Incoming SBCSC superintendent addresses concerns within the district
SOUTH BEND, Ind. –
South Bend Community School Corporation is just over six weeks away from new leadership. Dr. Todd Cummings will take over as superintendent on July 1.
“We’re going to figure out what works for folks so that they can share what’s on their minds,” said Cummings.
He says keeping an open line of communication is one of his top priorities. So much so that he plans to host “Talks with Todd” regularly after taking over as superintendent.
“To make sure I’m available, and my cabinet is available to answer people’s questions and be able to cut through the bureaucracy,” he said.
Those talks will be set up at restaurants or schools to talk with parents about concerns. He’s already done some about the transformation zone at Navarre Middle School.
“There seems to be a common thread about how we’re going to manage data. How we don’t get into this position again, and how autonomy is going to work,” he said about parent’s concerns regarding the transformation zone.
His solution is to hire quality staff and give them the tools to succeed.
“When you hire highly qualified teachers and highly qualified principals and give them autonomy and support, amazing things will happen, and I believe that’s what we’ve done,” said Cummings.
He also addressed transportation, as multiple parents have complained in recent years that buses aren’t picking up their kids on time or at all.
“I just want to point out that our transportation data is the best it’s been in three years,” said Cummings.
That’s data that he says he monitors every day.
“It’s on a dashboard on my desk,” he said. “We can see where buses are, how many calls are getting returned, how many calls are waiting. We’re monitoring that to make tweaks, do we need more people answering phones? Because we want to hear when parents are calling.”
And he says with moving nearly 17 thousand students every day, there are bound to be glitches.
“There are going to be glitches and as superintendent, we’re monitoring that data and we want to see those glitches continue to subside,” said Cummings.
He added that although the data is headed in a positive direction, he still wants to hear both the good and the bad from parents.
There are also recent questions of disciplinary action for students who record fights inside school walls or who share that video with others.
“Social media is an issue in our schools now, and we have to adapt,” said Cummings. “Our new chief equity officer that we’ve hired is going to take code of conduct on the road. We’re going to engage families, teachers, and students. We’re going to train our principals, and we’re going to make sure that everyone is working from the same code of conduct playbook. There are things that need to be updated, and we’re going to tackle that the beginning of the summer.”
As for specific student cases the school says it can’t make any comments.
But every student is given student due process, and that means no student can immediately be expelled for breaking a rule. That student has to be notified what rule was broken and given a chance to respond.
Cummings says he feels the South Bend Community School District is poised to grow and improve and he’s encouraging community input to help take it to the next level.