Muncie residents attend town hall to discuss future of school district

MUNCIE, Ind. - Dozens of residents filled a room at Muncie City Hall for a meeting about the future of their schools. Many expressed concerns about a bill, making its way through the statehouse, that would give Ball State University control over Muncie Community Schools.

The school district is facing a multi-million dollar deficit and an emergency manager. The potential BSU takeover creates another phase of uncertainty for MCS families.

"We all have the best interest of the community," said parent Tracy Stevens. "It's going to affect all of us one way or another."

House Bill 1315 includes an amendment that gives the BSU board of trustees the power to appoint a governing board for the school district. The current elected school board would become an advisory board.

While there are some who say BSU may be exactly what Muncie needs to improve its schools, others feel the bill is being pushed through too quickly.

"It’s important to get it done right rather than get it done fast," Stevens said.

Just last year, lawmakers passed a bill designating MCS as a distressed school district. An emergency manager was put in place and has had full control of the school system. The lawmakers who represent Muncie say they feel they were left out of the conversation for this latest bill that focuses on the future of the school district.

"We were surprised this year with the amendment of being taken over by Ball State and we were surprised last year with the amendment where we would be labeled as distressed unit," said Melanie Wright, (D-Yorktown).

Ball State University sent a spokesperson to the town hall Saturday who told the crowd the university president wanted to include input from the community in decisions about the school district -- if this bill becomes law.

The university also posted a statement to its website about the legislation. It says, in part:

“Ball State supports this legislation because it presents an historic opportunity for our University and the community that we serve… We believe the success of this effort lies in collaboration with the entire community – the MCS teachers, students, and families, and every member of the community who wants to partner with us. Our goal is for MCS to thrive again, not just survive.”