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South Bend School Board Approves First Step In Plan To Redesign Underperforming Elementary Schools

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The South Bend Community School Board approved the beginnings of a plan to turn around two underperforming elementary schools at its meeting Monday night.

The board approved a preliminary pay agreement between the school corporation and the local teacher’s union, who have been collaborating on a plan to improve Marquette Montessori and Muessel Elementary. Both schools have received four consecutive years of “F” ratings based on state accountability standards. 

 

The agreement allows for yearly stipends and one-time retention bonuses for teachers at the two schools, which Board President John Anella said was a first step toward improving the schools.

 

"We have a hard time getting teachers to choose to interview and to work at Muessel and Marquette," said Chief Academic Officer Brandon White. "One of the efforts of the stipends is not only to recruit them there, but also to slow down or to stop the high percentage of turnover that we have each year."

 

School officials say the proposed redesign plan would provide more support services for students and more development opportunities for teachers. Officials say they would conduct independent reviews of both schools to determine exactly what those services would look like.

 

Board member Jeanette McCullough, who voted against the plan, said those reviews need to be conducted before the board can make any decisions about the schools. 

 

“Without a review, there’s no plan," McCullough said. "You have to have data in order to move forward, and I don’t see that.”

 

However, other board members said Marquette and Muessel have already been underperforming for too long, and that the board needed to begin the process of improving the schools.

 

The board ultimately voted 5-2 to approve the agreement, with the expectation that the details of each school’s improvement plan will be presented after their reviews.

 

Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.

 

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.
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