MUNCIE — An independent fact-finder has ruled in favor of the Muncie Teachers Association after investigating a collective-bargaining deadlock between teachers and financially unstable Muncie Community Schools.
Fact-finder Sandra Jensen's 30-page report is a blow to the credibility of MCS's leadership. She repeatedly blisters Superintendent Steve Baule and the school board for inaccurate information, "unfounded" claims, lack of documentary evidence and a likely attempt to "create an artificial appearance."
Jensen called the school board/administration’s proposal “a patchwork of ideas and concepts that do not appear to have been thoroughly vetted.” She also says MCS’s reaction to the “extraordinarily difficult financial position” that it “created for itself” appears to be “haphazard and disorganized.”
The fact-finder was appointed by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board to select one party's "last best offer" (LBO) as the binding labor agreement. She accepted the teachers' game plan.
"Without doubt MCS is facing significant consequences for past mishandling of financial resources," Jensen wrote. "The fact-finder clearly understands MCS's interest in improving its financial situation and building a small surplus for emergencies as quickly as possible. However, it is imprudent for MCS to act in such an aggressive manner to effect its financial recovery."
Pat Kennedy, president of MTA, told The Star Press: "No one is refuting that MCS has debt that needs to be erased. Erasing the debt all at once is not mandated by the state. We can take a more moderate approach that will preserve the quality of this school corporation as well as meet the needs of the community and its children. Allowing the board to continue with its scorched-earth approach to reducing debt will result in major negative consequences for this community."