With all the auto shops, fast-food joints and boarded-up houses in the vicinity, it is somewhat disorienting to find Mr. Longest operating out of a $17 million performing arts annex, part of a recently completed $50 million renovation of New Albany High School that was financed by property taxes. With its airy glass lobbies and soaring curved roofs, its 24-hour radio station, television broadcast center, huge indoor pool and student bank, the building could be mistaken for the centerpiece of a college campus. But it’s a public school. Despite local poverty (one-third of New Albany’s 2,000 students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches), residents rejected a tax cut – by a ratio of eight to one – in order to pay for the improvements. Steve Sipes, the principal, said they had done so because the arts at New Albany had over the years brought a measure of pride, comparable only to that generated by the sports teams, to a city that’s seen better days.
I see on Great Schools that New Albany High ranks below neighboring high schools in English and math scores, and below the state average.