February 1, 2023

 University Heights Neighborhood Association (UHNA) Minutes 

January 17, 2023 (15 people attending the meeting at Stierwalt Alumni House)

Coordinator Jeri Warner called the meeting to order with a welcome to attendees and brief introductions, and Treasurer Nigel Shoaff volunteered to take notes.

Jeri asked neighbors to vote on Rachel McElwain as co-coordinator, and the vote was unanimous in favor of Rachel taking on this position. Rachel could not attend due to illness. Jeri expressed hope another person would join Rachel in the role as co-coordinator.

  • Treasurer’s Report: 
    • Nigel stated a balance of $1,713.82 in the Indiana Members Credit Union account, which included a deposit of $400 from Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND).
    • Jeri had applied for this fund disbursement in December of last year.

  • Follow up on I-65: 
    • No committee member was available to attend in January, but there was a brief discussion about the Hanna Ave bridge over I-65, which is scheduled to be rebuilt
  • Previous November minutes approved as is. Ruth Soper asked for clarification of the group. Rachel was working with to obtain her grant for several additions to the Community Park. Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC) provided the grant program application.
  • UIndy Update: Andy Kocher, Vice President for Corporate and Community Partnerships
    • Events – Pack Away Hunger: 300,000 meals have been packed by students over the years in this annual event; the effort was highlighted on Fox 59. 
    • Pack the House: Basketball games scheduled January 21 with women at 1:00 PM and men at 3:00 PM.
    • Grant announcements – Lilly Endowment awards $80 million in grants slated for Indianapolis parks with approximately $2 million going to Southside Park on Hanna Ave and $5.5 million to Garfield Park.
    • Neighborhood Businesses – Jailbird closed; new tenant is Open Kitchen at 4022 Shelby St, ComedySportz expanding its shows at 3808 Shelby St, and new owners of the Colonial Tavern at 4343 Madison Ave state it is becoming more community friendly. 
    • Chief of Police – David Selby recently retired from UIndy; interim chief is Brandon Pate, an alum of the university. Students living off campus asked University Heights neighbor Steven Koehn what number to call in an emergency. Andy stated 911 must be called, as UIndy does not have its own dispatch system.
    • A proactive plan for the Spring Ball event is in the works.
  • Raymond Brandes (School 65): As a brief introduction, School 65, along with other Indianapolis Public School (IPS) properties in the city, is scheduled to close at the end of this school year after a vote taken last November. School 65 has struggled with financial difficulties created by the cost of living increases and higher teacher salaries, along with other shortcomings. Neighbors in University Heights and administrators at UIndy who have had a positive relationship with this school over the years do not want an empty building at this site. 
    • Eddie Rangel and Matthew Rooney, co-leaders of Adelante Schools,1 which is the operating partner for Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School, 2 and Dr. John Kuykendall, Dean, Associate Professor, School of Education at UIndy, presented their plans for School 65 students, including immediate solutions and the future of this school property.
    •  Essentially a “Lab School” partnership program would be established at Emma Donnan with UIndy education students brought in for ground level training with school kids who face challenges to learning. Emma Donnan’s program would then be transplanted in School 65, if Emma Donnan secures ownership. The Lab School concept would be run at School 65 by Emma Donnan in this partnership with UIndy. The Lab School would launch in 2024 – 2025.
    • Dr. Kuykendall made further comments about factors contributing to the lack of progress at School 65 in recent years and why the Lab School collaboration is vital:
      • The school has had four principals in the last five years.
      •  This turnover does not provide consistent leadership.
      • “We need more well-prepared educators.”
      • The students at UIndy would want a place to go that is close by, where they can practice their training and develop skills in the Lab School concept.
    • The Enroll Indy program that allows parents to choose what school to enroll children closes on January 25 for the first-choice selection. And of course, School 65 cannot be chosen because it is set to be closed. There are other schools such as School 34 or James Garfield in which the School 65 students could enroll. And there are schools farther away, requiring significant increase in busing. Another lab school setup, run by Butler, cannot take on additional students.
    • As of January 16, 2023, there were 150 students at School 65. There are 130 students living nearby who currently go elsewhere for their education. Administrators at Emma Donnan encourage the parents of School 65 students to enroll in the facility at 1202 E Troy Ave (just over 1 mile away) to meet immediate needs and then be considered for the Lab School concept back at the School 65 site in the future.
    • As of the UHNA January 17 meeting, the state attorney general’s office had not made public any decisions regarding what business will take over School 65. When School 65 closes, it can go up for sale for $1. A question was asked if the building has been examined to verify its soundness, and the response was that School 65 is in working condition.
    • Eddie Rangel – Executive Director and Head of Elementary School for Adelante Schools
      • Matthew Rooney – Head of Middle School for Adelante Schools
    • Regarding a short history of Emma Donnan, the school was part of a state takeover years ago because of safety issues and insufficient learning. Then Adelante Schools was approved by the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners to be the operating partner for Emma Donnan, which has become the most successful innovation school in IPS.
  • Raymond Brandes (School 65) Final Thoughts: UHNA was asked to write a letter of support for the partnership between Emma Donnan/Adelante Schools and UIndy on the Lab School plan. A promotional printout was distributed at the meeting, showcasing an Open House at Emma Donnan for Saturday, January 28, for School 65 parents only, inviting them to experience what is possible at this school. The public information campaign theme of “Love Your School” is featured on the mailer; more details found at the school’s website – www.adelanteschools.org
  • Updates on UHNA Projects:
    • Interviews conducted for UIndy neighborhood sociology project have been finalized by students of Dr. Colleen Wynn, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology.
    • UHNA website is 19 years old; Uche Unogu and Karen Barten are using their expertise to update it; there is a need for a student to assist on developing Facebook, possibly putting a job description for what is needed on Top Dog Project at UIndy.
    • Rachel’s grant for upgrades to the Community Park – tables, benches, and solar lights – was accepted and awarded approximately $7,500 by INRC and SEND. When installations are complete, plans can be formalized for the 10th anniversary at the park.
  • Monthly Reports:
  • Quality of Life Updates
    • Ruthann Osenbaugh (Rudy) stated the Health & Wellness Team has not met recently due to the absence of a Community Builder but will get back on track.
    • Ruth Soper discussed SoIndy information – Kelli Mirgeaux of SEND interviewed two strong candidates for Community Builder and will soon make final decision to hire; frequency of meetings to be discussed as the number of organizations is now 22 from the original 8 SoIndy neighborhood associations.
    • Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD) Team – Ruth mentioned wayfinding signs to be installed on sidewalks or on the ground on Shelby St and near Garfield Park, promoting the many features in the oldest park in the city.
    • Ruth reminds neighbors that Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) provides home repair assistance at its website – www.INHP.org/SIHR
    • Bethany Community Gardens at 4702 S East St to start planting in March.
  • Political Representative – Senator Jack Sandlin
    • Establishing the budget at the Indiana statehouse – to be completed by April
    • Discussion on eliminating state income tax in 2027
    • Pay down the debt; by 2027 a billion dollars to be paid off
    • Education a priority as stated by Governor Holcomb; Senator Sandlin was interested in the discussion of UIndy and Emma Donnan involving School 65.
    • Question was asked if we would pay taxes on the state refunds in 2022.


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