Ball State University officials say the school will buy Northside Middle School from Muncie Community Schools. IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports.
Ball State University spokeswoman Kathy Wolfe says the university will pay $1.27 million for the building, which first opened as a high school in 1970.
But that doesn’t mean Northside will close immediately – or even next school year – as an active Muncie Community Schools middle school. According to the agreement, MCS is allowed to lease the property back from Ball State for one dollar per year for the next five years.
The plan matches one passed by the MCS school board in April. While voting to close school buildings to combat the district’s multi-million dollar deficit, board member Robert Warrner proposed to keep Northside open in its current location, until a new building could be built on the site of the now-closed Storer Elementary School.
“Well, I’m going to take a leap of faith here,” said Warrner, “and I may fall flat on my face. I may lose, I may not get a second. But it’s time, I think, to have the courage to do the right thing, to look down the road and have a vision.”
The school board approved that idea, but still has not said what money will be used to build a new middle school building.
Meanwhile, to help with maintenance at Northside, Ball State’s purchase agreement says it will pay the district $60,000 a year for each year the building is leased.
In a statement, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns says the purchase of Northside is in line with Ball State’s plan to buy land adjacent to campus. In 2016, the university purchased the Anthony Administration Building from MCS. The former elementary school sits on a lot behind Northside Middle School.