The South Bend Community School Corp. school board voted Wednesday, 6-1, to approve an administrative recommendation to eliminate 64 teaching positions.
“The reason behind this reduction in force (request) is that the funding for these positions is tied to our Title I funds, which are federal dollars that come to the states and then on to the school corporations,” Superintendent Carole Schmidt said.
She said that the waiver that the state requested and received to be outside of federal No Child Left Behind requirements came with a set of rules and procedures that the district was not aware of until the end of last month.
“(The rules are) tied to the new state grading system, A through F,” Schmidt said. “Any school that receives a D or F must set aside some of that (Title I) money to be used for specific interventions.”
The district had to set aside those funds in case any school received a D or F grade, according to Schmidt.
“The intent was not to get rid of those positions just because we wanted to,” she said. “We know the value of those positions, and it is not our choice.
“To the extent that we can with the principals reinstate these positions, we will do that.”
Dustin Saunders, a South Bend resident, asked the board not to eliminate the 15 classroom support specialist positions. He said that the specialists play an important role in the classroom in working with parents.
Board member William Sniadecki, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said that too many instructional positions had already been eliminated even as the district continued adding central office staff.
Sniadecki noted the irony that the administration made the request to reduce classroom staff at the same time that students at Dickinson Intermediate Academy had the state's best improvement on their ISTEP scores“
We always take one step forward and two steps back,” he said. “What is this going to do to that school?”
The board also voted to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the district's anti-discrimination policy. The vote was unanimous. Derek McDowell and Angharad Hamlin both spoke in favor of the addition. McDowell is a recent Adams High School graduate and former member of the school's Queer-Straight Alliance. Hamlin, an Adams student, also belongs to the group.
McDowell said that he thought that the decision by the South Bend Common Council to pass a similar ordinance made passage by the school board easier.
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