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Muncie schools emergency manager says deficit less than initially thought

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The emergency manager for Muncie Community Schools said the district's deficit is less than originally thought during a town hall Thursday.

While Administrator Assistance once thought the deficit neared $20 million, it now says it's $13.8 million after factoring in cuts the district previously made.

"The cuts that the corporation made we had to wait until Sept. 20th to find out what those cuts actually meant," Administrator Assistance co-owner Steve Wittenauer said.

The emergency management team said part of the deficit is $4.5 million in cash flow to the end of 2017 and another $9.3 million from a bond that was supposed to be used on repairs, but was instead used on operating costs.

"The mayor is helping us look at renovations looking at how he might be able to do that," Wittenauer said.

Wittenauer said they're looking at $3.7 million from the city, although nothing is finalized. The emergency manager said it will also look in part into cutting programs and staff to help reduce expenditures.

"I think it will happen I think that's one of the ways out of our problem over the next couple of years until we can  get this old debt wiped away, on the other hand it doesn't mean we're just going to lop off people," Pat Kennedy, the Muncie Teacher Association president, said.

The emergency manager said their goal is to reduce spending by $4 to $6 million and get the district's expenditures to $38 million.

"We do have a handle on the general fund hopefully we'll get this $10 million bond thing solved too, they just need to have a little patience with us and trust that we are doing the job in the best interest of the students," Wittenauer said.

Parents had pointed questions during the town hall about staffing cuts and the district's finances.

"I feel like the kids are getting swept under the rug along with the teachers, it's just a shame," parent Mary Webb said.

"I'm concerned about the class sizes and the kids being able to get a good education," parent Dell Bussey said.

But behind the questions, there was still hope.

"I have confidence it will get better," Bussey said.