Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School granted charter

December 7, 2015  

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indianapolis Charter School Board on Thursday (Dec. 3) awarded a charter to the Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School. The board’s decision was the final step in the school’s application process.

“With the approval of the charter, we are now able to start making bigger investments in the future of the school,” said Gary Bertoline, dean of Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “Our next big steps are hiring a school leader and selecting a location. Both of those goals should be accomplished in the next few months.”

President Mitch Daniels announced Purdue University’s plans to create the STEM-focused high school in June. The first group of ninth-grade students is expected to enroll in the high school in August 2017.

"Our goal is for Purdue to break new ground in Indiana and perhaps beyond by increasing the number of students, particularly low-income or first-generation students, who are prepared for college and entry into the workforce,” Daniels said. “We intend the school to become a direct pipeline to Purdue, with those successfully completing the curriculum being offered direct admission to the university. We plan to increase significantly the unacceptably low number of Indianapolis Public School students who are qualified to succeed at Purdue.”

For Indianapolis resident and Ivy Tech Community College employee Katrina Owens, the projected August 2017 opening date has a special significance: that’s when her daughter Kayla will be a freshman. And Owens, who attended Thursday’s meeting, is hoping Kayla starts her freshman year at the Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School.

“I came upon the concept for the school when it was in the development stage and immediately added it to a possible list of schools for my daughter,” she said. “When she expressed interest to me in attending Purdue, the Polytechnic High School became my first choice for Kayla.

“I’m excited about the possibilities and groundbreaking opportunities available for Kayla and want to be sure she has access to the best education she can possibly have. I might just end up being the first member of the school’s (parent-teacher organization).”

The school board of directors anticipates announcing a downtown Indianapolis location for the high school over the next several weeks. A number of sites are under consideration.

The innovation-focused charter school in downtown Indianapolis could also serve as a springboard to eventually allow for expansion into other cities where Purdue Polytechnic offers Purdue degree programs. The high school curriculum will mirror the transformed Purdue Polytechnic Institute on the West Lafayette campus and serve as a pipeline to the institute.

Planning for the new school has been in the works for more than a year under the direction of a steering committee composed of leaders from Purdue, the city of Indianapolis, USA Funds and EmployIndy. USA Funds has provided a $500,000 planning grant, administered by EmployIndy, for the start-up of the school.

Bertoline said Purdue faculty, primarily from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, will contribute to developing the curriculum and teaching methods for the school, which will blend K-12 and postsecondary education with an infusion of industry leadership and participation.

How it will work

Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School will have open enrollment for a technology-based curriculum in which the first two years will encompass problem- and project-based learning focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics with a connection between those subjects and real-world challenges. Students entering 11th grade will select a specific pathway to master skills, earn college credit and gain industry credentials while learning in the high school classroom, at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and in the workplace. In the 12th grade, students will complete an internship of their chosen pathway. As part of the program, Purdue also will provide programs that help students transition from high school to college and college-level courses. Additional information is available online

Sources: Gary Bertoline, bertolig@purdue.edu

Brooke Huntington, assistant dean for K-12 Outreach for Purdue Polytechnic Institute, bhunting@purdue.edu

Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu 

Note to Journalists: Reporters interested in speaking with Katrina Owens should contact Brian Zink, Purdue News Service, at 765-494-2080, bzink@purdue.edu 

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