South Bend School Board approves Focus 2018 plan

South Bend School Board approves Focus 2018 plan. // WSBT 22 Photo

It's no longer just a proposal. It's a plan in motion.

The South Bend School Board unanimously approved Focus 2018. That plan proposes closing and re-purposing several schools.

There were times the meeting got heated Monday.

It's clear the impact of approving the plan wasn't lost on the board members or the public.

At some points, there were even tears in both the audience and from school leaders.

But in the end, the school board decided that Focus 2018 is the best option to mend the struggling district.

One by one parents approached the podium, a chance for one last plea to school board members before they voted on Focus 2018.

"They need all the teachers and all the love and all they can get, and they get that at Brown," said a concerned parent.

Many praising the hard work that went into drafting the proposal, but asking for amendments to certain parts of the all-encompassing plan.

"I am a momma bear and you're asking this momma bear to trust you with my children and trust that if I go over to Nuner, my kids are going to receive the same type of education that they're receiving at Perley," said one parent.

“As you've heard from other Perley families, what we are asking for is an extension. We are asking just to slow down the process," said a concerned parent.

Their comments didn't seem to fall on deaf ears. Before the vote, Board Member Rudy Monterossa asked the board to consider keeping Perley Fine Arts Students where they are for one more year.

Under the plan, they'll be moved to Nuner Primary Center.

He says he wanted to let families know he's listening.

"I thought it was important that if they wanted to be a part of the democratic process to be able to provide that amendment so that it can be discussed," said Monterossa.

But other board members say it wouldn't be fair.

"I cannot sit back and allow for one school to be open and we have all these other schools that have to make changes," said Lesley Wesley.

His amendment failed and in the end, the board unanimously passed Focus 2018.

"These decisions aren't always going to be popular decisions, but as long as we know these decisions are good for kids and we can provide more opportunity to kids. That's what I want to do as superintendent," said Kenneth Spells, superintendent SBCSC.

"The overarching theme for all of our board members is that we care about our students and we want them to receive a quality education," said Monterossa.

Now the Focus 2018 plan has to go to the Department of Justice to be approved, too.

Once that happens, Spells says they will begin to execute the plan. All of the changes proposed could start next year.

WSBT 22 News followed the board’s decision on Twitter:

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