The state has named the new emergency manager for Muncie Community Schools. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the financially impaired district will soon be run by a company called Administrator Assistance.
The company of independent contractors includes retired teachers, business managers, and school administrators. Courtney Schaafsma is a member of the Distressed Unit Appeals Board , or DUAB, the board responsible for choosing Muncie Community Schools’ emergency manager.
“Administrator Assistance has been engaged at Muncie Community Schools in the fairly recent past. It was very clear that they were familiar already with the situation. And given then their background of being retired superintendents and school business officials, they would be able to quickly come in and get moving really from day one.”
One familiar name on the Administrator Assistance team is Steve Edwards – a former MCS assistant superintendent and elected school board member. At public hearings in Muncie, several community members suggested Edwards get the manager job.
Because of staggered terms, Edwards hasn’t been seated on the MCS board yet – his term begins in January. But he said at a previous DUAB meeting that he would resign from the school board if Administrator Assistance was chosen. On Monday, DUAB members said they would negotiate the company’s contract to include Edwards stepping down from the board.
Muncie Teachers Association president Pat Kennedy says she doesn’t think Edwards’s seat on the board is a conflict.
“He’s not on the board yet, and, even though he was elected last November, his term would not even start until January 1. I guess I just don’t see the conflict today. Starting January 1, yes, but it’s my understanding this contract will end December 31st anyway.”
According to state law, if there’s a vacancy on a school board, normally other school board members would appoint a replacement.
MCS Superintendent Steve Baule was an applicant for the emergency manager position. In discussion, Republican Representative Milo Smith had concerns about Baule in a new role.
“The people are divided in Muncie school corporation. And they’re real concerned about what process to follow to correct things in the Muncie school corporation. I would think that Dr. Baule’s personality of dividing the teams – is what I’ve observed – will be something difficult for us to overcome.”
After the vote, the board reiterated that Baule remains as superintendent and will continue to work with the emergency manager team. Baule was not at Monday’s meeting in Indianapolis.
After contract negotiations, Administrator Assistance will serve as MCS emergency manager until the end of 2107. If it makes the progress the state board wants to see, the school district will return to local control in January. If not, DUAB will negotiate a bigger contract that could see Muncie under state control for at least two years, and maybe more, until it is financially stable.
Tony Sandleben contributed to this report.