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Journey Toward Excellence
A Systemic Change Effort in the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township
Indianapolis, Indiana
Facilitated by Indiana University


Tucked in the southwest corner of Indianapolis, the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township is one of Marion County's 11 public school corporations.

Students attend the corporation's centralized kindergarten program (Early Childhood Center), four elementaries (Lynwood, Stephen Decatur, Valley Mills and West Newton), Decatur Middle School and Decatur Central High School. The total enrollment is approximately 5,600. That total enrollment is served by 372 full-time teachers, 33 administrators and 266 non-teaching staff members.

The MSD of Decatur Township's percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunches and textbooks for the 2001-02 school year was about 40 percent, eclipsing the state average of 32 percent. That characteristic corresponds with 2000 U.S. Census figures for Decatur Township showing the median family income at $35,000 with about 5 percent receiving public assistance.

Besides serving students from the Camby, West Newton, Valley Mills, Mars Hill and Seerly Creek neighborhoods, the MSD of Decatur Township's enrollment includes African-American students from the Indianapolis area bordered by Fall Creek Parkway, Central Avenue and 34th Street. That area is known as the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood, and its 420 students are transported by bus to and from Decatur Township daily under a federal court order intended to desegregate Indianapolis Public Schools.

The students who make the daily trek from Mapleton-Fall Creek and back make a majority of the school corporation's minority population. About 90 percent of the MSD of Decatur Township's student body are white.

A Growing Community

Residential construction starts have exceeded 300 homes for the last four years, and that number figures to increase annually in the future. Decatur Township's population is approximately 24,000 and increasing. The flood of new homes with elementary school- and middle school-age children has created a space problem for some MSD of Decatur Township buildings.

To meet the space needs, as well as addressing aging buildings in need of large-scale improvements, the corporation will later this year break ground on a construction/renovation project. The project will essentially raze and rebuild Stephen Decatur Elementary School, carry out extensive renovations at West Newton and construct two intermediate schools, connected by common facilities, at Mann Road and Epler Avenue. When the township's tax base will accommodate another construction/renovation project, Decatur Central High School is in need of serious remodeling and expansion work.

The MSD of Decatur Township, however, realizes that new or refurbished buildings are only a part of the overall process to make educational opportunities as effective as possible. The corporation is partnering with Indiana University to embark on a district-wide Journey Toward Excellence. That effort strives to ensure the corporation is helping every student reach his or her potential, every teacher to be more effective and fulfilled in delivering instruction, every parent play a more meaningful role in their child's education, and every administrator to be more effective in facilitating all the above.

A Changing Community

The systemic change movement is timely because Decatur Township is now well into evolving from a heavy concentration of farming and somewhat rural characteristics to being more of an industrial- and commercial-based locale. Much of that transformation results from the development of AmeriPlex, the state's largest business park. Unfortunately, some of the industrial entities within AmeriPlex's boundaries received tax relief incentives as part of their establishing operations locally, and the school corporation has sacrificed because of a smaller commercial property tax base.

Still, since being founded in 1995, the mixed-use business center has attracted major corporations, manufacturing/distribution companies, employers offering professional opportunities and retail entities. Much of AmeriPlex's drawing power for the business community is its location. It is located 1.5 miles south of Interstate 465 on State Road 67 (Kentucky Avenue). That locale offers excellent access to the Decatur Township, Wayne Township, Mooresville and Greenwood areas and their school systems. As those communities and the Plainfield, Avon and Brownsburg communities continue to grow AmeriPlex's potential blossoms even more.

The business park is conducive to working hand-in-hand with a fast growing region that features quality infrastructure and plenty of employment opportunities in one of the fastest growing housing markets in the Indianapolis metropolitan and surrounding areas.

As a result, AmeriPlex is interested in assisting in establishing an institute of higher education within the park, or nearby. The reciprocal benefits of such a venture would include AmeriPlex and local communities boasting all the vocational and quality of life amenities that can contribute to student recruitment. Conversely, AmeriPlex would benefit from access to qualified and well prepared additions to the working world, as well as employees who have more chances than ever before to improve themselves from a vocational standpoint.

For a brief written history of the Decatur Township schools, click here...

For further information, contact Becky Brodhacker by email at or by phone at 317-856-5265

Follow this link to go to the MSD Decatur Website.

© 2007 by Charles Reigeluth
Last updated: May 22, 2007
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