Indiana lawmakers have passed a bill during a special session today that would allow Ball State University to run Muncie Community Schools. IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports.
The bill passed easily in both chambers. However, long speeches were given by the representatives from Muncie and Gary. The bill mentions their districts specifically and lays out rules on state takeovers of both.
Democrat Representative Sue Errington of Muncie summed up what she sees as Muncie’s specific situation.
“It’s what’s led us to a point where the General Assembly is saying, ‘You are so bad. You voters are so bad, you elect the wrong people, that we’re going to take away your right to vote for your school board. We’re going to give it to Ball State’s trustees.’”
Democratic Senator Tim Lanane spoke on the Senate floor before that chamber’s vote. He said he would oppose the bill, but –
“I’m pretty much certain how this is going to come down – this vote. So I do want to congratulate Ball State University, too, because this is something they have said that they want to do.”
Lanane says despite his no vote, he says he will help Ball State and says the community needs to come together for MCS.
House Bill 1315 was passed in Monday’s special session because it died in the final minutes of the General Assembly’s regular session.
The bill now goes to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Should he sign it, Ball State’s Board of Trustees would need to meet to pass a resolution accepting responsibility for Muncie schools. Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns now says that meeting will be this Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s going to be very important for us to embark on the transition tasks, including selecting the school board.”
According to the bill, the university’s trustees would need to appoint a new seven-member school board by July 1st.
Republican Representative Milo Smith serves on the state’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board, which is supervising the state takeover of MCS. On the House floor, he said DUAB will approve a $12 million loan for MCS if the bill becomes law. Holcomb had requested that loan for the district when he called for a special session.