School buses sit in a lot at the South Bend Community School Corp.’s transportation department in a Tribune file photo. The system is bracing to ask school district voters to approve a $74.8 million referendum in the spring. Without it, cuts will need to be made to the school’s operations. South Ben Tribune File Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA
School buses sit in a lot at the South Bend Community School Corp.’s transportation department in a Tribune file photo. The system is bracing to ask school district voters to approve a $74.8 million referendum in the spring. Without it, cuts will need to be made to the school’s operations. South Ben Tribune File Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA
SOUTH BEND — South Bend Community School Corp. leaders are reaching out to city residents to plead their case for more tax support. Without it, they say, multiple school buildings, including one high school, could close as soon as next year.

When they hit the polls in May, voters who live in the city school district’s boundaries will be asked to support — via increased property taxes — a referendum that would raise $74.8 million for the school system’s facilities and operations.

If the referendum fails, South Bend Superintendent Todd Cummings said the district will have to make “severe cuts to meet the financial obligations.”

No final decisions have been made yet, but school buildings could close. Teachers and other employees could lose their jobs as class sizes are forced to expand. And, multiple school programs, including athletics, fine arts and Career and Technical Education could be “scaled back” or eliminated completely, according to “working” documents provided to The Tribune from the district.

If the referendum passes, teachers and principals could get raises, more counselors and social workers could be put in schools and new programs could be added.

However, it’s too early in the process to know exactly what will happen in either scenario, Cummings said. All suggestions so far are “working ideas” that have come from conversations with school board members, administrative staff and district teachers, parents and students and business and nonprofit leaders.

“There are some big, bold, risky things that, while they would be exciting at the end of the day, they are just ideas,” the superintendent told The Tribune. “Until we have finalized all the numbers and until the board approves it, this all will remain just that, an idea.”
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