Ind⁠i⁠anapol⁠i⁠s Publ⁠i⁠c School Sys⁠t⁠em Engages Effor⁠t⁠s ⁠t⁠o Re⁠i⁠nv⁠i⁠gora⁠t⁠e S⁠t⁠uden⁠t⁠ Enrollmen⁠t⁠

December 13, 2023

Kayla Maloney

CALN Project Manager

Side view of smiling black boy giving high five to teacher while sitting with diverse classmate girl at desk in classroom
  • Traditional K-12 institutions are realizing that they no longer have a guaranteed market as alternative options become more attractive to parents. IPS found the solution: a new marketing strategy and reorganization plan aimed at bolstering competition, boosting enrollment, and fixing their public school system.

After experiencing decades of decline in public school enrollment, the Indianapolis Public School System (IPS) has revealed their Rebuilding Stronger plan, the purpose of which is to reinvigorate student enrollment by improving their schools and curriculums. IPS is effectively embracing the challenge of competition in their district amid the growing popularity of non-public schools. 

According to Chalkbeat Indiana, “An analysis by Lubienski and others at the center found that [IPS] has lost roughly 41% of its student population from 2006 to 2022, or more than 15,500 students. (That figure excludes students in charters that are part of the district’s Innovation Network.)” 

IPS is feeling the weight of these numbers as parents continue to pull their kids out of public schools. Essentially, traditional K-12 institutions are realizing they no longer have a guaranteed market. 

The solution? IPS is engaging in a new marketing strategy that bolsters competition among schools in the district, with their slogan “Choose Your IPS” inspiring families to make their voices heard by selecting which schools to send their children to. Paired with this campaign is an impressive expansion of curriculum options, as part of the Rebuilding Stronger plan. 

Set to begin in 2024, this plan details a reorganization of their school system aimed at “boost[ing] enrollment by expanding specialized academic programming and offering more rigorous academic courses and electives” in addition to creating four new enrollment zones and reconfiguring grades. By accomplishing the latter, “all middle school students will have access to band or orchestra, a world language, and Algebra 1.” 

“Our hope is that with those three things combined, our three- and five-year projections would be very positive and would reflect an upward trend because of how much more students are being offered,” said Patrick Herrel, the district’s director of enrollment and options. 

Rather than leave their public school system behind as differing options, such as charter, private, and homeschool become more attractive to parents, IPS took action to bolster the system’s merit. Rebuilding Stronger is a battle plan which the district hopes will drastically improve the quality of their public schools and employ healthy competition to bring students back into the system. 

With this change will come growing pains, as some schools close to make way for others to open. However, IPS knows that this solution is the best way to stabilize public school enrollment and restore an environment where parents are confident to send their children. 

Principle Jeremy Baugh of Brookside School 54, a school which serves a high percentage of low-income families, said of Rebuilding Stronger, “it’s going to be a game changer.” 

Baugh concluded, “I think our goal is to make sure that whatever we offer in our school, it’s great for families.” This is the sentiment which IPS had in mind as they curated Rebuilding Stronger, and it may behoove other districts to start thinking this way as well.