SBCSC board unanimously approves transformation plan for Navarre

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan it hopes will reverse the fortunes of a failing Navarre Middle School.

"The board did really important work tonight for students of South Bend,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said.

The South Bend Empowerment Zone will be a transformation zone to help improve the low performances of Navarre and its four feeder elementary schools.

If approved by the Indiana State Board of Education on Wednesday, the empowerment zone would be implemented starting July 1.

“The transformation zone talks about stabilizing the buildings in Year 1, and then Year 2, that's when teachers and building leaders come together to really transform the building,” Cummings said.

It would create an autonomy that would allow the principals and a teacher leadership team to control the curriculum and the overall environment of the school.

“I think that this new empowerment zone is going to be a great opportunity for our students in the 3rd District to really get the resources that they need and that we've been asking for,” Trustee Leslie Wesley said.

Wesley will be one member of the South Bend Empowerment Zone Board, which will also consist of Cummings, Board President John Anella and four community members.

“I'm excited about the fact that we're going to be able to get more resources now in that district and pour those resources into Navarre Intermediate Center,” Wesley said.

Wesley got emotional during Monday’s meeting, apologizing to those in the 3rd District for the state of Navarre.

“It's emotional for me, because I care about the children,” Wesley said. “I care about the families in the 3rd District.”

Cummings plans on announcing a new principal for Navarre at the next board meeting in May.

As for the teachers currently at Navarre:

“Those who want to stay get to stay and commit,” Cummings said. “Those who want to opt out get put in the displacement pool, so they can go and find jobs in other places in the district.”

Cummings will also be conducting a national search for a zone leader of the five schools, comparing the position to a mini superintendent.

Cummings will present the South Bend Empowerment Zone to the Indiana State Board of Education Wednesday for a vote. During Monday’s meeting, Cummings said he would be shocked if the state board did not approve the plan.