Q & A from the Oct. 5 Town Hall

When will you be sharing your new budget plan with the MCS Board?

  • We are working closely with Robert Coddington, MCS CFO, on the development of the budget. It is apparent that substantial cost saving measures will have to be taken for the upcoming year. Those measures will be made in the form of recommendations to the Board as the Emergency Management Team is working in collaboration with the school district and will not have the final say on many of the recommended cost savings items.  Outside of contract teacher contract negotiations, which is a fluid process, the recommendations will be specific and, in terms of teacher contract negotiations, we will be providing a general cost savings that needs to be generated.These recommendations will be made over the next two months. The Board is aware the recommended goal would be to reduce spending by $4 – 6 million through
  • Staffing reductions
  • Program modifications and elimination
  • Facility planning for a district of 4,000 students
  • Significant savings in teacher health insurance costs

What are your hours every day? At what number can people call you?

  • The hours of the Emergency Manager on site range from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Other members of the team travel greater distances and generally are on site for six or more hours sporadically as needed, generally at least one or two days a week.
  • Individuals can reach the Emergency Manager at 765-747-5237

How much are you being paid? Since the paper said you still don’t have a contract, how much are you asking for?

  • It’s important to understand that the Emergency Management Team is state-contracted and state-funded. One would need to contact the Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) for that information.

What grant opportunities have you found for MCS?

  • Have not identified grant opportunities that can reduce the debt. Most grant awards are not for specific debt reduction.

What new ideas for funding have you shared with the Board?

  • Revenue sources are limited for a public-school district and are generally generated through student enrollment.
  • In our plan, we will strongly encourage the district to explore all options for advertising the good things going on the district in an effort to retain and recruit students.
  • Restructuring the debt

When will the teacher’s contract be completed? How much do you anticipate saving?

  • The completion date by law is November 15th; however, if the contract is not settled by that point, the district could enter into impasse.
  • It is the goal of the Emergency Manager to reduce costs next year by $4 million to $6 million dollars with a significant portion of that being in savings generated from teacher health insurance costs.

What do you think is the total savings that you have accomplished so far? How is that being measured?

  • To be clear, the work of the emergency management team is to work with the district to develop a plan to reduce the debt.
  • The district made sizable personnel cuts this year leading into the start of school and the Emergency Management Team will most likely recommend further personnel cuts to be implemented in 2018.
  • Many of the things the Emergency Management Team will recommend cannot be accomplished until 2018 and most likely the start of school in 2018.
  • We are working with the district to identify areas where savings can be made going forward and that will be emphasis.
  • The Emergency Management Team was able to work with the Muncie Teachers Association to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to clarify how teachers would reimburse the district for higher insurance premiums for the last two contract years as determined by the last best contract offer accepted by the Indiana Education Employment Relations (IEERB) Board in this past spring. If the district is successful in collecting the total reimbursement, it will be approximately $720,000.

Have you discussed with law enforcement the potential to press criminal charges against anyone?

  • We are not in a position to suggest any criminal actions have occurred.

What has Mr. Edwards done with the money the teachers’ gave him for his campaign?

  • He was required to file financial disclosure forms with the county. Anyone seeking more detailed information about the financial aspects of Mr. Edwards’ campaign is directed to the county and Mr. Edwards’ financial disclosure forms.

Does EM anticipate the state will exercise a complete takeover of MCS after  Dec. 31?

  • This is not a question the Emergency Management Team can answer.

Have any steps been taken to have Ball State takeover public education in Muncie?

  • No

What have you done specifically to assist with transportation issues? I have heard a rumor you have recommended retaining the current company? Is that true? Why?

  • The Emergency Management Team is reviewing the operation of the transportation system. No formal recommendation has been made by the Emergency Management Team.

Who did you discuss the date with before scheduling this event on one of the busiest days of the Muncie calendar? Did the MCS board or administration approve this date? Did you check with them beforehand?

  • It was certainly never our intention to create a conflict with such a popular event. We involved a number of people in the decision, including district employees, and publically announced the date early in Sept. There was not a red flag raised until we were too close to change the date and reorganize.
  • For those who were unable to attend the town hall, we will do our best to make sure all information, including questions and answers, is available on the website   mcsfinanceupdate.org which can be found under the Finance tab on the Muncie Schools webpage.
  • In addition, video broadcasts will be available soon.

Why don’t retirees have their insurance back yet?

  • This is a legal matter that the Emergency Management Team cannot respond to at this time.

Are the e-mails you send for this work all subject to FOIA? Are you willing to put copies of all documents and reports you have made to the state available for the public to see? If not, why not. If so, when?

  • FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) applies only to government agencies. AA (Administrator Assistance) is not a governmental agency. However, AA is employed by a governmental agency, DUAB (Distressed Unit Appeals Board), pursuant to the statute. DUAB is ultimately responsible for the emergency manager, so these kinds of questions should be directed to DUAB.
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