South Bend Schools keeps control of Clay High building, moves forward with downtown career hub

NOW: South Bend Schools keeps control of Clay High building, moves forward with downtown career hub

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend Community School Corporation secured control over the future of the Clay High School Building.

In a nearly split decision, the Board of Trustees allowed the corporation to find a new use for the soon-to-be closed building.

The vote didn't lock down an exact use, but should keep it from being bought for $1 by a private school under a controversial Indiana Law that requires public schools to give up unused buildings.

There has been at least one charter school that said it would like to buy the Clay High building.

Also in Monday night's meeting, the school board approved the old Studebaker building downtown as the site of a new, stand-alone career hub.

It's the planned home for the school corporation's Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, where students learn hands-on skills with direct pipelines to job opportunities.

There were concerns voiced from both the public and some board members over whether it will be used with declining enrollment and worries about leasing the building instead of owning it.

The board, however, still approved the $18.5 million development.

The hub is planned to occupy nearly 40,000 square feet on the second and third floors of the Studebaker building.

It would serve as a center for all CTE students to go for hands-on training that goes beyond the typical classroom like welding, robotics, and culinary arts.

The fine details of the lease agreement are the next steps for the plan, but South Bend Schools expects a 20-year lease of the space where they are free to renovate and improve the space for the purpose of the career hub.

“This has been a lot of hard work by a lot of folks in the district and it’s the right thing to do to do for the region," says Superintendent of South Bend Schools, Dr. Todd Cummings. "It’s the first time ever that the regions had a central career hub where all the schools can participate together and tonight was a turning point, it was the next step in making that happen.”

The corporation will now work to fine tune the details of the lease agreement, which needs to go before a public hearing and will be up for a vote in April, with a tentative soft groundbreaking for the career hub in May.

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