Muncie Community School Board: One High School?

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) – Tonight’s work session of the Muncie Community School (MCS) Board and chief administrators was all about school consolidation and finding money for bus transportation if the state doesn’t approve the waiver for the three-year advance notice for terminating transportation.

2013-11-13 20.13.03Mark Burkhardt, CFO for MCS, made it very clear that MCS is relying on the state to approve the waiver because they just don’t have the money to pay M&M Bus company. There is $2.1 million in a rainy day fund, but based on a $3.1 annual price tag for buses, the money just isn’t there.

As we wrote last week, and reiterated by Amy Fant, the bus referendum was an opportunity for the residents in the community to rally around the school system to help them out, but we failed.

You can blame the administrators, or the school board members, but they presented the facts to the community – the YES group prepared a website and set up a Facebook page, interviewed school board members, marched in the Ball State Homecoming parade, but the vote was up to each and every one of us.

City residents decided the anticipated $33 a year tax hike wasn’t worth spending on bus transportation for the kids.

Sure, the voter turnout rate was abysmal, the deceptive campaigning by the local Tea Party was unfair and embarrassing, but we can’t blame anybody but ourselves – we are responsible for being informed and making the best decision possible.

Before the board moved on to school consolidation, school superintendent Tim Heller, emphatically told the crowd and the press, “I do not want to read in the newspaper tomorrow that MCS has monies for bus service – we do not have money to pay for buses!”.

2013-11-13 20.35.32After thirty minutes of an impressive report by Ermalene Faulkner about Option F, or closing both middle schools and combining 7-12 into the two existing high schools, it became clear that Southside wasn’t built for this kind of project. It just wasn’t going to work.

Debbie Feick and Robert Warmer did their own research on combining 7-12 grades into each high school and determined it just wasn’t possible.

Although a decision won’t be made until next Monday, based on the report tonight and closing comments from board members, Muncie will be going down to one high school. However, we’re still unclear how combining high schools will save enough money to afford bus transportation should the state decline the waiver request made by MCS.

The one thing that was made clear is Muncie voters were lied to again by Chris Hiatt and the Tea Party and us Munsonians cast a vote against our self-interest – one more time.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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