The South Bend Community School Corporation board voted to layoff 48 teachers, 19 Family and Community School Specialists and 27 classroom aids and paraprofessionals as it tries to cut $12 million from its budget.
“Anytime someone says they’re going to let people go because of budget cuts, it’s hard, it really is,” said Mark Schwing, one of 45 certified teachers to lose a job.
Schwing had spent ten years in the ministry before taking a teaching job at LaSalle Academy four years ago.
Last year, Schwing taught fifth grade at Marshall School. “Yeah, I feel like I was doing a good job because this year all of my students raised their ISTEP scores, I had several girls that passed it for the first time.”
While Schwing is sorry he has to go, he’s not feeling sorry for himself. “Yeah, I’ll be suffering, but I’ll be able to find another job. Will the children be able to learn as well in bigger classroom sizes? And in bussing them from this school to that school because we have to close. There’s a lot more adversity to the child than there is to me.”
Mark isn’t the only one who sees the current situation has more of a public—than a personal—tragedy.
“The frightening thing to me is that, we believe class size will go up due to legislative moves those things are no longer bargain-able,” said Linda Lucy, Vice President of the NEA South Bend. “I really hope the public understands what’s happening to our public schools in terms of funding being cut, vouchers being offered and personally speaking for myself, they’re the fabric of what makes America, America.”
The final number on the human impact of the corporation’s cost cutting moves is about what board president Roger Parent expected. “I think it’s very much manageable....In the grand scheme of things we have fewer students than we used to have, but we are going to close some schools, frankly it’s time for some realignment.”
During the meeting, Trustee Jay Caponigro discussed the impact of a late change made by state officials to comply with a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind.
"A number of people retired this year, more than we initially projected and so what we were starting to look at the reductions in force we were seeing a smaller amount of individuals and that changed very rapidly," said Caponigro. "I wish we would have had more notice, certainly because that would have factored into our budget negotiations, not negotiations, but our budget conversations with the administration earlier on."
The federal government required the state to shift money around to cover failing schools, or schools given a grade of 'D' or 'F'.
"If we have school who have D's or F's and we already have money tied up in a school community resource person, a family resource person, a FACTS person, and the state requires we do other interventions then we don't have enough money to do that and each school is only allocated so much," said Superintendent Carole Schmidt. "This really is. It’s a new formula, a new application and really no one knows how the state is applying that and how our grades will look."