South Bend School Board approves Hay, Tarkington Elementary closures

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:18 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend School Board has voted to close two of its elementary schools.

After much discussion, the South Bend School Board has voted 4 to 3 for the shutdown of Hay Elementary and 5 to 2 for that of Tarkington Elementary at the end of this academic year.

“There is never a good time to close a school, but it’s also not fair to continually push it down the road and expect improvement without reallocating our resources,” Assistant Superintendent Rafi Nolan-Abrahamian said.

According to the district, Hay is currently using less than 50% of its capacity and Tarkington less than 60%.

“We have nearly 31% of our space that we pay for heat, lights, electricity and maintenance on. That money can be better used by putting the resources into teachers and to students, not on empty buildings,” Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said.

Students currently at Hay will attend either Monroe, Harrison, Wilson, Madison or Marshall Elementary.

Students at Tarkington now will attend either Darden or Swanson Elementary.

“The only way we are going to be able to right-size and redesign is that we have to look at our checkbook and be able to put those dollars into our children,” School Board Member Leslie Wesley said.

Several concerned community members submitted comments against the closures and neither vote was unanimous.

“I personally can’t support this, and I would most emphatically agree that this should at least be tabled,” School Board Member Oletha Jones said.

But the board ultimately decided to move forward with both closures.

Redesign plans for Marquette Montessori and Muessel Elementary were also a focus of Monday’s meeting, and the board is set to vote on that matter next Monday.

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