South Bend School Board approves $12.2 million in cuts

The South Bend Community School Corporation Board approved a $12.2 million budget reduction package at Wednesday night’s board meeting, which includes cutting teaching positions and closing schools.

The cuts come as the corporation faces a more than $10 million dollar deficit over the next two years.

Earlier in the academic year, the board rejected some of the same cuts they approved Wednesday – eliminating part-time aides, explorer aides, and the Riley Early College Program.

Several board members tried to save some of the items from being cut at the meeting, making motions to vote on each line item individually rather than as a whole package.

“I would say at least a third of it, if not more was cutting supportive services to our students who need those services,” said board member Dawn Jones.

Jones wanted student advocates at the high schools to be spared, but the board voted 5-1 to approve the package; Jones was the only nay.

Among the cuts are 96 teaching positions, some of which will be eliminated through attrition. The rest will have to come from layoffs and, thanks to a new state statute, teachers who’ve been with the corporation the longest won’t necessarily be the ones staying.

“It’s teaching license, certification, special training, those are the top three that will be looked at,” said Superintendent Carole Schmidt.

Schmidt says the corporation won’t know the exact number of teachers who will be laid off until closer to the end of the school year.

The corporation will also close a primary and an intermediate school in 2013 to curb costs, although Schmidt says the board hasn’t decided which buildings.

Board member Bill Sniadecki says while he doesn’t agree with all of the items included in the package, the corporation couldn’t go any longer without reducing its expenditures.

He’s hopeful South Bend schools will get some of the students they lost to vouchers back in the next year, which could mean some of the cuts approved don’t actually have to happen.

“This is basically approval to give the superintendent to make moves she has to make,” he said. “My hope is that we're not going to have to do all of those cuts and we get some of that money back, that half a billion dollars.”

But Schmidt says there’s a chance the board could be in the same position next year – having to make painful but necessary cuts.

“It depends on what the state legislature does and it depends on what our enrollment does,” Schmidt said. “There's no guarantee given the volatility.”

For a full list of the approved cuts, click on the document attached to this story.

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