MUNCIE — The budget deficit at Muncie Community Schools, depending on who is talking, ranges from $18.7 million to non-existent.
Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), chairman of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, last week calculated the deficit at $18.7 million, after which school Superintendent Steven Baule estimated to The Star Press a deficit between $11 million and $15 million.
But state-appointed fact finder Sandra Jensen, assisted by state-appointed financial consultant Wylie Sirk, recently found that the school district has a general fund surplus and has tried to act too rashly and aggressively to bring about its financial recovery.
On the other hand, a Ball State economist warns that if MCS is not ambitious enough, it risks defaulting on its bonded indebtedness, and if that were to happen, the cost of borrowing could increase for nearly all Hoosier schools.
The fact finder determined that in fiscal year 2016 MCS "actually accumulated a surplus of $4,094,581 that should have applied to MCS's considerable deficit."
Jensen was appointed to resolve the collective-bargaining impasse between MCS and the Muncie Teachers Association. She found in favor of MTA, selecting MTA's "last best offer" as the binding labor agreement and rejecting the school district's LBO.