Muncie School Board
Muncie newspaper published an article today with reactions from Muncie City Council President Marshall. As well, Mayor Tyler voiced his concerns. We would like to highlight some of best quotes and respond.
Marshall: “We haven’t really made any decisions yet.”
MP: House Bill 1315 passed on May 14, 2018. Council has done nothing in 15 calendar days. Although the same council was able to pass a 43% income tax in 14 days. The same council was able to fast track DCEMS. In other words, when the council wants to be expedient they will do so.
Marshall: “We want to make sure we do the best we can for this school board,” he said. “With our appointment, at least we will have a voice (on the board), a bigger voice.”
MP: Yet, they have sat on their collective rears and did nothing. Sounds like doing their best, right?
Marshall: “Nobody reached out to council from Ball State that I know of, not to me as president,” he said. “Nobody’s reached out to me and said this is on the fast track.”
MP: Timeline was published and as an elected body one should take steps to prepare If the council is ignorant on HB1315 that is of their own doing. It’s not like HB1315 has been hidden from the public eye. All of this has to be in place by July 1, 2018. Ignorance of this bill is not the fault of the bill. City Council is masters of fast-tracking when it benefits them. Lame excuse.
Marshall: “I’m just one person,” Marshall said.. “I have to bring this before council, and it has to be done publicly. We have been accused of not doing things correctly. As president, I’m following an open forum. Everybody has input.”
MP: Eight other members and the MCS appointments never discussed? Never? Again, this council was able to pass a 43% income tax in 14 days. They pulled together on the city-run EMS proposal. Collectively they worked to keep information from the public.
Star Press: Marshall is still bitter about how the state government trifecata (the Republican Party holds the governorship and supermajorities in the House and Senate) “rammed” House Bill 1315 into law.
MP: Like this administration and city council has done since 2012? Muncie City Council has been under Democrat majority for decades. There is a plethora of “rammed” ordinances, spending and taxes in their history.
“The way the Statehouse came in here and did what they did, it seems like they want to do away with public education,” Marshall said.
MP: Marshall making another ridicules political statement hoping to redeem the council from their obvious inactivity and direct the conversation away from the real issue. City Administration and Council have done nothing to prepare for this major legislation.
Tyler: When Tyler said he received information from the state, he meant Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and his legal staff.
“There are still some areas not clear to us,” Tyler said. “It says we have the ability to nominate three, but it doesn’t say we couldn’t nominate just one or just two if we choose.”
MP: Mayor Dennis Tyler held the previous position of Indiana State Representative since 2006. He was appointed to the House after Rep. Tiny Adams died. He was elected in 2008 & 2010 until resigning to run for mayor in 2011. More than anyone he should have been on top of this bill. Playing political games again with something as nonsensical as the number of nominations? What legal staff is he referencing? Is it the Indianapolis legal staff or is the Quirk -Hunter legal staff?
When Mayor Tyler won in 2011 he was asked if he would appoint any Republicans. He laughed and said, “We have enough qualified Democrats.” (sic) . Has this changed?
Why does MCS need to change? Why is it imperative Muncie Community Schools must look outside the box? It seems obvious, the old standard way of running the district is broken, it is ineffective, outdated and MCS is labeled as a “distressed district”.
Here’s what we can glean so far. Ball State University would like to manage the school district. An appointed board of seven members, two which will be appointed by the Mayor of Muncie and Muncie City Council. The board will hire a superintendent. MCS may receive additional funds from the State of Indiana, but no funds from Ball State University will be used. MCS employees will still be MCS employees. Of course, this is only a short summary and more will be available.
Listen to the interview with President Mearns on Indiana Public Radio.
We don’t want to spend much time on how Muncie Community Schools became Distressed School District with a state take-over, but we do need to have a look at the history.
The chatter on social media sites is awash with opinions and comments.
One of the issues seems to be the loss of voting for school board members. However, we had five elected board members prior to the state take-over. Today the board has absolutely no power. At the most, they’re consulted by the emergency managers, they can’t vote on anything. The superintendent is powerless, too. He’s a lame duck. State votes to take over Muncie Community Schools
Less than two months past Muncie Teachers Association and others supported relinquishing that right. Knowing the State would make elected officials ineffective and all power removed and handed over to a hired company – the goal was achieved. What’s the difference?
Muncie Community Schools has never had a solid long-term plan.
Circa 2005 the district embarked upon an aggressive improvement plan. Bonding out approximately $50 million in debt. Despite all the economic factors, such as the loss of jobs, decrease in enrollment and population, businesses shutting down the board decided to move ahead with the bond.
In 2010 the Blue Ribbon Task Force presented the administrators for consideration a plan for the district. It collected dust until 2013 when the school board voted to consolidate the two high schools. This after the referendum was defeated.
Prior to the referendum, MCS held four Town Hall meetings presenting several proposals for the district, yet at the State hearing for busing, we found the district had no plan. No one from the City of Muncie, not the mayor, not the chief of police presented a safety plan although we were told there was one. NO PLAN – let this sink in.
Doing the same thing and expecting results.
The administrators and boards have used the same plans for decades. It consisted of shutting down schools or borrowing. That’s it. They ignored State Board of Accounts audits. Ignored repeated deficit line items. The newest school sold for pennies while keeping open deteriorating elementary schools. A short-term fix was all we were offered. The $10 million bond for school repairs dumped into the general fund and used for administrative purposes. No one can say for certain how that money was spent.
Original bond information: MCS 2014 Debt bond 1-27-18
Debt summary 2013 to 2017 MCS Debt Reports 2013-16 1-28-18
Having no plans, or limited plans have proven to not do a darn thing for moving Muncie Community Schools forward. If the label “distressed” isn’t a wake-up call for change, nothing will open your eyes.
A fresh new plan:
Partnering with Ball State University, community organizations, and individuals, the school board, the elected officials in a collaborative and healthy environment will do more for our children and school district. We must set aside our political ideologies, desire for control and stop thinking about our own wants over the needs of the most important people…the students of Muncie Community Schools. A good school district will do more for Muncie then all the economic development we spend millions to produce with very little return on our investment. Larry Riley penned a column several years ago similar BSU’s proposal. Incremental steps won’t help Muncie Community Schools
Accomplishing a working environment conducive to education and economic development may be the hardest thing the area has ever had to do. Simply because it’s not in our nature to put aside our turf wars and think outside the box.
Nothing else has worked.