MUNCIE, INDIANA – The Muncie Community School Board met tonight in the Anthony School Administration building for a standing room only business meeting giving local residents one last time to make their appeal for Option F to the school board.
A handful of residents, mainly parents and students of Muncie Southside were given 3 minutes to explain why the board should keep Southside open. Every one of them gave heartfelt reasons why the Rebel Spirit should continue. Dave Collins, who coordinated the Save Muncie South Rally this past Saturday, led off to support Option F. After weeks of public meetings, rallies, referendums and exchanges on social media and online newspapers, you could sense the mostly Rebel crowd has given it their all. Now, the decision is up to the school board.
However, first in line to speak to the board was local obstructionist, Chris Hiatt, a Tea Party and Good Government Group member. Chris requested that both Mark Burkhardt, CFO and Tim Heller, School Superintendent, offer up their resignations or be fired for their reckless handling of the systems financials and using school children to raise money which would cover up their ineptitude. He also requested that if any board member agreed with Heller and Burkhardt that making the kids walk to school was a good idea should also resign.
The school board applied for a waiver to the three-year notice from the Indiana Department of Education allowing them stop transportation at the end of this calendar school year. Typically, a school system would have to give the state a three-year notice, but since MCS recently discovered they were lacking funds for 2014 bus transportation, they requested a waiver in case the school bus referendum was defeated.
One of the speakers mentioned that south side residents weren’t voting against transportation for the kids, they were voting for no new taxes. The comment received a mixed reaction from those attending. Several residents have made comments to the effect of school administrators and board members should have made the tough cuts first before asking taxpayers to bail them out – mainly our tea party types like Chris Hiatt.
They believe our school board can save money by cutting expenses elsewhere within the budget. These savings can then be used for transporting the kids to school, and MCS officials should have made those cuts first, before asking taxpayers to bail them out.
Muncie Community Schools has been impacted by many socioeconomic factors over the past decade. Add in the political battles of how best to reform our educational system, along with blaming teachers for poor student performance, it’s just one more system that has failed us and political forces see two different solutions. Unfortunately, it’s the kids that get hurt.
We learned about some outstanding students in our school system who received national honors for their academic achievements, but their accomplishments were overshadowed by struggles over money. How can a state who built a war chest of $2 billion, cut millions to a school system knowing the negative impact it will have on the kids?