MUNCIE, Ind. – Amid facing an $11.5 million deficit, an Indiana State fact finder ruled in favor of the Muncie Teachers Association, who has carried a dispute with Muncie Community Schools over drastic pay cuts.
A fact finder for the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB) agreed that Muncie Community School’s plan to reduce teacher’s salaries and increase insurance costs could be harmful to educators, according to the Indiana State Teachers Association.
The school district proposed teachers would need to take nearly a 23 percent cut in salaries and pay thousands of dollars more in insurance. The Indiana State Teachers Association said the proposal from the district would’ve likely caused many teachers to leave the school system.
Muncie Community Schools officials said to make up the projected increased costs of the teachers’ insurance plan, they will need to cut nearly $2 million. District representatives said they can save this money by closing four elementary schools and a middle school.
The district said they reached out to the City of Muncie and the Muncie Redevelopment Commission for financial support, but have not received any thus far.
A letter was sent home to parents, faculty and staff in April 2016 notifying them of the deficit.
Muncie schools Superintendent Steve Baule said the school system no longer has any remaining operating fund balance to allow it to make up the difference in deficit spending.
By the end of 2019, Baule said Muncie Community Schools are projected have a $37.7 million deficit.
"The projections show a dire fiscal picture for MCS unless it is able to make significant reductions in its spending habits," Baule said.
In mid-March, Baule proposed submitting a petition to the state’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board for a $5 million loan.
Baule said the loan would be a short-term solution to help cover the cost of school operations including teacher salaries.
“In the short term, in order to make payroll and make sure our processes in the schools can continue to function, we need to get a loan,” said Baule.
A statement released by the district Saturday afternoon said, “MCS regrets having to make additional cuts and close schools, but the fiscal realities make this necessary in order to remain viable. The Fact Finder’s decision, which we hope will be overturned on appeal, leaves MCS in potentially the most perilous fiscal situation in the state.”