The School

Cold Spring School is Indianapolis Public Schools' only magnet school for environmental studies.

Its specialized curriculum teaches students in grades K-6 about the environment and human interactions with nature. Students read, write, and solve real world problems while learning about the environment.

Throughout the year, students spend time outdoors studying the woodlands, creek, wetlands, greenhouse, and various gardens on the 39 acres that make up the campus. Two miles of nature trails are used to teach students about the watershed, native plants and trees, wildlife and birds. Students use outdoor raised garden beds to learn about growing vegetables and fruits. A four-acre open area is the site for field days, outdoor learning labs, and camping.

A Bit of History

The entire Cold Spring School campus was originally the estate of the Charles M. Sommers family, who raised two boys there and regularly socialized with the other wealthy families along Cold Spring Road. The estate is of historical importance because the buildings represent the style known as the American Country Place Era and because portions of the landscaping were designed by Jens Jensen, a prominent landscape architect of the era.

  • In 1957 the property was sold to Tudor Hall for Girls, a private residential and day school, which built the main school building that now houses Cold Spring School. In 1967, South Hall was constructed to provide additional dormitory space for the girls.
  • In 1969, Indianapolis Public Schools acquired the property to house a special education program, aiming to be ready to launch in 1973 when special education was to become mandatory. The first IPS students attended in 1970, and one year the school served the freshman class of Crispus Attucks High School.
  • In 1973, IPS began to use the facility for a special education program serving multiply handicapped, severely/profoundly retarded, or moderately retarded students, ages 5 to 18. The school held 350 students, making it one of the largest special education schools in the nation. Students were assigned to classes according to their age, disability, and level of functioning; class sizes varied from 7 to 15.
  • When special education was mainstreamed into regular classrooms, for awhile the school became Cold Spring Academy.
  • In 1990, IPS repurposed the main school building as the Cold Spring School Center for Democracy, a magnet program for K-2 students, adding on a grade level for each of the next three years. The program incorporated an element of environmental awareness and outdoor education as part of the overall theme of students becoming engaged citizens.
  • Late in that decade, IPS considered adding a middle school and modifying the magnet focus to environmental studies, and that was how the school operated through the 2000s.
  • In 2010, in an effort to strengthen the program, IPS hired new teachers who demonstrated a passion for the environment, reduced the student body to K-6, and later undertook extensive renovations. Cold Spring students spent a year at IPS School 87 before returning to a brand new school in August 2012.

Cold Spring School 315

3650 Cold Spring Road
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Principal: Carrie Scott
Phone: 226-4155 Fax: 226-4157
School Website



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