MUNCIE — The Indiana House on Monday voted 63-30 along party lines for a bill authorizing Ball State University to start governing financially distressed Muncie Community Schools starting July 1.
Several hours later, House Bill 1315 was approved 34-14 by the Senate in another vote. After it is signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has said he backs it, Ball State will appoint a newly created seven-member school board to replace the current elected five-member school board.
The university's board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for 4 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the school board selection process and next steps.
"The legislation passed by substantial margins in both chambers, and I anticipate that Gov. Holcomb will promptly sign the bill into law," BSU President Geoffrey S. Mearns informed the university community via email.
"I am grateful to Gov. Holcomb and to all of the members of the General Assembly who expressed their confidence in the collective ability of our university and our local community to overcome the challenges that are presently impeding progress at MCS.
"And I am grateful to all of the people — Muncie residents, community leaders, parents, and MCS teachers and staff, as well as our faculty, staff, students, and alumni — who expressed their support for HB 1315. Your encouragement gives me great optimism that, working together as equal partners, we will provide an exceptional educational experience for all of the children of Muncie."
Muncie and the even-more distressed Gary Community Schools can't continue to educate children "like we did in the 1940s and 1950s," said Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, author of the bill, during floor debate. "If you look at the population maps for the next 10 to 15 years, Delaware and Lake counties are expected to lose more than 10 percent of their population, so it has to be a different system … To say we are doing it the same way is just banging our head against the wall."
Both Gary and Muncie currently are controlled by state-appointed emergency managers.