Elementary reorganization and closing plans for 2021-22 presented at SBCSC board meeting

Elementary reorganization and closing plans for 2021-22 presented at SBCSC board meeting
Posted on 01/25/2021
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Improved academic outcomes, financial responsibility drive corporation plans for upcoming school year

Plans for rightsizing and reorganizing the South Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC) were presented this evening at the regular meeting of the South Bend Community School Board of Trustees.

Included in tonight’s discussion were plans to close Hay and Tarkington Elementary Schools at the end of this academic year. Each K-5 school building has capacity to serve more than 600 students; currently, Hay utilizes less than 50% of that capacity and Tarkington less than 60%.

“As we stated last year in advance of the referendum vote, the District is committed to rightsizing. Closing Hay and Tarkington would be a resourceful response to underutilized buildings and declining enrollment. Continuing to spend money to maintain buildings that are used at half capacity makes little sense,” said Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings. “As stewards of this corporation’s financial resources, the Board and I have the responsibility and duty to examine options for improving academic outcomes and for making wise budgetary decisions.”

Four virtual information sessions have been scheduled for Wednesday, February 3 for families, staff, and faculty of the two schools. Two sessions will be specifically for families, and Dr. Cummings will answer questions and explain school options for students affected by the closures. The other two sessions are designed specifically for faculty and staff, and will focus primarily on human resources issues for those whose jobs will be impacted by the closures. Details of those meetings will be sent to stakeholders this week.

In addition to closing Hay and Tarkington, SBCSC plans to create an Innovation Network Zone for two other elementary schools, Muessel Elementary and Marquette Montessori Academy, both of which have consistently underperformed. An Innovation Zone will provide these underperforming schools with autonomy and the support necessary for improved academic achievement.

“Every student in the South Bend Community School Corporation deserves to attend a high performing school. For too long, some of our students have been tethered to failing schools; it is time to transform their academic lives and explore ways to allow students’ potential to shine,” said Cummings.

“These decisions to close and reorganize are rooted in the priorities of our strategic plan: academic success, financial sustainability, and equity and inclusion,” Cummings said.

A final Board vote on these plans is scheduled for Monday, February 22.

Contact: Susan Guibert, Chief Communications Officer; sguibert@sb.school.

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