Clay community brings up questions and concerns about the future of Clay High School

NOW: Clay community brings up questions and concerns about the future of Clay High School

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The South Bend schools' community had four more chances to weigh in on plans to ‘rightsize’ and restructure South Bend schools and cut costs. More than 50 people attended the public meeting at Jackson Middle School Wednesday evening, and Clay International Academy saw about the same turnout; many came to learn more about the different options on the table and address their concerns about Clay High School being shut down.

Here’s why that’s being discussed; reports from the district show that more students that live in the Clay boundary actually attend Adams High School, not Clay. They add that Clay is considered an under-utilized facility. There is no feeder middle school sending students to Clay, resulting in a decline in enrollment.

In two out of the three scenarios being weighed out in the Master Plan, vacating Clay High School is a possibility, which is being met with mixed reactions.

“You start decreasing or tearing down schools and churches, you affect neighborhoods,” says Robert Smith, a retired educator of over 45 years who attended Wednesday’s meeting. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at right now.”

The possibility of shutting down Clay has many parents, faculty, and others in the Clay community upset. Many of them voiced concerns during Wednesday’s meeting; saying their wants and needs, and the history of the school, are being overlooked.

“A lot of their proposals are well-founded, don’t get me wrong,” Smith says. “But they’re not rooted in the past.

It’s a hard pill to swallow for those who grew up in Clay Schools, like Clay graduate Bill Loeffer who was in attendance.

“If you’re going to destroy it, then destroy all of them and close them all down and call it South Bend Central High School, then there’s no hardship,” Loeffler suggests.

Some see the move as beneficial in order to consolidate and benefit the attendance in South Bend schools in the long run; others that spoke up say it would drive them away from the district.

“A lot of these parents are going to seek grass greener somewhere else,” suggests Smith.

“I think they need to go back to the drawing board,” Loeffler says.

Wednesday was the last chance to attend an in-person community meeting to discuss the plan, but you can join virtual meetings from February 13th- 17th through the online survey on SBCSC’s website.

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