South Bend School Board and the New High Tech High School

Posted: August 19, 2009 in Schools, South Bend

Monday night the collective geniuses, also known as the South Bend School Board, got together and based on finances decided to vote 4-3 against beginning a new High Tech School in the corporation.  The proposed site was the Studebaker building (which I was rooting for if no other reason than exposure from the city to the neighborhood and the dilapidated and abandoned homes RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET).  The decision was based on money.  And, it may have been the right decision given the lack of funds.  What is interesting is in the audience was Chris Murphy, the chairman and CEO of 1st Source Bank who was going to begin the project with $200,000 and a pledge to network with others to raise another $2 million to see the New High Tech School take off.  After witnessing the inept leadership of the school board, he walked away thinking even if he had $2 million he wouldn’t entrust it to this group.

Do you think electing our school board members is a good idea?

Here is the WNDU report from their website:

Chris Murphy, chairman and CEO of 1st Source Bank, came to Monday’s board meeting ready to give more than $200,000 and help raise $2 million for New Tech High. But the school board voted against the project.

“I had hoped that they would approve New Tech High,” said Murphy, who didn’t announce his reason for attending Monday’s board meeting.

“I chose not to speak at the beginning of the meeting because I didn’t want that to influence any of the board members,” said Murphy.

Initially, he said, he planned to help out if the vote went in favor of the New Tech high school. Murphy says the money he planned to donate, on behalf of 1st Source bank and another foundation, would have enabled the project to get through its first phase and first year.

Murphy also said he planned to lead a community effort to raise $2 million more to fund the program going forward.

“There was general agreement among the community leadership that we needed something like this very badly,” he said.

But after watching board members go back and forth on the issue, Murphy says he was unimpressed with their general level of understanding and conduct.

“After watching the school board the other night I wouldn’t want any part of it,” said Murphy.

Murphy says the project could work better as a charter school – an idea proposed by board member Roger Parent.

Parent distributed a memo last week that outlined a contingency plan. If the school board voted down the New Tech High School, he would go forward with a project outside the school corporation.

Parent says he’s just getting started with that plan. The earliest the school could open would be 2011, he said.

  1. The Bishop says:

    Enlightened leadership and democratic elections are most often mutually exclusive. The irony is that after decades of funding “progressive” educational theories, there is less education than during the 50s and 60s of the last century. Education in the trades was a fundamental part of high school in the mid-60s and was a staple of the high school curriculum. No more! Memorizing long passages from Shakespeare is part of my best memories of the 8th grade, but I think that probably Will and the trades have been sacrificed on the altar of social sensibilities. Am I wrong?

  2. Melissa says:

    Education in the trades was part of the curriculum because that’s where the jobs were. Now, it’s technology. If the leaders of our community are coming forward and saying they need students to get this sort of education to be fit for the workforce, the school board should listen. Otherwise, they’re doing a poor job preparing our children to be successful after graduation. By the way, art, literature, and music are all important and should be a vital part of the curriculum as well. People who are well rounded and able to think in a variety of ways make better citizens.

  3. Doug says:

    I think it is interesting how other board members responded: Bill Sniadecki says, “Mr. Parent sent out a letter quoting he probably would initiate starting up a New Tech, which I think is a conflict of interest and he should resign.”

    Roger Parent says, “I ran for school board to help provide world class schools in South Bend, Indiana.”

    Makes you wonder what other factors besides money are motivating the decision…

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