The Ball State University Board of Trustees Wednesday passed a resolution to accept the responsibility to appoint a new school board to manage the Muncie Community Schools (“MCS”).
Rick Hall, chair of the Board of Trustees, noted that this is the first time a public university has assumed such a responsibility for local public schools.
“Ball State has a long history as a national leader in education innovation and civic engagement. At the same time, we strongly believe in the power of education and the collective ability of our community. Today, we have once again combined our talents and values in the most meaningful of ways – to better the future of the children in Muncie and Indiana.”
President Geoffrey S. Mearns said, “I am encouraged and energized that our University now has the opportunity to lead a community-wide partnership to improve the educational experiences for all of the children in Muncie. The future of our University and the future of our city are dependent upon the success of MCS. Today, we are now united to secure a brighter future for all of us.”
Indiana lawmakers voted this week to turn the Muncie school district over to Ball State.
Officials say the role of Ball State in leading the community-wide collaboration is already well underway having generated more than $2.9 million in private philanthropic support for MCS.
During his presentation to the Trustees, President Mearns emphasized two important points regarding the immediate transition. First, beginning July 1, the current emergency managers of MCS, Administrator Assistance, will assist the new school board during a 60-day transition period as provided in the current contract with the Distressed Unit Appeal Board.
Second, Administrator Assistance has indicated that the finance plan, which will be presented to the newly appointed school board for the next school year, anticipates that the salaries and benefits next year for all returning MCS employees will be the same as this current year. President Mearns remarked, “These are reassuring points of information and should relieve some of the immediate concerns of the employees returning to MCS.”
Mearns says MCS teachers and staff will be the first to benefit from the collaboration. As part of the philanthropic support for MCS, the University will direct $50,000 to fund classroom supplies for MCS educators to use in their classrooms.
In addition, MCS employees, including teachers, will receive a scholarship to enroll in programs at Ball State. These scholarships will be a 50 percent tuition reduction for up to 6 credit hours a year per employee. MCS employees will also receive preferred pricing for season tickets to Ball State athletics and entertainment events.
“The teachers and staff are at the center of this partnership,” President Mearns said. “They are the heart and soul of MCS. They are valued and respected. We plan to meet with teachers and staff in their schools before the end of the academic year. We want to hear more about the successes within MCS and learn more about the challenges they face.”
Under the resolution passed by the Board of Trustees, Ball State will immediately begin the process of receiving applications for the appointed MCS school board. Beginning May 17, an online application form will be available at bsu.edu/mcs. Applications will also be available at Ball State University’s Bracken Administration Building, located at 2000 W. University Ave., Room 106. Application forms can be filled out online, and also mailed or dropped off at the Administration Building. All applications must be received or postmarked by June 1.