Indiana group chosen to lead Muncie Schools out of deficit
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – A state board has chosen a group made up of retired Indiana school officials to help lead Muncie Community Schools out of a multi-million dollar deficit.
Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) voted unanimously to name Administrator Assistance as the Emergency Manager for the Muncie Community Schools Corporation. The move comes after state lawmakers voted for a state takeover of the district, which is expected to have a deficit exceeding $9 million at the end of 2017.
Administrator Assistance won the job over two other companies, The Robert Bobb Group LLC and Crowe Horwath, LLP.
Administrator Assistance is a group made up of retired Indiana teachers and school administrators. DUAB members said the group would have the advantage because they are already familiar with Indiana laws and school finance structure.
Muncie Schools Superintendent, Dr. Steven Baule, had also applied for the Emergency Manager position. Baule had already submitted a debt reduction plan, which included closing three elementary schools. But DUAB members said it could be problematic to have someone so closely connected to the school district assigned to the emergency manager position.
Steve Wittenauer, with Administrator Assistance, says he fully plans to work hand-in-hand with Dr. Baule.
“He may have some really good ideas that we need to look at, kind of put our heads together so to speak, and come up with a solution that we think is best for the kids,” Wittenauer said. “We look at this as another set of eyes for Muncie. We’re not going to be going in there to criticize, we’re going in there to strategize.”
Dr. Baule’s plan includes closing three of the district’s elementary schools. Wittenauer says he expects that to happen, and one of the first decisions will be what to do with those schools.
“We know Ball State is interested in some of those facilities,” Wittenauer said. “So the sooner we can come to grips with what that might be, might help us start out of the financial burden that we’re in.”
Wittenauer also says outside vendors will likely be consulted to examine things like health insurance, bonds and contracts.
Although the multi-million dollar deficit won’t be fixed in the next six months, Wittenauer says Administrator Assistance hopes to have a solid financial plan in place by the end of 2017.