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School urges quick decision

The Crossing leader hopes partnership plan will be agreed to soon. By ERIN BLASKO Tribune Staff Writer Article Posted: June 23, 2009 SOUTH BEND — Rob Staley, executive director of The Crossing, urged South Bend school board members on Monday to act quickly on a proposal to partner with the alternative school, preferably as soon as the board’s next meeting, July 6. Whether that happens likely depends on whether school board members’ concerns about such an arrangement are adequately addressed in that time. At Monday’s meeting, following a presentation by Staley, board members peppered the executive with questions for nearly an hour. Several members asked for clarification about The Crossing’s faith-based mission, and whether it precludes it from receiving federal funds. Staley explained the school is rooted in Christianity but open to all religions and even non-believers. He said attorneys for other school corporations that have partnered with The Crossing have thoroughly studied the issue and found no conflicts. “I guess some of the questions that keep poppin’ up for me,” board member William Sniadecki said, “is how do you justify — considering The Crossing is a private school — how do you justify public school funding for a private school?” Staley explained services provided by The Crossing would be considered contracted services, and that students enrolled at the school would be counted as South Bend schools students. The two would be partners, he said. Board members Dawn Jones and Stephanie Spivey wondered about hiring practices and whether students would be safe at the school. Staley said the school performs background checks on all staff members and “will not be hiring anybody with a criminal record in South Bend.” Furthermore, he said The Crossing carries liability insurance for both students and staff. Spivey also questioned how the school selects students, with Staley’s response eliciting some chuckles. “If you have a pulse and are breathing, you are invited and enrolled, and I’m serious about that,” Staley said. Staff writer Erin Blasko: (574) 235-6187  —- View South Bend Tribune Article: Click Here]]>