Indiana

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Muncie Schools Propose Own Plan To Solve Debt And Keep State Away

Indiana lawmakers are considering a measure which would annually notify teachers of their right to change representation, if union membership drops below 50 percent at a school. (chancadoodle/Flickr)

Muncie Schools are included in a bill that would allow the state to help solve the district’s debt. At a school board meeting Tuesday, the superintendent proposed an alternate plan to address the debt, in hopes of keeping state involvement at bay. (photo credit: chancadoodle/Flickr)

School district officials in Muncie hope a locally-crafted debt reduction plan will convince state lawmakers to remove them from a bill that would let the state take over control of the district’s financial crisis. The plan presented Tuesday night closes several schools, but doesn’t zero out that debt.

Muncie Community Schools Superintendent Steven Baule told a large crowd at Tuesday’s school board meeting that he isn’t just worried about being taken over by the state.

“Cash flow is at a crisis point,” Baule said. “We’re really at the point where we’re not sure, month to month, if we’re going to have enough money to make payroll, particularly by the end of the summer.”

But Baule still believes the district does not need help from the state, even though Muncie was added to a bill approved by the House last week that would give state control to it and Gary Community School Corporation.

A facilities committee had its own recommendations, but the plan from the administration included closing three elementary schools and one middle school.  It also suggested closing a career center building and moving its functions elsewhere, possibly combining with Ivy Tech Community College.

A state report says Muncie has $18.6 million worth of short-term debt. The district’s debt reduction plan calls for closing four elementary schools and a career center and selling and reconstructing one middle school in the next two years. That and other cuts would save about $13 million. But the plan leaves a $4.3 million deficit and does not address outstanding debt or bonds.

The takeover bill is headed to a conference committee and local lawmakers say they still want Muncie removed before it heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb.

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