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 It seems obvious, the old standard way of running the district is broken, it is ineffective, outdated and MCS is labeled as a “distressed district”.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.