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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Schools may look a little different next year in South Bend are likely to close in the coming months if the school board approves a plan to close two elementary schools.

The plan would be to close Hay and Tarkington Elementary Schools in the spring and create an “innovation zone” at two other under-performing elementary schools.

Though the plan makes sense from a dollars and cents standpoint, according to Supt. Todd Cummings. He added that the plan is based solely on academic performance. He said right now many South Bend students are lacking in that regard.

“My commitment is to ensure that every student goes to a high performing school and is able to participate,” Cummings said to the South Bend School Board Tuesday.

“This is specifically focused on academics, he continued. “Ensuring that we can take resources, put them where they’re most needed, and open up opportunities for every single one of our students.”

Cummings compared the plan to one of a similar nature in Indianapolis, where Indianapolis Public Schools closed a few schools a few years ago and restructured a few things to better ensure academic performance. He also qualified financial benefits of the plan as well.

“We just raised teacher salaries to $41,000 as a base, the highest in the region,” he said. “It takes closures and cuts to sustain that. We want to ensure our non-certified staff are also making at least $15 an hour.”

Cummings said closing Hay and Tarkington, both of which are operating at under 60-percent capacity (without pandemic restrictions), the district will have cut enough spending to keep up with those goals of jump-starting academic performance and paying teachers and staff an adequate salary.