FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 8, 2018
In his first board meeting since the state-mandated takeover, Emergency Manager Steve Edwards addressed the Muncie School Board and community members tonight. In his opening statement he announced that the Emergency Managers, “will continue the schedule of regular MCS board meetings for the primary purpose of informing the board and the public, in a public setting, of decisions that are being made in the interest of Muncie Community Schools.”
Edwards then moved to his report which clarified the responsibilities of the Emergency Manager with the takeover, provided an update on the fiscal health of the school district and defined financial goals.
Responsibilities of the Emergency Manager
As defined by the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB), the Emergency Manager shall assume and exercise all the power, authority, and responsibilities of both the Board and the Superintendent. Working through the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board, the Emergency Management Team (EMT) assumes leadership and management of all facets of the school system operation from financial oversight as well as instructional, academic, curricular and non-educational programming.
Edwards said that, although the EMT will be responsible for making decisions and providing leadership, they wish to work as much as possible in a collaborative fashion with the Board and all staff.
“We believe in shared leadership and value the input of all stakeholders. There are many good things occurring in MCS, and the EMT wants to support or even enhance those things where and when possible,” Edwards said.
Differences the public may notice will primarily be in Board meetings in that:
- The Board will not vote on agenda items; it is the responsibility of the Emergency Manager to approve agenda items.
- The Board will provide input for the Emergency Manager’s consideration when appropriate.
- Since the Board does not vote or make motions on agenda items, the Emergency Manager will adopt, authorize or approve agenda items as necessary.
Six months progress toward financial stability
Edwards expressed the concern in July of 2017, about the district being to pay all its bills through December, and recapped six months of progress:
- Refinanced the debt and gained approximately $1.9 million for 2017.
- Sold Northside Middle School for $1.27 million to Ball State.
- Gained permission for a Maintenance of Effort Waiver for Special Education to provide an increased cash flow this fall for MCS of approximately $400,000.
- Realized approximately $203,000 increased revenue through the retroactive payment of higher health insurance premiums by current MCS teachers for the past two contract years. From all teachers, current and former, the district potentially will receive $720,000 reimbursement over this fall and next year.
- Realized additional savings due to the staffing cuts MCS made prior to the start of the current school year.
Financial goals for MCS
“Although MCS revenue was greater than its expenditures in 2017,” explained Edwards, “it is important to keep in mind the money generated from the sale of Northside Middle School is one-time money and the district still has a sizeable General Fund deficit. Last summer’s staffing cuts will continue to have a positive impact, as well as the new teachers’ contract with a savings in health insurance costs, but there is still considerable work to do as we look forward to the coming year.”
- Reduce expenditures to approximately $38 million.
- Reach out to the legislature and determine if there might be help in addressing the GO Bond obligation.
- Implement the line item budget developed by CFO Bob Coddington and live within its scope.
- Decrease the trend of rapid loss of student enrollment to increase revenue.
- Continue the work with the City and the Mayor to complete the agreements for the City helping fund capital repairs at EWA and South View.
- Seek out avenues of additional community support.
Edwards closed his comments with, “This is our school corporation and the most important stakeholder is our students. We must all work together to make MCS the best it can be for the benefit of our students.”