Ferebee responds to Arlington High School cost concern

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Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee responded Thursday to concern over operation costs at Arlington High School for the upcoming school year.

At Wednesday's Indiana State Board of Education meeting, Ed Power, the organization running Arlington High School, one of the IPS schools taken over by the state, said they could no longer afford to do so. They proposed partnering with IPS this coming school year and then having IPS take over completely for the 2015-16 school year, and asked for more money to help pay for running the school this year.

"There was no reason to anticipate that the conversation about the best way to ensure a successful 2014-2015 school year for Arlington students would unfold in the way that it did. Above all, IPS is committed to serving all members of our community in a way that makes our students and families proud," Ferebee said in a statement released Thursday.

The Board said they were surprised by Ed Power's announcement they couldn't afford to continue running the school. The Board denied Ed Power's request for more money and asked for a plan to have Arlington open and ready for students next month, but authorized Ed Power, IPS, Mayor Greg Ballard and the Department of Education to begin immediately working on a transition plan to keep Arlington open.

"IPS leaders continue to examine our use of resources district-wide, and we're proud to say we're making environmental and financial progress. Unfortunately, Tindley has been unable to maximize the use of Arlington's facilities, which has placed efforts to operate the building in a tough financial spot. We had hoped that a resolution between external entities might prevent us approaching the brink of students' return to school," Ferebee said.

He added, "It's important to understand this isn't a dispute between IPS and Tindley or any other entity - we're all trying to solve the problem of an unfortunate funding gap. Tindley can't afford to keep Arlington running, and IPS is unable to provide the financial resources to close the financial gap associated with operating the building under the current model. We are definitely willing to - and have offered to - provide cost-neutral services to assist Tindley moving forward, but we would not be in a financial position to assist beyond that. We will not sacrifice any resources that would jeopardize services and support for current IPS students."

Ferebee says he's working on determining how services will be provided for Arlington HS students enrolled for the upcoming school year.

"If the unfortunate event of Arlington's closing were to occur, IPS would immediately begin the work of restoring the school's presence in the neighborhood. We are committed to finding the best possible way to handle a potentially tense transition. We're proud of our schools, our students, and our families; they deserve our support in an uncertain future," he said.

Ferebee added: "This situation points out some of the holes in Indiana's school reform. Once we resolve what happens at Arlington, there's still more discussion that needs to take place about this model. We have many more students attending takeover schools, and a plan for long-term implementation and transition must be determined."