board remained respectively responsive, but relatively motionless through each emotional stance.
Hurt and impact were the common theme of pain expressed from distressed members of the Broad Ripple community. The crowd was rowdy, frustrated and verbally annoyed with the board and any answer that they presented.
After a technical error kept one woman from presenting when she had signed up, the board decided to allow walk-in’s to approach the front for 30 minutes of commentary.
“The person that came forth and pushed us to provide public comment for people that hadn’t signed up. I think the students are always great to hear from, how can you not appreciate comments from students?” commented Ferebee.
Many people believe that the decision of the school board was unwise due to the size of Broad Ripple versus the rest of the schools. Others expressed legacy concerns, stating names of individuals from the high school whose history might otherwise be lost with the closing.
“Preserving legacy and history is great but you have to shift the focus to the students that are with us to and that will be with us tomorrow,” said Ferebee. “Operating the number of high schools we have today, and not expanding the amount of offerings we have is just not the best for the students.”
"I can assure you that we listening to what you have to say, and that it will have impact on what we do." Said Mary Ann Sullivan, the school board elected president from the stage.
Then the board moved upstairs inside of the Broad Ripple library to discuss textbook rental prices and community impacts. The next IPS action session will occur on July 20, at John Marshall, followed with a board retreat at Arsenal Tech on Saturday.