By: Todd Smekens
BLOG – Sometimes I hate being correct on assumptions, but with the case of Muncie Community Schools, the state and local community was looking for a scapegoat and found one – current superintendent, Steven Baule. I’m not sure what the psychology is but Americans love to persecute the messenger or whistleblower. We see it time and time again from Washington to Indianapolis to Muncie. Sadly, our lame media plays along with the scheme and writes the storyline. Once published, we absorb it hook line and sinker.
Let’s be clear when Steven Baule was hired in 2015 as Muncie Community School Superintendent, the board told him he had around a $1.2 million budget deficit to overcome because they were told this by their previous superintendent and CFO. From what we know in 2018, the school board was lied to. Or, if some of the members were told, they suppressed that information from the public.
What Baule didn’t know is the CFO back in 2014 was taking money from dedicated or reserved bank accounts to pay their bills. Scholarships and prepaid lunch monies were used to pay teachers and vendors. Not only that, but the CFO also used $10 million in bond proceeds floated for capital improvements to cover their cash flow deficit.
From what I can tell, it took three CFO’s under Steven Baule to discover that his $1.2 million cash flow deficit was really over $14 million and Standard & Poors was ready to downgrade the district to a credit rating of a third world country.
We tasked the board and Baule with tightening the ship. Under his recommendation, the school board closed one of our two high schools to save money which caused locals to transfer their kids to county schools where it’s less diverse. Elementary schools were closed which also caused parents to move their kids to county schools. The shifting of students from city to county caused even more of a cash flow problem. The state used this as an opportunity to take control. But not before rewriting the state laws so the invaluable Bethel Avenue property where Anthony and Northside are located was sold to Ball State University for a fraction of their value.
Pat Kennedy with Muncie’s Teacher Association was a good negotiator for the teachers but her delay tactics caused serious cash flow problems for the district. Instead of the community being told about the seriousness of the cash flow problems, the administration hid it from the public and possibly the board members.
The state has been in control for over six months and even though a state representative mentioned illegal activity at MCS, we’ve not been privy to it. In fact, the local and Indy media has been used to weave a different story for the public. When I refer to our current mainstream media as nothing but propaganda, this is exactly what I mean.
From a Fox59 article:
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.”
The deficit is the direct result of misusing dedicated capital project funds for teacher salaries and benefits along with vendor payments BEFORE Steven Baule arrived. Pat Kennedy delayed negotiating with MCS because she knew they would get lower wages and fewer benefits. As I said earlier, great for the teachers but bad for the school district.
In addition, if we were truly worried about the finances at MCS, why did the state steal all the Bethel Avenue property from Muncie residents? On the market, the NMS property would be worth over $10 million, but they paid $1.2 million. We got ripped off.
Read closely this statement:
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).
Sorry Mr. Baule, but that was Pat Kennedy shoving you under the bus for a problem she helped create at Muncie Community Schools. Her co-conspirator has yet to be determined. Nonetheless Steven Baule, you’re out a job come June. You can almost hear the deals being made behind closed doors on this whole fiasco. Meanwhile, no arrests have been made for the theft of school funds.