The Monroe County Community School Corporation Board is asking lawmakers not to support a bill that would allow the state to take over financially distressed schools.
The board sent a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana) and the Indiana General Assembly on Jan. 25 to express “strong opposition.”
“It is critical that the Indiana Legislature not, again, usurp control of our public schools, recognizing that any of our districts and elected positions could be next,” the letter says.
House Bill 1315 is aimed at giving the state more control over financially-distressed school districts, but it has faced strong criticism.
Both Gary and Muncie Schools were taken over by the state last year after their finances reached crisis levels.
The legislation targets Gary and Muncie Community Schools as examples for what other financially distressed schools could see if they face major financial trouble. A core part of the legislation would reduce the number of meetings for the school board of a struggling corporation from once a month to once every six months, and limit the power of the board.
“We stand in support of the people of Muncie, Gary, and whichever district the state legislature may set their sights on next,” the MCCSC letter says. “We demand that the legislature amend HB1315 to allow the voices of administrators, teachers, citizens and elected community school board members remain an integral part of the democratic process and the public accountability inherent in true public education.”
The bill would also allow financially distressed schools to fire up to 5 percent of their teachers mid-year to address budget concerns.
An amendment was also added to the bill which would give Ball State University managerial control over Muncie Community Schools.
Muncie Community Schools was put under full state control on Jan. 1. But this amendment means the university could assume responsibility for the district.
The MCCSC letter says this amendment is a particular area “of great concern.”
HB 1315 passed out of committee with a 16-7 vote last week. It now heads to the full House for consideration.
Read the complete letter from the MCCSC board below: