SBCSC supports empowerment zone changes to Navarre and Coquillard

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Community members responded Monday to a controversial move that would give teachers at Navarre Middle School and Coquillard Elementary School a $10,000 stipend next year.

16 News Now learned more about the future of the South Bend Empowerment Zone from Monday evening's school board meeting.

Teachers at Navarre and Coquillard can expect a $10,000 stipend next year, as long as they earn they're position back and are OK with not being a part of the teachers union.

While the idea faced backlash from the union earlier this week, many spoke in favor the empowerment zone and it's changes.

"For a lot of these kids, in order for them to be successful, they need great teaching," former Navarre wrestling coach Eric McDaniel said.

"This is a new beginning. Change is definitely hard for a lot of people. Unfortunately, change is inevitable. Our system is broken and, yes, it needs fixing," Latin American Chamber of Commerce President Juan Hernandez said.

The zone's chief says this move is necessary to improve two of South Bend's poorest-performing schools.

"Those raises for teachers are really about giving our highest-need schools more to be able to shift outcomes for our students in those schools. We are comprised of five schools, and three of our schools are still a part of [National Education Association of] South Bend. We are looking forward to continuing to collaborate and work with them to continue to improve outcomes in those schools as well," South Bend Empowerment Zone chief Dr. Cheryl Camacho said.

While the school corporation has no influence on zone decisions, they still support them.

"What you saw tonight, more conversation. Conversation with the zone and with teachers as they work through their own internal process and just us reaffirming our commitment to them. So I'm looking forward to us supporting them, and them as they have conversations with teachers and the NEA," Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said.

"On behalf of our schools in the zone, and as one board member, I'm sure we will do all we can to support you in any way we can," Board Member Oletha Jones said.

No one from the union or those opposed to the empowerment zone decision spoke at the meeting.

Be sure to stay with us as we continue to hear both sides on this issue.