To the South Bend School Board Part 1

Posted: March 10, 2010 in Schools, South Bend
Tags: ,

To the South Bend School Board,

It appears because of a decrease in funding from the state (meaning…”no fault of your own”), you are now in the unenviable position of having to cut 8.5 million dollars from the annual school budget.  8.5 million dollars!!!  Oh snap that’s a lot of mula!  You can at least find comfort in the fact that everyone else has to do the same thing.  At least we’re not alone.

According to Mitch Daniel’s office, it is a 3% reduction in the annual budget.  If 8.5 million dollars is just 3% of the total budget, that means the South Bend School budget is around $275 million.  Oh snap that’s a lot of mula!

First, let me say, there is no “win” for you in this if “win” is defined as “making everyone happy.”  And in this regard, I really am sympathetic.  There is NO WAY you are going to cut 8.5 million dollars without making someone somewhere unhappy.  And because of that, I can honestly say…I’m sympathetic to your situation and believe that levels of “happiness” in our community should simply not be your determining factor.  Good leaders accept this reality and attempt to lead and make decisions based on a greater vision and purpose.  But this is the crux of my concern.   I’ve not heard anyone on the board speak about exactly what the greater vision and purpose is (other than a balanced budget), and how that greater vision and purpose determines and guides the elimination of 8.5 million dollars.  If giving our children a quality education that can be quantified by test scores, disciplinary reports, and academic achievements, etc. is the vision and purpose (and I grant this is a big “if” with the school board), then can someone explain why closing a school that is doing JUST THAT is a wise decision?

I would like to offer you more than just criticism, so I tried to find a published budget of the SBCSC to see where I, Sam Barrington, would cut in regards to spending.  I couldn’t find it.  (At the top of my head I imagined the astronomical amount of spending going to busing kids from every corner of our community to another corner at ALL times of the day!)  Do you know where I can go to get a copy of the budget?

In the end, based on your own statistics, closing a primary center is a savings of only $360,000. While that is a lot of money to me, compared to 8.5 million – not so much.  I would ask you to consider the massive disruption to students, staff, faculty, parents, and families that will occur by closing Hamilton to save $360,000.

OK…I have more…but no one is going to keep reading this blog post because of its length.  But…I have more…I’ll write you again soon 🙂



  1. Doug says:

    I noticed with some sadness that some of those who were commenting on the story in the Trib were bashing Monroe in their effort to make the case to not shut down Hamilton.

  2. I haven’t read the comments…typically don’t because they just make me angry. BUT…so not OK with any bashing of Monroe in this regards. LOVE Monroe!! Love Jill, Sharon, the faculty and staff there. I’ll write a post sometime in regards to the idea that Monroe has to be bashed to argue for Hamilton. And if Hamilton is closed, Alex will go to Monroe…and I’ll do my best to persuade parents at Hamilton to do likewise and invest themselves at Monroe every bit as much as they have at Hamilton.

  3. tim says:

    Well done Sam! VISION…you are so right…that really got my attention in your post…the lack of vision that we have right now. Dr. Raymond OFTEN got BLASTED for PLAN Z…at times I disagreed with her. (Like when I got laid off when she and the board cut the music program) BUT there was a key word there…”PLAN” Z! We were heading forward…moving toward a greater vision. OUR COMMUNITY NEEDS THAT MORE THAN EVER! HEY…appreciate that you are looking for solutions too, not just fighting for your cause!!

  4. Lorinda says:

    With 600 children going to go to Monroe, I’m afraid that children with different abilities mine would get lost. I’m thinking McKinley or Perley

  5. the other ed says:

    I find it sad that education is being cut. What is sadder is how it seems to get cut EVERY year!. I remember news stories talking about cutting 65 million from education…next story, the 65 million dollar road project is beginning…and how many times do we need to work on capital?

    I am just saying, we talk about our kids not testing well while we let our leadership cut school resources every year. Several of my kids teachers are buying school supplies out of their own money, and they spend more than they should, but because of an already tight budget, they can’t afford it! Surely we can find the money somewhere…I am sure something besides education can be cut…

  6. The Bishop says:

    It seems to me that, lost in all of the fervor over budget cuts and moving students hither and yon to achieve short-term results is the fact that we are reaping the consequences of political correctness.

    I well remember about 30 years ago a superintendent was brought to the South Bend Community School Corporation for the sole purpose of inaugurating the busing of kids to various schools to achieve a sanctioned racial mix, as if that were going to solve whatever was lacking in the schools and education of any part of our community. I sat in a meeting held at the old Riley High School with my wife as we listened to every single parent, both African-American and white, protest the busing based on racial quotas rather than saving their neighborhood schools. There’s no question that improvements in the public education sector was needed, but busing was not the solution.

    Now, who knows how much it is costing the taxpayer to bus students far from their neighborhoods to schools and how much that tremendous cost is fueling the budget crunch. And so the solution? Shuffle kids some more outside of their neighborhoods. And the beat goes on. Rather than address the root cause of school performance deficiencies, we lower the bar a little more with each solution and the ultimate victims are our students.

    Neighborhoods who strongly support their schools, as we are witnessing at Hamilton, will go a long way in improving the educational results emanating from those schools. There is no apparent vision in any of the current argument except bandaging a budget (which I am pretty sure is in need of major surgery).

  7. The Bishop says:

    One last illustration of our penchant for political correctness and the lemming response (true story):

    A woman with a petition went among the crowds attending a state fair, asking people to sign her petition demanding the banning of dihydroxymonoxide. She said it was in our lakes and streams, and now it was in our sweat and urine and tears. She collected hundreds of signatures to ban dihydroxymonoxide —

    a fancy chemical name for water.

  8. Melissa says:

    To quote the Bishop, “Neighborhoods who strongly support their schools, as we are witnessing at Hamilton, will go a long way in improving the educational results emanating from those schools.” What happens to the schools that aren’t strongly supported by the neighborhood?

  9. The Bishop says:

    That’s where school leadership comes into play. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Instead of investing in busing routes and demographic equilibrium, there should be in investment in leadership and encouraging neighborhood ownership. Excellence cannot be legislated.

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