Clay High School Closure


Pike Temple, Sports Editor

Clay High School, a public school in the SBCSC district, will be closing following the 2023-2024 school year. On Monday, April 17th, the South Bend school board voted to close the building as a result of a 4-3 deficit in favor of the closure. A request for the vote to be delayed by multiple board members was unfortunately denied, and as a result, the voting commenced, giving way to the 4-3 result in favor of closing the school. In the end, the board voted to close the public school, 84 years after its establishment in 1939. 

The general causation for the referendum came as a result of the district’s worries regarding the distribution of funds to support all of the public schools in need across the district. The unfortunate reality for schools across the country such as Clay, that don’t meet certain capacity levels, or come close to reaching the maximum capacity that the building allows, is that the monetary funds necessary to maintain the building, to some, outweigh the benefits of keeping the building open. 

The board’s decision to close Clay High School left many families disgruntled and concerned about their children’s future in South Bend public schools, but the decision makes some logical sense. According to a South Bend Tribune article, the closure of the school would save $16.2 million required to keep the school open over the next 5 years. The same article also states that “Clay students will be given priority in the coming academic years when enrolling at other South Bend schools,” which should relieve some parents of current Clay High School students. 

In another South Bend Tribune article, students from Clay High School took to the streets outside of the school to voice their disapproval of the decision. Juniors and seniors attending Clay High School would likely not be affected by the closure as they would graduate before the 2024-2025 school year, however, underclassmen from Clay HS would face an uncertain future after the 2024 school year. 

The board’s plan for the reconstruction of the public school system involves the movement of the Fine Arts magnet program to Riley High School, which boasts the current Computer Science and Engineering magnet program. Like Clay, Riley is another public school that has struggled to maintain a steady number of attendees in recent years, but the proposal by the board insists that the closure of Clay will at least raise attendance levels within Riley HS to a more desirable capacity. The plan set in place by the South Bend school board predicts that the majority of Clay students who wish to remain a part of the Fine Arts magnet would attend Riley High School for the 2024-2025 school year. However, while acceptance isn’t guaranteed, it is feasible that Clay High School students would have the option of attending the district’s three remaining high schools, Riley, Washington, or Adams, following the “2023-”2024 school year. 

Dalayna McGee, a senior at Clay High School, reflected on her time at Clay and shared her thoughts regarding the decision to close the school. McGee stated, “I believe the decision was needed to an extent. However I don’t feel like it should have gone this way.”  She also revealed her feelings toward the school. “When I actually started to think about the impact that it [Clay High School] has [had] on South Bend, I think about all the good things that clay has done for me and other students. McGee also responded in depth about the outlook for underclassmen currently enrolled at Clay High School. “Some kids won’t even have the correct transportation to get to the other schools on the different sides of town. Some kids’ only option was Clay High School, because of the distance.” She then remarked, “Some kids’ parents graduated from clay and it was part of a tradition to go to this school. Lastly, McGee commented, “I believe I know why the corporation made the decision to close down Clay High School, but I don’t believe that they took into consideration the effect that this can have on a whole community. I know for a fact that Clay is not the absolute best school and may never be,  I even wonder why I go to the school sometimes, but this school is what hundreds of people call home.” McGee will be graduating from Clay High School in the following few weeks, but she is saddened by the idea that Clay will close after the 2023-2024 school year and will miss the admirable aspects of Clay High School that she experienced daily.