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Move Forward on South Bend School Plan

Last week, the South Bend Community School Corporation released its Focus 2018 Plan which includes new grade configurations, new bell times for all levels, and the closing and repurposing of several schools. I’m hoping the community rallies around this plan and supports the efforts leaders are making to improve the school system.

Businesses do things like this all the time. To stay competitive, it’s a requirement, not an option. Businesses must carefully analyze their customer wants and needs and pivot to meet those needs or risk going out of business. Though it’s unlikely the school corporation would go out of business, it does need to make critical changes to better position itself amongst increasing competition.

The business community has a strong interest in what’s happening within the corporation. In addition to preparing students for success in life, the corporation is also preparing students for success in their career. Today’s students are tomorrows workers.

Companies today are really tuned into workers and finding, attracting, or developing top talent for their organizations. Companies realize how important a strong education foundation is for a student and see how that foundation will help influence success in the workforce.

The business community has long had an interest in the success of the local schools and has worked closely through the years on bringing quality programming to the schools like Project Lead the Way and Manufacturing Day. In addition, businesses constantly support through financial contributions or volunteer commitments many initiatives at the corporation including things like classroom programming, extracurricular activities, and building and facility improvements.

Good work by the corporation is critical to our region’s economic development efforts. Good schools are key to efforts to attract new people and new businesses to our region. It often is the top factor when people are considering a community.

We’ve long been concerned about the South Bend School Corporation and its performance. We know meaningful changes must be made within the system and that those changes will result in some hard decisions being made in order to remain competitive with other school districts in our region and across the State and Country.

The business community recognizes that the educational landscape requires bold changes now. We believe the plan that has been presented is bold and in the end, helps the corporation be fiscally responsible while also improving student achievement; maximizing instructional effectiveness; maintaining racial diversity; addressing changing community demographics.

Bold changes are certain to generate some opposition. We’ve already begun to hear from some parents and students with concerns. The difficult part of any plan is that it is impossible to develop a plan that 100% of the people will support. The school board must carefully weigh the pros and cons.

We believe waiting is not an option and will only cause the corporation and the students in it to fall further behind. We want South Bend to be a leader and we are convinced that changes like these will position the corporation for future success.

The School Corporation will hold a public hearing on the plan on Monday, November 27 at 6:00 p.m. at the Century Center. Interested parties can also provide their comments to the board via the Corporation website. Please consider letting the Board know that the time for change is now and urge them to support full implementation of the plan.

If all approvals are secured, full implementation will begin in August of 2018 at the beginning of the new school year.



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