South Bend City School Corporation teachers frustrated over district's budget woes

NOW: South Bend City School Corporation teachers frustrated over district’s budget woes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- South Bend City Schools Corporation announced the plan for the 2022 school budget and teachers in the district are upset by the proposal. They feel disappointed by the lack of investment in educators. 

One teacher who spoke up to the school board announced that she was "saddened by the situation in our corporation."

Another spoke up, and demanded that the board took action.

After the referendum vote last year, South Bend city schools were promised to have more money in the budget, raising teacher salaries, giving more stipends and providing funding for programs to fight learning loss. 

However, the numbers are not heading in the right direction. 

The referendum added $6.7 million to next year's budget, but South Bend Schools is committing $7.4 million to educator raises and support salaries-- meaning even with the money, the district is over budget. 

Linda Lucy, president of the South Bend teacher's union, said "We'd like the board to look at the current budget. We believe our teachers need to be well paid, we need them to look at the referendum money and the money that was promised to our community tax payers.”

Because the school district is over budget, Chief Financial Officer Kareemah Fowler said there will need to be cuts. 

The district projects a loss of students in 2022, meaning a loss in revenue. Even with less students, some schools may need to be right-sized-- meaning larger classroom sizes. 

SBCSC already closed two schools last year. Today, the district said it only saved $240,000. 

Teachers are upset, saying they are being overworked, and despite the salary raise, they are still under-compensated, working an extra eighty minutes a day.

“I would rather have teachers be well paid," said Lucy. "And I would like to have teachers want to work here, and be attracted to work here.”

A student who attended the meeting said the money being spent on new programs and new positions, would be better spent on existing jobs.

“They don’t need to be making these payments on, say, chromebooks and virtual learning," said Ethan Luster, a Clay High sophomore. "They need actually be making the payment for people like the teachers.”

School Board member Jeanette McCollough called for an independent audit of the budget to see if the proposed cuts and right-sizting are the right option for South Bend schools. 

The budget is set to be voted on by the board on October 18th. 

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