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South Bend school board to vote on two school closings

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - At Monday’s meeting, the South Bend school board will be asked to vote on two recommended school closings.

Both targeted buildings now serve as elementary schools: Tarkington on the east side and Hay on the south side.

At the entrance to Hay School today there were cardboard signs that read “We love Hay,” and “Keep Hay open.”

While it’s clear that plans to close Hay will be met with some community resistance—exactly how much—is a moving target.

“At this time, we have over 250 signatures and it’s only been up for maybe ten hours,” said Hay parent Larissa DeMeester.

By 4:00 p.m. that figure had surpassed 400. DeMeester’s Change.Org petition drive to save Hay School went live last night.

“Parents will be asked to not only leave the school that they enjoy having right now but sending their kids to some schools that are failing over many years,” explained Hay teacher Larry Nagy. “It’s very successful right now. I don’t know why you would want to mess with things that are being successful in a corporation where things have been going the wrong way for some time now.”

DeMeester has a daughter who is in the second grade at Hay. “Hay is meeting the standards. The scores are there, the education is there for these kids, they are excelling. The reason Hay is being threatened to be closed is because its enrollment is low,” she said.

Hay is one of three South Bend elementary school buildings that are less than 50 percent occupied.

Some see it as being half empty: “To me it’s half full. It could be fuller. I think there’s some other ideas we could look at to even fill it higher and possibly bring some of parents back to South Bend,” Nagy said.

Today, some student-made signs protesting the possible closing lined a Hay hallway as students expressed their feelings about the school’s future.

“They love it there, and now I’m seeing the love poured out on those signs it makes you want to continue to do the things that you do for them,” Nagy explained.

The public will be heard before the vote at Monday’s meeting, which will be of the virtual variety.

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