Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Stephanie Wiechmann

Muncie Schools Put Under Full State Control

As of Jan. 1, Muncie Community Schools will be designated a “distressed political subdivision.”

All five members of the Distressed Unit Appeals Board voted to keep MCS under state control. But, as many said at a meeting in Indianapolis, it wasn’t because MCS officials didn’t make progress on controlling the district’s multi-million dollar debt.

Muncie Community Schools will come under full state control in January, after a unanimous state board vote today. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, this lets emergency managers make decisions about both the district’s finances and academics for the next several years. As of January 1, M

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Muncie Schools, Teachers’ Union Ratify Teachers’ Contract

Ratifying a new teachers’ contract was one check mark on a list of potential “progress” looked at by the state Distressed Unit Appeals Board before an end-of-the-year deadline to decide on continuing state control of Muncie Community Schools.

Muncie Community Schools and the local teachers’ union has come to an agreement on a new contract for teachers. In a statement, both MCS officials and the Muncie Teachers Association say Thursday’s ratified contract provides no salary increase for teachers. It does lower health insurance premium

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Muncie Schools Predicts 2017 Zero Deficit Cash Flow, Balanced 2018 Budget

Muncie Schools CFO Bob Coddington presents a 2018 balanced budget proposal to school board members. (Stephanie Wiechmann/IPR)

Muncie Schools CFO Bob Coddington presents a 2018 balanced budget proposal to school board members. (Stephanie Wiechmann/IPR)

The financial officer for Muncie Community Schools says the financially impaired district could have a zero-deficit cash flow by December and a balanced budget next year. But that hope hinges on selling buildings by the end of the year.

According to Bob Coddington, the Muncie Community Schools chief financial officer, the district had a June cash flow of negative $8.2 million. In a Tuesday night presentation, that number is now negative $1.7 million. And then, in front of a school board that’s been getting state attention for its multi-million dollar debt, Coddington used the number zero.

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Applications Open For 10 Pre-K Expansion Counties

(Jen Rost/Flickr)

(Jen Rost/Flickr)

The state-funded preschool pilot program that began with five counties was expanded during the 2017 legislative session for 15 more counties. Now, parents in 10 of those counties can apply for half-year preschool.

But all low-income families applying will also have to comply with a new program requirement.

A state grant would pay for half or full day preschool for a 4-year-old child beginning next January.

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Ball State President Creates Scholarship For Muncie High School Students


(Photo: Ball State University)

The new Ball State University president and his wife are creating a scholarship to benefit students at the local city high school.

In his installation speech, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns put a spotlight on financial troubles at Muncie Community Schools. The corporation’s multi-million dollar deficit came to statewide attention this year when the Indiana General Assembly labeled it “fiscally impaired” and assigned an emergency financial manager to turn it around.

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What Going On With Busing At Muncie Community Schools?



School was back in session on Monday, after Muncie Community Schools canceled the second and third day of school last week. The district, which was designated as a “fiscally impaired school corporation” and put under probationary state control, experienced widespread bus route problems with its new bus company.

As part of the school district’s cost-cutting measures, it chose Auxilio Services over long-time local bus service M&M Bus Company to save the district $1.2 million a year.

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State Announces Pre-K Expansion Counties

Indiana's preschool pilot program would expand to 15 new counties and include a controversial option for online preschool under legislation heading to the governor's desk. (Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

(Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

Low-income families in 15 counties will soon be able to use state money to send their 4-year-old children to preschool. Indiana’s first pre-K pilot included five counties – some urban and some rural.

One of the additional counties is Delaware, where Carrie Bale runs the By5 Early Childhood Initiative. She says while she’s glad for the new opportunity, the expansion includes a new requirement that could exclude families that need the service.

“In the first round three years ago in the five original counties, it was an income qualifier – and that was the only qualifier,” Bale says. “With this new round coming out, it’s an income qualifier of 127 percent of poverty, plus the parents have to be working or going to school. That’s going to be our challenge.”

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Muncie Takeover Bill Passes General Assembly, But Delays Action

Teachers, students, and the community rallied for the school in February.

Teachers, students, and the community rallied for the school in February. (photo credit: Indiana Public Radio)

Indiana lawmakers in both houses on Friday night approved a bill that could still allow a state takeover of Muncie Community Schools because of its financial crisis.  But the final version postpones a takeover for several months and gives the district the option of working to turn itself around.

Under the final version of the bill, Muncie is essentially put on probation.  If Gov. Eric Holcomb signs the measure, Muncie will be designated as a “fiscally impaired school corporation.”  An interim emergency manager will be appointed to make financial decisions until December. This gives the district time to enact the deficit reduction plan it passed last week.  And the bill says that emergency manager could actually be MCS Superintendent Steve Baule.

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Muncie Schools State Takeover Bill Passes House

(Peter Balonon-Rosen, Tony Sandleben/IPB News)

(Peter Balonon-Rosen, Tony Sandleben/IPB News)

The House has approved a bill that gives the state permission to take over control of Muncie Community Schools and its financial crisis.

Senate Bill 567 was originally designed to help Gary Community School Corporation come out of a $19 million budget deficit. This week, a House committee added Muncie Community Schools to the bill, saying a state report showed an $18.6 million deficit.

Local lawmakers and district Superintendent Steve Baule had asked the committee to be allowed to fix things themselves without state takeover. On the bill’s second reading on the House floor Wednesday night, an attempt to remove MCS from the bill led by Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) failed.

On the House floor Thursday, House bill sponsor Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) says he added Muncie to the bill because of its long-term debt.

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Muncie Schools Added to Bill Despite District Opposition

Muncie Central. (Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

Muncie Central High School. The House Ways and Means committee voted Monday to include Muncie Community Schools in a bill that provides financial assistance for struggling districts. (Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

An Indiana House committee has voted to amend a bill that if passed would allow a state takeover of Muncie Community Schools to right its financial crisis.

The House Ways and Means Committee added the Muncie school district to a bill that already passed the Senate. It would allow a state takeover of Gary Community School Corporation, for financial reasons, and Committee Chair Republican Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) extended it to include Muncie Community Schools.

“There are a lot of school corporations out there that concern me greatly,” Brown says. “But Muncie and Gary concern me the most.”

According to the State Board of Accounts, Gary’s deficit is nearly $20 million.  Muncie’s, factoring in all debt obligation, is $18.6 million.

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