Indiana board to discuss takeover of Muncie school district

A state board will decide whether Indiana should assume control of the Muncie school district, a move that's being opposed by the city's chamber of commerce.

Indiana's Distressed Unit Appeal Board sent an emergency manager to the district to help stabilize the financially impaired Muncie Community Schools in the summer, The Star Press reported. The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday to vote on whether the emergency manager should be given full control over the district's finances and academics.

Pat Kennedy, president of Muncie Teachers Association, told board members that the idea of the state's support isn't frightening "after seeing the positive outcomes from the last few months of (state) intervention."

The boards of directors of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Advancement Corp. have requested that the state return "autonomy" to the school district.

"It is a well-known fact that good schools are essential to economic development." the organizations said to the board. "We do believe in local control with accountability. It is our shared belief that MCS has seen significant academic program improvements over the past several years."

The district's improvements in recent years include increases to the graduation rate, the number of students earning college credit and industry certifications, the number of Advanced Placement courses, extra-curricular participation and college scholarship funding.

The district has also implemented a deficit-reduction plan that has included the closure of three elementary schools and the elimination of teaching and staffing positions. It's expected to have a balanced budget in 2018 as well as positive cash flow. However, the district is expected to finish 2017 with a budget deficit of $12 million, because of past mismanagement, property-tax caps and other factors.

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