SBCSC releases results of parent survey for Facilities Master Plan

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - In less than a week, the South Bend School Board will receive a recommendation on right-sizing the district’s facilities.

The third-party expert opinion will come at a meeting scheduled for Monday at Clay High School.

That third-party opinion will take into account the opinions of students, staff, and parents who filled out surveys.

The latest patron opinion survey summary was released at a community meeting last night.

There were a lot of numbers to sift through and one big fat fact to face: “I can promise you we’re not going to have a recommendation everyone’s going to like,” said Scott Leopold with HPM. “Our goal is to get people to the point where I may not agree or support with what you’re recommending, but I understand the process and how you got there.”

50% of survey respondents support keeping the status quo—by keeping all four South Bend high schools open.

30% support going to three high schools by presumably closing Clay.

Only 12% support the idea of going to two high schools by closing Clay and making Riley into a middle school.

The experts interpret those figures to mean that there is support for closing a high school since persons affiliated with Clay made up 36% of all survey respondents, although the school has just 14% of the district’s high school enrollment.

“I think that there is acknowledgment that something needs to happen. There’s just anxiety about it happening to them,” said Leopold. “I think people realize we need to right-size the district, just don’t do it with their school.”

While the recommendation on the long-term future of facilities is scheduled for Monday, the school board is not expected to vote on the plan until a meeting on April 17.

“Like, we’re trying to right-size the district so that we’re not spending money on utilities and empty buildings, that we can get more dollars into the classroom,” Leopold said. “We want to make sure that we’re spending more money on programming, things that enhance the schools. It’s not fun to, you know, heat buildings that we’re not using or fix roofs that are leaking that we’re not using.”