South Bend School Officials Hold Parent Q&A Sessions On Potentially Closing Elementary Schools
Last week, South Bend school officials announced they were considering closing Hay and Tarkington elementary schools at the end of this year. The school corporation held two virtual Q&A sessions on Wednesday for the students and parents of those two schools.
The recommended closures are part of an effort to “right-size” the school district, according to school officials – both Hay and Tarkington use less than 60 percent of their building capacity, and Superintendent Todd Cummings said their closure could make the district more efficient.
Questions at the meeting could only be typed in by parents seeking answers or expressing concern. One of the main concerns mentioned was that closing Hay and Tarkington could increase other schools’ class sizes, potentially complicating social distancing protocols. But Chief Academic Officer Brandon White said the district has the resources to keep class sizes low.
“The size or the enrollment of a school will be done by adding teachers and classrooms, not increasing class sizes,” White said.
Some parents also expressed frustration that the school closing plan was revealed before seeking input from families affected. Cummings stressed that only the school board can close buildings, so all of the school corporation’s plans are still just proposals.
Cummings assured parents that while Hay and Tarkington teachers would need to reapply for open positions, he anticipates being able to keep all teachers within the district.
He also assured bus transportation would be provided to students’ new assigned schools. If the schools close, Hay students will attend Monroe, Harrison, Marshall, Madison or Wilson Elementary. Tarkington students will attend either Darden or Swanson Elementary. Students also have to option to apply to one of the district's magnet schools.
The board is scheduled to vote whether to close Hay and Tarkington on Monday, Feb. 22. If they vote to close, families will be notified of their new assigned schools by Feb. 26.
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