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4/17/2017 7:52:00 PM
Muncie Community Schools takeover bill goes behind legislative closed doors

Seth Slabaugh, Star Press

MUNCIE — A bill that would place financially shaky Muncie Community Schools under state control is headed into a closed-door phase.

A House-Senate conference committee on Monday heard opposition to Senate Bill 567 before recessing.

"If it was the intent of the committee to get the attention of Muncie Community Schools, that definitely has happened," Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, told the committee, which is considering whether to include Muncie in a bill originally aimed only at deficit-ridden Gary public schools.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, recessed the committee after hearing some testimony, saying, "Stay tuned."

"From here on out, it will be behind the scenes," Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, told The Star Press afterward. "Sen. Kenley will write a committee report that can change what came out of the House and/or Senate. Then he'll circulate it among the conferees and ask them to sign off on it. All four (conferees) have to sign for it to go back to the House and Senate for final vote."

A decision will come soon. The Legislature is expected to conclude this year's session by the end of this week.

Representatives of the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and the Indiana Public Education Coalition (IPEC) spoke against SB 567 during the hearing convened by Kenley after 1½  hours advance notice on Monday.

Lanane, whose district includes Muncie, acknowledged MCS's financial crisis but said it is being addressed, noting that the school board voted in an emergency meeting last week to close three elementary schools. School officials gave Lanane a plan to reduce administrators, teachers and bills that are due.

Related Links:
• Star Press full text

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• How much is Muncie Community Schools really in the hole?
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• Fact finder blasts Muncie Community Schools, rules for teachers
• Mayor says in State of the City: 'Muncie will find a way'
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