Two elementary schools will be part of a redesign plan in South Bend to help turn them around.
The South Bend Community School Board voted 5-2 Monday evening to move forward with a plan to deep dive into the root causes of why two of its schools, Muessel Elementary and Marquette Montessori school, have been under-performing the last five years.
According to the state, the schools have received four consecutive annual failing grades, and any more would force the schools to be taken over by the state in order to right the ship. But, the plan approved by the school board Monday allows for the schools to stay within the control of the school district.
One of the main issues the schools are dealing with is a high turnover rate among teachers. The plan would enter the district into an agreement with teachers that if they make a three-year commitment to the schools, they would get an annual stipend of up to $5,000, on top of a one-time stipend of $3,000.
However, many teachers at the schools will be displaced once the plan is implemented and they will have to re-apply for their jobs.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said the goal of the whole plan is to root out inequity for students.
“We’re going make sure we get all the data we need to make decisions,” Cummings said. “This is about the babies in those schools that aren’t reading and don’t have a fair chance.”
Some board members, who voted against the measure, were concerned the agreement to give teachers extra money to stay at the two struggling schools is not fair to other teachers in the district who are not getting that extra help.
The board did vote a few weeks ago, by a 4-3 vote, to approve a plan to close two other elementary schools, which Cummings said would save the district money in operating costs and then would allow them to pay teachers more across the whole district.