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Muncie Schools Added To State Takeover Bill In House

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 Senate version focused on Gary schools exclusively.

According to the State Board of Accounts, Gary Community School Corporation has a deficit of nearly $20 million. A Senate bill would designate the school as “distressed” and appoint an emergency manager to make decisions.

On Monday, House Ways and Means Chair Republican Representative Tim Brown introduced an amendment to add Muncie Community Schools to the bill.

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

Muncie’s debt, factoring in all obligations, is $18.6 million.

Brown didn’t allow Muncie officials to testify before the amendment vote was taken. That amendment passed, but in discussion, some lawmakers said they were concerned because Gary asked the state for help, and Muncie did not.

Muncie Community Schools Superintendent Steve Baule agrees.

“MCS can still chart a course to get out of this fiscal situation," Baule says. "I believe we’ve already made significant progress, and I think we can get out of this without a need for a state takeover.”

According to the bill, Gary and Muncie schools would have to have a “positive cash flow” for two years before coming out of the distressed designation.

The bill – with its Muncie amendment – was approved by the committee. It now goes to the full House.

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