Indy charter school gets gift valued at about $2M

A central Indiana businessman and his wife have donated a gift valued as high as $2 million to an Indianapolis charter high school.

Steve Russell, of Carmel, founder of Indianapolis-based trucking company Celadon Group Inc., and his wife, Livia, gave the gift to Herron High School. It will go toward a $5.3 million capital campaign to renovate buildings on its campus, which formerly housed the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.

The size of the gift wasn't disclosed, but The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday the high school's main building will be named for the couple. The naming right was priced at $2 million.

"What made me have success in life was education," Russell said.

Herron, a college preparatory school focused on classical liberal arts, opened in 2006 and currently serves 700 students.

Its buildings need upgrades, though, with cracks in its terrazzo floors, plumbing issues that forced the school to close early one day last week and walls too thick for wireless Internet.

"Right now, a lot of our money is going toward maintenance of these buildings, and we want it to be going into classrooms," said Joanna Taft, Herron's board president.

Public charter schools don't receive tax dollars for capital project funds to build or renovate buildings, said Kevin Davis, interim president of the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association.

Davis praised Herron's success in achieving a nearly 95-percent graduation rate.

"It's a real shining example of how a local charter school can grow," he said.

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