South Bend School Board approves, enters new agreement with Purdue Polytechnic High School

NOW: South Bend School Board approves, enters new agreement with Purdue Polytechnic High School

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - On Monday, the South Bend School Board voted to enter a new partnership with Purdue Polytechnic High School.

District officials say it’s an agreement that will mutually benefit both institutions and their students, while still allowing for autonomy in the services and education the charter school provides.

It’s called an Innovation Agreement, essentially the school board decided that they’d like to work with Purdue Polytechnic rather than against, putting the charter school under the umbrella of the south bend school corporation.

It’s something SBCSC Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings says has been in the works for five years now, when Purdue Polytechnic began operating in the Studebaker building in South Bend.

Since then, Purdue Polytechnic and South Bend Schools have been completely separate, but now as of Monday night, the new agreement will allow the two to work together to bring in students to the district and share services like extracurricular activities and food services.

But it’s also a necessary step for South Bend Schools to embrace the inevitable future of more and more charter schools.

District officials say a state law passed last year made it a requirement for districts in Saint Joseph County to share funding with charter schools in 2025, so when the next referendum comes around in four years, a large chunk of that money could possibly go to charter schools.

Through this agreement, officials say the corporation would pay Purdue Polytechnic $500 per student that wants to go there, using less referendum money now rather than more later.

“One of the things we try and keep in mind is charter schools have consistently expanded in Saint Joseph County with or without South Bend Schools' involvement,” explains Rafi Nolan-Abrahamian, Chief of Staff at SBCSC. “But also, ultimately we do have to figure out what does a system look like in which we have looser ties and maybe less control than we have currently, but we still treat those as public schools and public school students that deserve district support.”

There was some backlash to the agreement, two school board members didn’t like the fact that the corporation is essentially giving money to a charter school, rather, they believe the board should be focusing on bringing in students to South Bend’s public schools.

There were also concerns voiced from members of Save Clay Inc, who think this partnership will block the Career Academy Network from moving into the Clay High School building.

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