Plan to close Clay High School presented to South Bend School Board

(Tommie Lee/MNC)

With the number of students in South Bend Community Schools going down over the last two decades, school district leaders are being faced with tough decisions on how to move ahead.

One of those decisions involved the future of South Bend Clay High School, which outside consultants have officially recommended to the school board that they close within the next four years.

Since 2007, SBCSC has seen a drop in enrollment throughout the whole district by about 4,000 students. In like manner that means fewer students are enrolled at the district’s high schools. The school district brought in consultants with Fanning Howey and HPM to look into solutions on how to address under-enrollment at South Bend schools.

“Just the overall community voice and the number of meetings we’ve had, it’s been extensive throughout this whole process,” said Scott Leopold, a consultant with the district’s facility planning team. “If you choose to keep Clay open, it’s going to cost you $16 million over the next five years.”

Leopold said with enrollment below 60-percent at Clay, that would not be a good return on investment in the school. He recommends closing Clay High School as well as Warren Elementary School by 2027. That, he says, will better distribute students throughout the district.

If that were to happen it would reduce the number of high schools in South Bend from four to three.

Furthermore, he says it would protect the district from proposed state legislation that could force school districts to close schools with below 60-percent enrollment, which is also impacting South Bend Riley and South Bend Washington High Schools as well.

There was a lot of public outcry against the recommendations at a school board meeting Monday night. Many current Clay students and parents spoke fervently that they want district leaders to find a way to keep Clay open.

ABC 57 reports the school board could decide whether to approve the plan during their meeting on April 17th.

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DAVID A KRIEGEL March 21, 2023 at 7:52 am

How has the school aged demographics changed in South Bend over the last 20 years? Are there less school aged children? An aging population has many consequences

Ray B March 21, 2023 at 4:29 pm

Vouchers to attend private schools and being able to register your child in any school is a significant contributor to our public school issues. If I understand the voucher system correctly, and please challenge me if I don’t. Even as a Christian, I do not like the fact that some of my tax money can go to help send kids to parochial schools. I also believe that all private schools should be privately funded.

Our state legislature has set our public School systems up for failure. Don’t blame the teachers, the administration, blame your elected officials for weakening our public school system. Strengthening private schools is not the solution to strengthening public schools.

One of the other challenges we have is that parents are not supportive of public schools discipline. The lack of order in many public schools is why a lot of young people and parents are choosing to go to private schools. Private schools have the option of kicking you out and sending you back to public school if the students and the parents, who are the true persons who are responsible for a child’s behavior no matter where they are, cannot get the child’s behavior under control. More students should be sent to alternative education if they cannot handle maintaining order in classroom settings.

Thor March 22, 2023 at 5:00 am

Our private funds should never have been used to fund government indoctrination centers that fail to teach students how to read, write or do basic arithmetic. If I send a child to a private institution or do the required work to provide effective homeschooling will my property taxes be reduced because I choose not to avail myself or family of the government center? No they won’t, so pay twice for a singular outcome…admittedly a much better outcome but still pay twice.

Discipline is an issue (not just in school) but so are observable outcomes. Government schools are failing their wards and the country as a whole. Past time to do away with Jimmmuh Cahhtahs Dept. of “education”.

Charles U Farley March 23, 2023 at 9:19 am

The teachers and the administrations overwhelmingly support the policies that cause the lack of discipline that is making the public schools fail. They don’t all realize the consequences of those policies, but that doesn’t mean they do not support them. Public educators, especially in blue cities like South Bend, tend to be leftists.

The state legislature did not cause this problem, they did not expand this problem, and they cannot fix this problem. All they can do is alleviate the symptoms by allowing students to flee the dismal schools.

You’re blaming the wrong people.

James Johns March 22, 2023 at 8:08 am

The solution: P A R E N T I N G … BOTH parents!

Charles U Farley March 23, 2023 at 9:26 am

Nearly 3 out of 4 black children are born into single parent households, up dramatically (was 25% in 1970) from where it used to be before the government stepped in and started playing daddy (or at least paying for it all). White children fare better, but not well, at about 30% (was 3% in 1970). Under the current rules, “both parents” is a pipe dream.

You will NEVER fix education until you abolish the welfare state.


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