MUNCIE, Ind. - Big changes ahead for Muncie Community Schools as it continues to deal with a multi-million dollar budget deficit. The new year marks the start of full state control over the district. The emergency management team has decided not to renew the superintendent's contract.
Steven Baule has led the district since July 2015. According to documents on the MCS website, Baule makes about $143,000 per year. A representative for Administrator Assistance, the state appointed emergency manager, said the decision about Baule's contract was a cost-saving move.
"We are in the position not to approve contracts above $30,000 because we are still in about a $10 to $12 million deficit," said Steve Wittenauer, from Administrator Assistance. "So, to commit to that contract would be committing more money than we think that we should be at this time."
Baule will remain employed through the end of his contract on June 30, 2018, but his ability to make decisions will be limited.
"He has no power, at this particular point, to do anything," Wittenauer said.
The announcement about the contract comes after a budget crisis, problems with transportation for kids at the start of this school year and at least three lawsuits that were filed against Baule and MCS by former district employees.
"It needed to happen," said Pat Kennedy, president of the Muncie Teachers Association (MTA).
The teachers' union support the state takeover. Kennedy said the new year brings a fresh start for Muncie Schools and a way to get back on track.
Wittenauer said cuts to teacher positions are also possible as the district tries to address its financial problems.
"It's unfortunate but we know we have a financial crisis going on," Kennedy said. "We all need to share the pain."
As Administrator Assistance takes the lead in the district, Wittenauer said their number one goal is to get the district back to local control soon.
"We have stability there and we are going to do everything we can to be transparent on whatever we do during this six month period of time and there will be public input as we go forward," Wittenauer.
He also added they hope to work closely with the the school board.
We reached out to the school board president about the superintendent's contract. Debbie Feick said she could not comment on the confidential personnel matter.
She also said the board will be meeting with the emergency management team Friday.