South Bend School Officials Announce Plans To Close Two Elem. Schools, Reorganize Others
At Monday night's meeting of the South Bend Community School Board, plans were announced to close two elementary schools, Tarkington and Hay. The schools were chosen based on capacity, not academics – Hay uses less than half of its capacity, while Tarkington uses less than 60 percent according to school officials.
Superintendent Todd Cummings said closing the schools would save the district money and improve efficiency. But board member Jeanette McCullough expressed concern about what the closures could do to those schools’ neighborhoods and communities.
“We cannot have a community with a bunch of buildings closed," McCullough said. "I don’t like the idea [of] ‘We’re close schools and that’s going to save us money.’ Don’t put price tags on our children.”
Board President John Anella said removing the cost of operating “half-full” buildings would allow the school district to redirect funds to teachers, students and support staff.
If the schools are closed, students would be moved to one of six other elementary schools. A series of informational meetings will be held for parents, faculty and staff on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Cummings is also proposing a special program to address what he calls two “consistently underperforming” schools, Muessel Elementary and Marquette Montessori.
“My commitment is to ensure that every student goes to a high-performing school and is able to participate,” Cummings said.
Reorganization options are also being considered for middle and high schools. One idea calls for merging three underperforming middle schools into two high schools with extra space. A last resort could even call for the closure of a high school.
The board is expected to vote on the elementary school proposals on Monday, Feb. 22. The other issues affecting middle and high schools will be decided by the end of 2021.
(You can read the release from SBCSC below.)