IPS hopes to turn former high school into community hub

Officials envision a new future for a former Indianapolis high school shuttered since 2018—a hub for social services on the far-east side.

The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners approved a plan Thursday to sell the John Marshall school building to a yet to be determined not-for-profit organization for $725,000 in order to create a neighborhood support center.

Under the terms of the project proposal, the new owner would work with the John Marshall Collaborative, a development group, to repair the building and bring in providers like Ivy Tech Community College, a food bank, and employment support services.

The total estimated cost of the John Marshall Opportunity Hub project ranges from $30 million to $50 million, including $20 million in renovations, remediations and site improvements, according to a presentation to the board.

The district intends to identify a buyer next spring and bring a purchase agreement back to the board in May 2022. In addition to the revenue from the sale, the district expects to save $400,000 in utility and building costs annually.

“Though we know the building is probably worth more, this is going to be a great thing for the community to strive for,” said Commissioner Taria Slack.

The John Marshall building has already lived many lives. It opened first as a high school in 1968, before closing its doors in 1986 due to a drop in population following the Unigov decision that created Marion County’s 11 school districts.

IPS reopened the building in 1993, using it first as a middle school, then a high school, and finally a middle school again before permanently closing the building in 2018 due in part to poor academic performance.

But the far eastside — a neighborhood of around 85,000 residents — continues to have a need for education and job training, as well as food and healthcare, according to the district’s presentation on the project.

The Opportunity Hub concept would have space for 75-100 transitional housing units, as well as a business hub, playground, and community garden. Its initial goals include providing job training for up to 1,500 residents and starting up to 15 businesses.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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4 thoughts on “IPS hopes to turn former high school into community hub

  1. Now that this is no longer a high school, IPS should consider changing the district boundaries and get rid of some of the tentacles that extend so far into the outer townships that make student transportation so difficult.

    1. Indeed. The “John Marshall” area is along the 30th-to-38th corridor east of Shadeland. That just needs to go back to Warren.

      The same is true in the Brendonwood area, where the former Arlington HS is located. That needs to devolve to Lawrence.

      And the former Northwest HS area in Wayne Township.

  2. IPS is extremely mismanaged. The have 20 to 50 buildings and empty lots. These should all be sold and the money used to fund IPS instead of constantly holding out their hand for more funding. Same with the old airport. These empty buildings and lots invite trouble, become sources of metal & electrical wiring and then turn into vagrant hangouts. The fact that IPS plans to abandon Broad Ripple and Northview shows how negligent and incompetent they are. School attendance is falling as the baby boom echo declines, yet they continue to abandon schools and build new facilities. We live in BizzaroWorld. – Steven Pettinga

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