Fate of Muncie schools to be decided next month

MUNCIE, Ind. -- In a meeting to discuss a possible state takeover, the fate of Muncie Community Schools is still undecided. 

The school board members say they just want a chance to save the district. 

The board members made their appeal to the Distressed Unit Appeal Board, which has the power to hand full control of the district over to emergency management firm Administrator Assistance, after years of fiscal mismanagement in the district.

School board president Debbie Feick said the district can resolve a $9.3 million debt by 2020 is the board is left in charge.

Pat Kennedy, the president of the Muncie Schools Teachers' Association, said for the first time she feels heard, and that conversations with the emergency management team have been productive.

"The experience that we've had over the last couple months with AA has been the polar opposite of how teachers have been treated over the last couple years," Kennedy said. "We can't just settle a budget, send [Administrator Assistance] away and say, 'It's ok now. We're on the right track. Everything will be fine now. It isn't fine." 

Kennedy said the teachers' association is very close to concluding contract negotiations with the emergency management team. She would like to see the firm continue its work in managing the district.

John Horowitz went to the meeting. He has a high school student in Muncie. He said he's encouraged to hear teachers feel like they are being included in the process, but he still isn't sure he wants a more involved takeover of the schools. 

"You don't really know who's gonna be making the decisions," he said. 

If the emergency management team is granted full control, they would encompass all the powers of the district superintendent and school board, at taxpayer's expense. 

The final decision will be made sometime in December.

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