Indiana officials close records on troubled school district

November 10, 2017

State officials won't release a new report that examines health insurance costs at an eastern Indiana school district.

The decision to withhold the information comes as the public prepares to comment on whether the state should take control of the financially struggling Muncie Community Schools, The Star Press reported.

The state-appointed emergency managers overseeing the district will also soon make recommendations about whether to cut academic programs, close schools and eliminate teaching positions.

The state's Distressed Unit Appeal Board signed a contract last month with emergency management firm Administrator Assistance for the audit. The report was compiled by RE Sutton & Associates, an employee-benefit and insurance brokerage consultant.

It aims to provide the district and emergency managers with information about acquiring a new health insurance plan, which makes it exempt from the Access to Public Records Act, said Daniel Shackle, an attorney representing the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

The document is also being used in collective-bargaining negotiations between emergency managers and the Muncie Teachers Association, which also exempts it from open records law, Shackle said. The report can't be disclosed because it's a "deliberative" document, he said.

Emergency managers submitted a brief to the Distressed Unit Appeal Board that indicates that the school district could save $2.2 million annually by switching to the state's health insurance program.

Officials are also withholding information on bids to purchase school buildings, health insurance bids and a report analyzing the district's property and casualty insurance costs.


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