School officials in Muncie say the cash-strapped district will need to take out a $10 million bond to pay for repairs now and in the future.
Among the most pressing upgrades is the $1.9 million earmarked for Muncie Central, which will open next year as the district’s only high school, writes Michelle Kinsey for the Muncie Star Press:
Board of Trustees President Tony Costello says seeking the full amount upfront will help plan for the future, something school officials have been criticized for not doing in the past.
[Muncie Superintendent Tim] Heller said that in response to the many community members who voiced concern that if that amount was needed to open this fall, why didn’t they just use Southside as the main high school?
“The Southside building is not big enough to put the two student bodies in,” he said. “And we only need some of those things on the list to be able to open in August and that’s the (wall) dividers, lockers, some painting and the water fountains.”
Those renovations total $210,000.
So why include the other items on the list and, as a result, up the bond amount?
They still need to be done, Heller noted. If not today, than in the near future, he said.
Kinsey also notes that seeking bids for all projects now, rather than over time as upgrades are needed, will save money in the long run.
We’ve written before about Muncie’s financial woes. The district lost $8.7 million to property tax caps in 2013, more than 70 percent of its total levy. But when school officials asked voters to raise their own taxes to keep buses running in the district, they said no. The state later told the district it would need to continue transportation for at least two more years, for which school officials are still figuring out how to pay.
Declining enrollment has also hurt the district, prompting the merger of the two high schools over the summer.
The new bond will equal an older bond the district is about to pay off and shouldn’t increase the overall tax rate.