Senior staff writer
Bruce Hibbard, in just his second year as superintendent of Franklin Township Schools, has already developed a quick understanding of the community. “This is one big, giant neighborhood,” he said. “There is a definite sense of community, and they rally around their schools, which is very important.”
Extracurricular activities fuel community spirit as the public sees students perform in plays, musicals, orchestras, marching bands and athletic events. “As kids progress, the voluntary aspects of becoming more involved in those activities increases,” Hibbard said. “There is a real correlation among academic success and extracurricular participation; those students who are involved have to be more disciplined with their time management. “It is really the model of learning because of specific instruction, direction and practice time for each student who prepares to perform.”
Like all administrators, Hibbard contends that the lessons learned through those activities develop leadership and team-oriented characteristics with value in the workplace. It has a great deal to do with the community spirit,” Hibbard said. “If you are an elementary school student and go to a sports event, a play or musical, it gives that kid an impetus to do that in the future. It also drives people in the community to attend those events and that develops a great sense of pride.”
Hibbard is in his 10th year as a superintendent after leading New Albany-Floyd County Schools for eight years. He likes all of Franklin Township’s facilities, including the multimillion dollar renovation of the former Wanamaker Elementary into a pre-K center to open next August.
“To be a community partner, this assures that we can be an important part of that community and make Wanamaker vibrant. There is no facility like that in Franklin Township.”
The annex building at Edgewood Avenue and Franklin Road will be used for services for impaired students instead of transporting those students to Perry Township. New roofing and heating and cooling systems are being installed in addition to renovating the entrance. Youth sports programs and the the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department utilize the back of the building for training. Hibbard said he would like to see the classrooms on the back side of the high school – built in the 1970s – renovated.
He is an alum of Frankfort High, where he was the assistant principal. He served as assistant superintendent of Washington Township Schools in Marion County. Demographic studies by Indiana University Kelly School of Business indicate that Franklin Township Schools’ enrollment will grow by 2,000 students over the next 10 years.
Hibbard said he believes the elementary schools and the high school can handle student increases but that Middle School West, originally built as an intermediate school, needs an expanded academic wing. “We can accomplish all that with proper long-term planning,” Hibbard said.