SBCSC School Board Discusses Plans

SBCSC School Board Discusses Plans

Madison Brady, Reporter

About a week ago, The South Bend Community School Corporation School Board had a meeting to discuss three possible plans for the school year beginning 2024-2025. One of the plans discussed was to keep all four high schools in South Bend open, but close Muessel and Warren Elementary Schools. The second plan was to go down to three high schools and close Warren Elementary and Clay High School. Darden and Marshall Elementary would then become either K-8 middle schools or 6-8 middle schools. The third plan was to go down to two high schools and close Warren Elementary, Jackson Middle, and Clay High School. Riley High School would then possibly turn into a middle school. 

Many teachers have strong opinions about the different plans and how it will affect them. Referring to the elementary schools possibly becoming middle schools, one teacher said, “I am very disappointed that it would even be mentioned that our elementary school would become a middle school. The building doesn’t have a gym, a stage, a big enough cafeteria, or even bathroom capacity for older students. It doesn’t make sense to spend all that money to rebuild a building to become something different when it is prospering the way that it is”. Not only does this teacher point out the impact this plan will have on the students and the physical space in the school, but also the fact that it might be a major financial waste. 

When asked to express their opinion, that same teacher said, “The approach is going to have a negative impact on this community. If they want students to fill seats, taking an entire high school away from the north side is not going to do that. They need to build up their code of conduct, have a direct behavior plan, use their space for some alternative programs, and find the support and resources students need. In my opinion, they should start cutting the extra paychecks for downtown positions and start giving the schools the counselors, social workers, and small classes that were promised. Parents want a school system they are proud of and they are leaving because those things are missing”. This teacher expresses their concerns and gives a few opinions on what they should do.

Teachers need to be taken into consideration when making changes to the schools because their careers could possibly be changed or eliminated. However, students that attend these schools are also facing difficulties with the new plans. In order to get into regional schools such as LaSalle Middle School and Clay International Academy, students have to be accepted. If they are not, they will have to go to the district school based on where they live. This could negatively affect many students as they might be separated from their friends, or simply go to a school where they do not fit in. One student said, “I hope it [the plan] doesn’t happen. I want a chance to be able to finish my elementary school years without having to switch schools. Because the plan won’t affect me until my fifth grade year, I will finish my fourth grade year next year, then I will have to go to another school for my fifth grade year, then I will have to come back for my sixth through eighth grade years. Also, all of my siblings went to the same school and I want to finish out my elementary years at one school like them”. This student gives a perspective on what it will be like trying to transition from elementary to middle school without having to switch back and forth. 

Another group of people that need to be factored into the decision are the parents. Transportation issues will be a huge factor for most parents due to the fact that there will most likely not be transportation via bus if a student lives out of district. This would mean that the parent would have to drive their child to school, which may not work with some parents’ schedules, especially if they have two or more children of different ages that start school at different times. One parent said, “I am not happy that my son will possibly have to transfer to a different middle school if this plan passes. It is difficult to decide where to send him because I’m not sure what the plan is yet. I also do not like the plan to go down to two high schools. I don’t want to only have two high school options to send my kids to”. This parent expresses how tough it will be to decide where their child should go to school so they won’t have to worry about going to two different schools. 

Once the time comes for the School Board to make a decision, they will need to keep in mind the effect it will have on the entire community of South Bend. Many different opinions were shared from three different perspectives, and their main goal is to convince the School Board to listen to their concerns and think about the community as a whole and whether or not we will actually benefit from the decision or not.