IPS could sell historic building to city for project

IPS school board’s resources committee met Wednesday.

A company could bring a “significant” number of new jobs to the city if the Indianapolis Public School Board agrees to sell a historic property it owns on Southeastern Avenue.

That’s what Deputy Mayor Deron Kintner told the board’s resources committee Wednesday. He said he could not name the company but described it having a “presence” in Indianapolis currently.

“This will lead to a lot of jobs and property taxes,” he said. “I wish I could tell you more but that’s all I can discuss now.”

The site is near the historic “Mallory Complex” area on the East side. The company would like the city to acquire a district-owned building at 1316 Southeastern Ave., which currently warehouses furniture and supplies for schools. It would then buy the building from the city.

Board members were generally supportive of working toward a sale.

“It’s an opportunity for IPS to become more efficient,” said board member Sam Odle, who chairs the resources committee. “A lot of companies have become very efficient at getting out of the warehouse business.”

In 2012, the Indianapolis Business Journal wrote about efforts by the non-profit Southeast Neighborhood Development to redevelop the neighboring “Mallory” site, including placing some of the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Journal reported that the area once included baseball fields and that the Indianapolis Indians baseball team originally played there. An amusement park called Wonderland burned down in 1911, the Journal reported.

Board member Gayle Cosby said her grandmother worked at the Mallory Complex, but not in the IPS-owned building, and used to tell her stories about it. She said the district would research the historic significance of its buildings and examine the company’s plan for it.

“I definitely want to learn more,” she said. “We always vet these things through the community and we’re always open to discussion.”

Kintner said the company wanted to know by the end of the year if IPS was willing to sell and noted that it is mostly interested in a four-story building on the site that faces Washington and Gray streets. The company, he said, was willing to discuss sharing space, at least initially, as IPS’ warehouse is on the other side of the property. Ultimately, there would be “substantial construction” at the property, Kintner said.

The board’s cooperation, he said, was critical to Indianapolis’ chances to land the new facility.

“This is the only Indianapolis site being considered,” Kintner said. “Without it, it puts the project at some peril.”

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said his staff would research a potential sale.

“I wouldn’t want the board to make a decision today,” he said. “But if there is interest in selling the property the administration would need more time to have a conversation with the mayor’s office.”

The company Kintner said, prefers not to be named while it explores options, but could reveal more if IPS’ site emerges as the front runner for the new facility.

“I think it’s only fair we would reveal more to you and we would advocate for that with the company,” he said.


What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.