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Community celebrates hopeful future for Muncie Schools at State of the Schools

By Andrew Berger, The Daily News | Published on in The Daily News
State of the Schools event takes place May 8 at Southside Middle School. Andrew Berger, DN

Community members, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) faculty and Ball State University faculty gathered at Southside Middle School May 8 for the first inaugural “State of the Schools”  event. The occasion, which featured a buffet and live music, marked the first open community meeting to discuss the 2018 partnership between MCS and Ball State.

Elected officials, including Mayor Ridenour and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, showed support for public schools, speakers discussed the progress and significance of the partnership. Holcomb praised Ball State President Geoffry Mearns for his dedication to Muncie’s future.

“I have not stopped chirping since he arrived at Ball State’s campus,” Holcomb said. “We wouldn’t be where we are at today if [Mearn’s] wasn’t willing to take the risk.”

Holcomb emphasized the importance of community collaboration and highlighted the impact of the MCS-Ball State partnership as proof of its effectiveness.

Governor of Indiana Eric Holcomb speaks at during the State of the Schools meeting May 8 at Southside Middle School. Holcomb expressed his thankfulness to Ball State’s steadfast commitment to MCS. Andrew Berger, DN

A theme of hope in the future of Muncie’s public schools continued when Ball State President Geoffry Mearns spoke.

“We are here to celebrate. To celebrate the enthusiasm, the optimism and the hope that has resulted from just a few years of this historic partnership between our university and MCS” Mearns said.

Mearns presented the history of the partnership and expressed that Ball State has a moral obligation to educate the children of the community.

“Our university is distinctly qualified to assume this important responsibility,” Mearns said.

Highlighting Ball State’s nationally recognized programs and community outreach, Mearns stressed that Ball State’s support among MCS’s is a moral obligation.

MCS School Board President Jim Williams also spoke on the success of the partnership and showed the real impact and change due to the support from Ball State University.

Since the 2018 partnership, enrollment at MCS as stabilized. There has also been a heavy improvement in district finances, Williams said

“In five years since the partnership began, teacher pay is up 40%,” Williams said. Williams also thanked present local officials who played a hand at improving operating performance during the last five years.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns visits with community members during the first State of the Schools meeting May 8 at Southside Middle School. Andrew Berger, DN

MCS Director of Public Education Lee Ann Kwiatkowski touched on Muncie Community Schools’s strength in diversity. Kwiatkowski says that there are 34 different native languages spoken throughout the MCS system.

“Our mission is to provide a quality education environment where every child is known, safe, inspired, challenged and empowered. Our vision is placing learners first,” said Dr. Kwiatkowski.

The event concluded with attendees expressing optimism about the future of Muncie’s public schools and a renewed commitment to the ongoing partnership between MCS and Ball State University.

“Ball State University took the risk, and even though significant progress has been made, there is still much work to do. This work will be done one student at a time.”  Kwiatkowski said.

MCS Director of Public Education Dr. Lee Ann Kwiatkowski speaks during the State of the Schools meeting May 8 at Southside Middle School. Andrew Berger, DN

Contact Andrew Berger with comments at andrew.berger@bsu.edu