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BSU President Mearns: “A Historic Opportunity” To Fix Muncie Schools

By Stan Sollars, IPR News | Published on in Community, Education, Local News, Statewide News
IPR's Stan Sollars (left) interviews BSU President Geoffrey Mearns. (File Photo: Angie Rapp)

An amendment to Indiana House Bill 1315 that could give management control of the financially stressed Muncie Community Schools to Ball State University.  IPR’s Stan Sollars talked with BSU President Geoffrey Mearns about the idea, that is expected to be discussed by the House Ways and Means Committee next week.

How We Got Here

An amendment to Indiana House 1315 could give control of the Muncie Community Schools to Ball State University, instead of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Ways and Means Chairman Republican Representative Tim Brown from Crawfordsville wrote the bill and the amendment. Brown said the amendment pertains to the Muncie Community Schools – not to other struggling school districts.  Brown was the lawmaker who introduced legislation last year to put MCS under partial state control

The amendment would permit Ball State’s Board of Trustees to adopt a resolution to govern the Muncie Community School Corporation, using a newly appointed seven-member governing board.  Five elected school board members currently comprise the MCS board.  If the measure is adopted by lawmakers, Ball State’s trustees would select five members of the MCS board. Ball State’s President Mearns would submit the nominations to the BSU board. Muncie’s city council and mayor would each have one appointment to the new seven-member board.  What happens to the role of the elected school board is not yet certain.

During Wednesday’s committee hearing, Mearns said the amendment included a timeline for the university to come up with a management plan for the district.

What The Community Says

At Wednesday afternoon’s committee meeting, Democratic Representative Sue Errington said she and Democratic Senator Tim Lanane, who represent Muncie, had not read the amendment.  She said Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler, current Muncie school board members, and teachers’ union leadership had also not heard of the idea.

On Wednesday afternoon, Muncie Community Schools officials said they had not heard about the amendment at all, and therefore could make no official comment on the idea.

IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann and Tony Sandleben contributed to this report and have been following the MCS story for months.