The South Bend (Ind.) school board has approved a plan to close or merge five schools and place fifth-graders on elementary school campuses.
The South Bend Tribune reports that the district's "Focus 2018" plan is a response to years of declining enrollment, which has left many buildings operating under capacity.
"I think the administration spent a lot of time putting together a well-thought-out plan," says board president Stan Wruble. "No one in the board is pleased to be closing schools; we don't want to be in that position, but given the climate we're facing, the administration did a good job."
As proposed in November, the plan will shutter Brown and Greene intermediate centers and the Eggleston building, which houses the Rise Up Academy alternative school.
Marshall Intermediate Center and Perley Primary Fine Arts Academy also will close, and their students will merge with other schools, though the buildings may have other uses in the future.
Fifth-graders will move back to primary campuses from intermediate schools. Primary and intermediate willl go back to being traditional elementary and middle schools. In addition, Clay Intermediate Center will be restructured as a K-8 International Baccalaureate magnet school.
The district's facility overhaul will have to comply with a standing federal government order that seeks to reduce racial segregation in South Bend schools. That consent decree, dating to 1981, requires each school's enrollment of black students to be within 15 percentage points of the corporation's overall racial makeup.