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Support South Bend Schools' Focus 2018

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Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Last week, the South Bend Community School Corporation released its Focus 2018 plan that includes new grade configurations, new bell times for all levels and the closing and repurposing of several schools. I’m hoping the community rallies around this plan and supports the efforts leaders are making to improve the school system.

Businesses do things like this all the time. To stay competitive, it’s a requirement, not an option. Businesses must carefully analyze customer wants and needs and pivot to meet those needs or risk going out of business. Though it’s unlikely the school corporation would go out of business, it does need to make critical changes to better position itself among increasing competition.

The business community has a strong interest in what’s happening within the school corporation. In addition to preparing students for success in life, the corporation is also preparing students for success in their careers. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers.

Companies today are tuned into workers and either finding, attracting or developing top talent for their organizations. Companies realize how important a strong educational foundation is for a student and how that foundation will help influence success in the workforce.

The business community has partnered with the schools on Project Lead the Way and Manufacturing Day, and supported schools through financial contributions and volunteer commitments for things like classroom programming, extracurricular activities and building and facility improvements.

Good work by the corporation is critical to our region’s economic development efforts. Good schools are key to efforts to attract new people and new businesses to our region. It often is the top factor when people are considering a community.

We’ve long been concerned about the South Bend School Corporation and its performance. We know meaningful changes must be made within the system and that those changes will result in hard decisions to remain competitive with other school districts.

The business community recognizes that the educational landscape requires change now. We believe the Focus 2018 plan is bold and fiscally responsible. We believe it will improve student achievement, maximize instructional effectiveness, maintain racial diversity and address changing community demographics.

There will be opposition. We’ve already heard from some parents and students with concerns. It is impossible to develop a plan that 100 percent of the people will support. The school board must carefully weigh the pros and cons.

We believe waiting is not an option and will only cause the corporation and the students in it to fall further behind. We want South Bend to be a leader and we are convinced that changes like these will position the corporation for future success.

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Also published in the South Bend Tribune

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