South Bend Schools held a task force meeting to discuss the results of a survey seeking input from the community on their long-term facilities master plan. The meeting focused on phase two of the plan, which dealt with elementary and middle schools, and presented three scenarios for consolidating the district.
The task force shared the survey data, which showed that the community recognizes the need for change but is hesitant to support the closure of their own schools. Scenario A would vacate both Muessel and Warren Elementary Schools, while Scenario B would also vacate Warren Elementary and convert McKinley and Kennedy Schools into early childhood centers. Scenario C would vacate Warren Elementary and Jackson Middle Schools and convert Darden into a middle school and Swanson into an elementary school.
The task force acknowledges that it is impossible to devise a plan that will satisfy everyone, but they will consider community feedback heavily when presenting a single recommendation to the school board. The community feedback suggested support for preserving successful choice programs, reducing the number of high schools, and creating clear feeder patterns within the district. However, options like Scenario C and reducing the district to two high schools were deemed unpopular.
Survey administrators remind the community that consolidating some schools is part of a bigger cost-cutting plan that aims to redirect more funds into classrooms instead of empty buildings and utilities. The task force's recommendation will be presented to the school board next Monday, but no decision will be made until April 17th.
The consolidation plan remains controversial, but the task force hopes to create a more cohesive and cost-effective plan for the future of South Bend Schools.
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