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BSU takeover of Muncie Schools still under consideration

MUNCIE, Ind. (Network Indiana): The state legislature is still mulling over a bill to turn full control of the ailing Muncie Community School Corporation over to Ball State University.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will likely revisit House Bill 1315 next week after the Indiana House passed the legislation earlier this month. The full Senate has until March 6th to pass the bill.

New Ball State president Geoffrey Mearns says this lines up perfectly with his initial goal of helping Ball State to engage more with the local community.

“When I arrived I certainly didn’t anticipate taking on this responsibility,” Mearns said to Gerry Dick on Inside Indiana Business. “But it is consistent with that and what I’ve said since I arrived on campus, the future of our university is dependent on the future of Muncie and in turn, the community schools.”

Mearns says Ball State is “uniquely situated” to tackle the problems that plague the Muncie Community School District, which has been under the total control of an emergency manager since last year. During that time the school has made a dent in millions of dollars of debt, but not enough to satisfy state lawmakers.

The bill in the statehouse would give Ball State the ability to appoint its own seven-member board of trustees to run the district. Some have argued that the bill would strip any “local control” from the district.

“The total control of the district is in the hands of a state-appointed emergency manager,” Mearns said in response. “We see this plan as more of a local control. Unlike the emergency manager, we’re invested for the long-term.”

Mearns adds local input throughout the entire process is critical to the success of the plan should the bill pass.

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