INDIANAPOLIS — The state’s Distressed Unit Appeal Board voted 5-0 on Wednesday to take full control of both finances and academics at deficit-ridden Muncie Community Schools.
DUAB members acknowledged during a meeting at the Statehouse that MCS has made progress toward achieving financial stability. But they said it wasn't enough. So they designated the district as a "distressed political subdivision," putting Muncie in the same boat as Gary Community School Corp.
The Indiana General Assembly earlier this year had enacted special legislation, signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, requiring DUAB to send in a state-appointed emergency management team of private consultants to help the financially struggling Muncie district.
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The legislation also authorized DUAB, before the end of the year, to either terminate the emergency manager or give it full control of the district’s academics and finances — based on three criteria.
There seemed little to no doubt that the district met two of the criteria for it to regain control: (one) implement a deficit-reduction plan that (two) resulted in progress toward achieving financial stability.
The third criterion was more nebulous: that it was in the best interest of the students, the community, the district and its employees to return local control.
DUAB member Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Merrillville, started the discussion on Wednesday by saying MCS has made some progress fiscally but “remains in a difficult situation” and "state assistance is still needed.”