South Bend Schools presents Facilities Master Plan recommendations to public

NOW: South Bend Schools presents Facilities Master Plan recommendations to public

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC) board officially heard recommendations from consulting firm HPM, which include closing down Clay High School and going down to three high schools in the district. 

From almost 22,000 students in 2007 to over 15,000 in 2023, school leaders say something needs to be done to “right-size” the district.   

HPM, the consulting firm managing this process for SBCSC has created its facilities master plan and shared it with the public Monday night. 

An effort to “right-size” the South Bend Community School Corporation culminated Monday in a formal recommendation from consulting partners to the school board.  

“Just the overall community voice and number of meetings we’ve had, it’s been extensive throughout this process,” said Scott Leopold, director of planning services for the firm. 

Ultimately architecture firm Fanning Howey and consulting partner HPM recommended the closure of Clay High School.  

“If you choose to keep Clay open, it’s going to cost $16.17 million over the next 5 years,” Leopold said, “and that means there are other projects that don’t get done.” 

The news was much to the dismay of many in the crowd Monday.  

“Clay has been done a disservice for far too long. Find a better way than closing it down,” one person said in front of the school board.  

“You need a find a way to save Clay, these students have found a home here. Many 8th graders are already here, working on sports for next year. People want to go here,” said another person in attendance.  

Recommendations also include facilitating clear “feeder patterns” from primary to secondary schools in the district.  

“Getting the feeder patterns, and getting good choices for elementary and middle school kids. Making sure their neighborhood school is a choice again,” said Tracy Richter, the vice president of planning services for HPM. “That you don’t have to go to a magnet to get a great education at south bend schools.”  

Changes would start as soon as next school year, and the final graduating class from Clay, if it closes, will be in 2027.  

“The personal conversations that we’ve had across south bend to make this as transparent as we could, and to make sure every voice was heard in this were very important to us, and I think the community responded to that,” Richter said. “We know that this isn’t going to sit well with people out there, but we want them to know is how much we appreciate their participation in this process, and to continue their participation in the process.”  

Now that Fanning Hower and HPM resented their recommendations, it’s up to the school board.  

At the April 17th meeting, they can vote to adopt the plan as a living, guiding document for implementation.  

The full presentation of recommendations can be found below.  

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