MUNCIE, Ind. - More teachers are resigning from Muncie Community Schools as the district faces a multi-million dollar deficit.
Just this week, the board of trustees accepted resignations from about 20 teachers. Muncie Teachers Association President Pat Kennedy says the latest round of resignations and retirements brings the total to more than 75 since September 1, 2016.
"A huge number of our teachers with great experience are simply walking out the door and they’re going to other teaching jobs," Kennedy said.
According to Kennedy, the district is accustomed to losing about 35 to 40 teachers each year - with about 15 employees lost to retirements. The increase in teachers quitting and heading to neighboring school districts has Kennedy worried about the start of the school year at the end of July.
"A I concerned we will have enough certified teachers to open the school year?" Kennedy said. "Yes. Am I concerned we will have enough teachers of any kind? Extremely concerned. We’ve had many substitute positions go unfilled throughout the year. And, classrooms left without even a substitute teacher."
The exodus of teachers comes after state intervention to deal with the district's $18 million shortfall. The superintendent said years of overspending left the district in a bad financial position.
The board of trustees voted to close three elementary schools in order to save an estimated $3 million. There have also been issues between the district administration and the teachers union. Negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement failed and a state fact finder was brought in to decide which contract would go into effect.
"It's all the uncertainty and they have to have stability for their families," Kennedy said about teachers who are choosing to work for other districts.
A spokesperson for Muncie Community Schools said they expected some people to leave the district due to the financial struggles. School leaders are actively interviewing job candidates to fill the vacancies.
Meantime, Kennedy said she expects more resignations throughout the summer break.
"They’re going to go where they can survive and someone cares about them as a teacher," she said.
Kennedy said all that can be done is await a decision about who will be named emergency manager for MCS.
"We have to have someone appointed who is going to say it's time to work together and lets lay out what this crisis is all about," Kennedy said.
The community will learn more about those vying to become the emergency manager at a Distressed Unit Appeal Board Meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Southside Middle School auditorium.