March 30, 2022

Editorial Board of South Bend Tribune: How a vague, overly broad state law can hurt South Bend schools

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Indiana has a law on the books that allows charter schools to walk away with publicly owned real estate for just a dollar. The South Bend Tribune notes just how bad this is as they examine the most recent invoking of the law.

The efforts by a charter school to stop the planned move of the South Bend school district into different office space — taking advantage of a controversial law — could set a precedent in Indiana.

It wouldn’t be a good one, for the school district and others across the state.

Under the state law in question, public school districts like South Bend have to notify state officials of certain unused property. That’s because charter schools in the state have the right to buy or lease unused public school buildings for $1.

The two school buildings in question are the downtown administration building, which the school district plans to sell to the city of South Bend; and Brown Community Learning Center, where it plans to move after the sale and a renovation.

South Bend school leaders have said they can save $400,000 annually in operating expenses by selling the administration building. City officials have said they can save $270,000 in annual operating costs by moving out of the County-City Building.

But those plans have been threatened after complaints by South Bend’s Career and Success Academy, which also has interest in the Brown building. The state attorney general’s office recently backed the charter school’s complaints, finding that the district had violated state law.

Which leads to this burning question: Why did Indiana lawmakers pass an overly broad law that hamstrings school districts?

Read the full editorial here.

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