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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With the number of students in South Bend Community Schools going down over the last two decades, school district leaders are being faced with tough decisions on how to move ahead.

One of those decisions involved the future of South Bend Clay High School, which outside consultants have officially recommended to the school board that they close within the next four years.

Since 2007, SBCSC has seen a drop in enrollment throughout the whole district by about 4,000 students. In like manner that means fewer students are enrolled at the district’s high schools. The school district brought in consultants with Fanning Howey and HPM to look into solutions on how to address under-enrollment at South Bend schools.

“Just the overall community voice and the number of meetings we’ve had, it’s been extensive throughout this whole process,” said Scott Leopold, a consultant with the district’s facility planning team. “If you choose to keep Clay open, it’s going to cost you $16 million over the next five years.”

Leopold said with enrollment below 60-percent at Clay, that would not be a good return on investment in the school. He recommends closing Clay High School as well as Warren Elementary School by 2027. That, he says, will better distribute students throughout the district.

If that were to happen it would reduce the number of high schools in South Bend from four to three.

Furthermore, he says it would protect the district from proposed state legislation that could force school districts to close schools with below 60-percent enrollment, which is also impacting South Bend Riley and South Bend Washington High Schools as well.

There was a lot of public outcry against the recommendations at a school board meeting Monday night. Many current Clay students and parents spoke fervently that they want district leaders to find a way to keep Clay open.

The school board could vote to adopt the plan at its next meeting on April 17th.