South Bend Schools Superintendent discusses proposed referendum

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—South Bend Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings on Thursday morning discussed a million-dollar referendum that will be on the ballot in May that is part of a larger eight-year financial plan to stabilize the district.

“We’re asking taxpayers on May 5 to vote yes to support teachers, to support students being college and career ready, and to support safety and security upgrades in all of our buildings,” Cummings said.

School leaders are hosting public forums around the referendums ahead of the May vote, where community members can ask questions and voice their concerns.

The first meeting was held Wednesday night at Washington High School.

If passed, the referendum will increase property taxes for homeowners about 39 cents for every $100 of assessed value.

Cummings added that if the referendum is not passed, there will be bigger classes sizes, fewer teachers, and more buildings will close.

“Our success is linked to the success of the city,” Cummings said.

Critics of the referendum said that they don’t support it due to a lack of transparency from the school district.

One homeowner said she needs to see a “more clearly cut plan from district leaders” for where the money is going to go.

Upcoming referendum public forums are as follows:

  • 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at Mount Carmel Church, 1620 S. St Joseph St.
  • 5:30-7 p.m. March 11 at Charles Black Center, 3419 W. Washington St.
  • 5:30-7 p.m. March 12 at Civil Rights Heritage Center, 1040 W. Washington St.
  • 12:30-2 p.m. March 14 at Howard Park, 219 S. St Louis Blvd.

As for the current state of the district, Cummings said South Bend Schools is a “C” rated district, and said he knows there’s a lot of work to be done.

“We need to make sure every student is reading on grade level and we need to make sure that we’re retaining the great teachers that we have," Cummings said.

Over the next few years, Cummings said the district is focusing on literacy, a dual associate’s degree with a high school diploma, and nutrition among other initiatives.

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