Muncie schools need to remain under local control
A last-minute effort to enable a state takeover, including both fiscal and academic control, of Muncie schools emerged this week as the deadline looms for final passage of bills.
This extreme step was taken despite opposition from Muncie school and community leaders, as well as area legislators.
In an amendment to SB 567, Rep. Tim Brown (R – Crawfordsville) calls for Muncie Community Schools (MCS) to be taken over by an emergency manager. The bill originally dealt with state assistance for the deeply troubled Gary schools, which requested state help.
The emergency manager would have the authority to take drastic steps without meaningful input from the elected school board or superintendent, including adopting a new annual budget, cutting salaries, firing school staff or implementing reduction-in-force measures and renegotiating labor contracts.
This move for a state takeover comes just days after a state investigator sided with the Muncie Teachers Association in their two-year dispute with Muncie schools over drastic pay cuts.
In evaluating Muncie’s finances, the same investigator found that MCS, “did realize a budgetary surplus in FY 2016 in the amount of approximately $4,094,581 and will enjoy an additional surplus of approximately $1,907,176 in FY 2017 [note: due to teacher concessions in the last best offer]. Together these surpluses, managed appropriately, constitute approximately 60 percent of the $11 million deficit identified by MCS.”
The bill would call for a chief financial officer and a chief academic officer to be hired by the emergency manager, while the local superintendent is retained without a real role or authority.
While there is always room for improvement, Muncie Community Schools have consistently passing academic performance and a graduation rate above the state average.
By all accounts, the entire community has come together to solve its own problems and respectfully asks the General Assembly to grant them the time needed to accomplish both a positive and local, community-based set of solutions.
Groups working together include the mayor’s office, Muncie Community Schools, Muncie Chamber of Commerce, Muncie Teachers Association, MCS Parent Teacher Organization and Delaware County Chapter of ICPE.
We are calling on legislators to remove Muncie Community Schools from state takeover in SB 567 and allow Muncie schools and their community to retain local control.
To contact your legislator to oppose SB 567, start by finding them on our advocacy site.