New charter school to open in South Bend

The number of charter schools serving the South Bend area is about to double.

In other words, instead of one charter school, there will soon be two in the South Bend city limits.

August 24th will mark the opening of the Xavier School of Excellence at 3423 South Michigan Street.

“As far as charter schools, yeah, South Bend was underserved with just the one which had a long waiting list,” said Yolanda Turner-Smith, the President of the Xavier School of Excellence Board of Directors.

Information provided by Ball State University indicates that the City of Gary has seven charter schools, while Indianapolis has four. Soon South Bend will have its second.

“We have 300-kids starting with grades K through five, and we have 40-kids in our preschool program which is separate,” said Turner-Smith.

That means that Xavier is poised to open with 80-percent more students (a total of 130) than were enrolled last academic year at the Veritas Academy—which has been in South Bend since 2002.

“There is enough people that want it, and we’re just able to fill a small portion of that gap,” said Veritas Academy Board of Directors member Jill LaFountain. “I think they (Xavier) are a great asset to this community.”

LaFountain said that Veritas had been “bursting at the seams,” and that the school has a waiting list to get in. “This gives people yet another choice, we need to have choices,” said LaFountain.

Veritas will gladly give up its local monopoly to advance the charter school philosophy.

“A charter school basically, I like to think of it as, provides a lot of the benefits of a private school, but free of charge like the public schools,” said Dan Herbster of the Xavier Board of Directors.

This year, two South Bend charter schools will go off in their own directions—in their attempts to offer something different in education.

“Well, we’re starting September 8th this year,” said Jill LaFountain of Veritas. “There’s been a big movement to have children have a full summer you know, starting after the Labor Day weekend.

While Xavier will start on August 24th just like the public schools, “We’re starting off with the language early,” said Turner-Smith. “Early Spanish, and then by seventh grade we’re introducing them to a third language, so when they graduate they’ll have three under their belt.”

There is still time to enroll in both schools---although both have waiting lists for select grades.

More information on the Xavier School of Excellence can be found at or by calling 574-234-3500.

Information on the Veritas Academy can be found at

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