"It's time to put a plan in place," superintendent talks solutions to bus, enrollment problems

NOW: “It’s time to put a plan in place,“ superintendent talks solutions to bus, enrollment problems

South Bend—

The first school year is officially in the rearview mirror for South Bend Community School’s newest superintendent.

Just months away from the start of round two, he’s making some crucial changes to the corporation’s future.

“I’ve learned that we have a hidden gem in this corporation, we have great teachers, great administrators but we just need to tell our story,” said Superintendent Kenneth Spells.

Telling the corporation’s story has been a top priority for Spells since taking office.

For years, PHM and School City of Mishawaka have aggressively targeted out-of-district students to enroll.

And that competition shows in the numbers.

The 2015 fall count showed 19,308 students attended the district.

The following year, 628 less were enrolled.

“It was a decrease but I’m pushing for an increase next year,” said Spells. “I gave a goal to all my administrators to bring in 10 extra students, so they’re working hard to bring in 10 new students.”

Spells says he leads by example.

He spent the majority of his tenure in the community, meeting families and hearing their concerns.

“Now it’s time to put plan into place,” said Spells.

One of those plans is addressing the district’s problems with busing.

The head of the district’s transportation laid out plans to reorganize the department during Monday’s school board meeting.

“Failure is not an option,” said Juan Martinez-Legus, transportation director. “We’re going to invest in our people to put their hearts into this. That’s how much this means, were going to succeed.”

That means nearly $25,000 in wage and salary increases for routers, dispatchers and engineers.

That also means the district will buy larger buses to accommodate more students and invest in newer technology for the vehicles.

Spells believes they are necessary changes that will help turn this district around.

“We want every kid to have the opportunity to reach their potential,” he said.

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