Clay Township group proposes plan to start a new district outside of South Bend Schools

NOW: Clay Township group proposes plan to start a new district outside of South Bend Schools

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.,--For months, the South Bend Community School Corporation has sought public input for the district’s Facilities Master Plan, but the most recent plan is causing some schools wanting to break up with the district.

Some community members have long thought about creating a New Clay Township School Corporation for years, and after the district announced its Facilities Master Plan, a group has released their own plans to leave the district. Clay residents like Josh Gobel want to reinvest in the community.

“We just don’t have the enrollment numbers, and the people of Clay Township are taking their kids elsewhere to get an education, and we don’t think that has to be the case,” said Gobel.

South Bend Schools released its Facilities Master Plan, two of the three options include shutting down Clay High School to create space for either a career and technical center or athletic practice and competition facility. But many Clay alumni, like Gobel, want a different option.

“There are other options other than what was presented,” said Gobel. “Our option is the best option for Clay Township schools, Clay Township residents and Clay Township students.”

The proposed district consists of Clay High School, Clay International Academy, Darden Elementary and Swanson Elementary. Community organizers, like Clay High School alumnus, Patrick Malloy, think the split could be beneficial for everyone in the long run.

“We think this could be a very amicable situation that sets families and students up in Clay Township for long-term success,” said Malloy. “And also allows South Bend Schools to right-size themselves and become an elite urban school district, which I think is what they aspire to become anyhow.”

Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings responded to the plan saying:

“The Board and I welcome input on strategies that advance the district’s long-term goals from everyone, but especially from alumni of South Bend Schools.

As you know, we are in the process of developing a comprehensive long-range plan to maximize use of the district’s buildings. Our Clay Township schools are integral to accomplishing the district’s priorities and, to that end, I envision those schools remaining within South Bend Schools. We are very proud of our students and staff in the Fine Arts magnet. You are certainly welcome to attend the community meetings that are scheduled to receive input on the facilities planning process. Additional information regarding the process and the community meetings is available at https://www.sb.school/facilities_master_plan

You are also welcome to attend our Board meetings where there are opportunities for public input on important topics and ideas like those you suggest.

But organizers still want to be separate from the district and plan to present their proposal at the Facilities Master Plan meeting Wednesday night.

“We want people to know that there could be another option,” said Malloy. “We want to do this in partnership with South Bend that sets both Clay Township and the city up for long-term success.”

The organizers want this to be an amicable split and hope to work something out with the district, not against it.

The Board is meeting with community members for input on the Facilities Master Plan at the Roger B Francis branch of the St. Joseph County library at 5:30 Wednesday night.

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