February 27, 2018

League Of Women Voters Backs BSU Takeover Of Muncie Schools

Proposed legislation calls for Ball State Univeristy to govern Muncie Community Schools starting July 1. - File photo/IPBS

Proposed legislation calls for Ball State Univeristy to govern Muncie Community Schools starting July 1.

File photo/IPBS

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — The League of Women Voters of Indiana has dropped its opposition to proposed legislation that would turn the management of Muncie Community Schools over to Ball State University.

Last year, Indiana lawmakers enacted special legislation that required the state's Distressed Unit Appeal Board to send in a state-appointed emergency management team of private consultants to help Muncie's financially struggling district. Board members voted to give the Muncie district's emergency manager full control over the district's finances and academics by designating it as a distressed political subdivision.

The new legislation the House passed is scheduled to be heard Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It calls for BSU to govern MCS starting July 1 by appointing a seven-member school board to replace the current five-member elected school board.

The League issued a "Call to Action" opposing the bill last week on the grounds that it would permanently remove "power from the people," require that only two of the seven school board members reside in Muncie, and establish a governance structure that is "anything but open, representative, accountable and responsive."

The organization said it changed its stance because the university would be less likely than the state-appointed emergency manager to cut art, music and other classes.

League spokeswoman Linda Hanson said the group made its decision after hearing from Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns and emergency management team leader Steve Edwards.

But BSU spokeswoman Kathy Wolf told the Star Press that the university doesn't have enough details and can't confirm what it would do. She said the university will become more engaged in such analysis if the bill passes.

Edwards couldn't be reached for comment by the newspaper.

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