House approves bill that would prompt state takeover of Muncie Schools

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MUNCIE, Ind. – A proposal to require the state takeover of Muncie Community Schools and Gary Community Schools passed in the Indiana House Thursday.

There is an amendment from the House that the Senate will have to review before it goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk to be signed into law.

The amended bill looks to declare the school corporation as a distressed political subdivision. The Muncie amendment was added to Senate Bill 567, which outlines the state takeover of Gary’s school corporation.

"We want to hopefully make it support so it doesn't become a total collapse," Rep. Tim Brown said.

Supporters said it's not about punishing schools but helping them.

"I think we're looking to make sure that the district becomes right size with the resources going forward that the children still get an excellent education," Brown said.

The bill amendment comes as Muncie Schools faces an $18 million deficit. The last few weeks have seen stalled negotiations with their teachers’ union and the resignation of the district’s chief financial officer.

If the legislation signed into law, a state-appointed emergency manager would hire a financial manager and an academic manager. The management team would also have broad control over financial and academic decisions for the district, with the intent of getting the corporation back on firm financial footing.

"I think that it is very important that people understand that we have done everything we can possibly do to prevent this from happening but now that it has happened i have to believe that the outcome will be positive for our school and community," Muncie Board President Debbie Feick said.

Hoosier families are worrying what the bill means for their classrooms and the status of the staff's employment.