State hears presentations from potential emergency managers for Muncie schools

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The state is a step closer to picking who will oversee Muncie Community Schools as emergency manager. Thursday evening, the Distressed Unit Appeals Board heard presentations from candidates who have applied for the position.

That candidate the state chooses will be taking on a district facing a budget deficit reaching into the millions, closures of three schools and the aftermath of a bitter battle over teacher's contracts.

"I just want somebody who will have great integrity and will right the ship," Margaret Niccem, a Muncie Central High School graduate, said.

The state is considering three different companies and current superintendent Dr. Steven Baule. The board said Baule did not make a presentation Thursday since he already presented a deficit reduction plan last month.

The first presentation was from public accounting, consulting and technology firm Crowe Horwath, LLP.

"Believe in the process, evaluate, assess and implement," the company's presenter, Tim Berry, said. "It is only through that evaluation of data, evaluation of input from everyone that we will be able to see success in building a plan and building a process."

Berry said the firm has previously worked with Chicago Public Schools, Indianapolis Public Schools and the Indiana Department of Education.

The second presentation was from Administrator Assistance. It says the company is built of retired school administrators, teachers and business managers.

"Our goal as a company is to help schools solve problems," the company's presenter, Steve Wittenauer, said.

Wittenauer said the company has worked on projects with MCS in the past, as well as other Indiana school districts in tough financial spots. He stressed wanting to work with the district and concerns over teachers leaving and the debt structure fund.

The state said The Robert Bobb Group LLC, a consulting firm based in Washington D.C. could not make the meeting.

Members of the DUAB said they are aiming to have someone in place next month.