Muncie Community Schools is not the only district struggling financially. In fact, the Indiana general assembly has its sights focused on another school district: Gary Community School Corporation.
Facing a financial crisis of its own, Gary Community School Corporation is looking for a loan from the Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB), the same board MCS is applying for a loan from. However, Senate Bill 567 could change how DUAB operates. If it passes, the bill would allow DUAB to continue to give out loans, but also take over certain responsibilities from the Gary school board, something Steven Baule, the MCS superintendent, hopes Muncie can avoid.
“One of the goals, and the direction I’ve been given from the board, is that Muncie Community Schools wants to be a self-directed entity,” Baule said. “They’re willing to make the difficult decisions they need to make that will keep us out of state control, the key is we need to have all the tools necessary to do that.”
While Gary is facing a much higher debt, similarities do exist between Gary and MCS. Both are facing multi-million dollar deficits, low property tax revenue, declining enrollment and neither has been able to pass a referendum.
Baule believes MCS is in a much different position than Gary, saying that tensions between the district and the State led to Senate Bill 567. He also said he has been in talks with Ball State University about possibly partnering with its Teachers College to promote more positives in the district.