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Time Runs Out on Ball State School Takeover Plan

March 16, 2018
 
 

Plans to give Ball State University control over the financially troubled school district in its home of Muncie, Ind., collapsed Wednesday night as the state’s Legislature failed to advance a law by a midnight deadline.

Indiana lawmakers did not act on the controversial and virtually unprecedented plans before the end of their 2018 legislative session. Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature had been pushing a bill to permanently replace the five-member elected school board for Muncie Community Schools with a seven-person board appointed by Ball State. University leaders had been supportive of the idea.

The legislation was widely expected to pass despite concerns it would strip teachers of collective bargaining rights and deprive residents of local control. Amendments attempting to address the local concerns were added in the Senate, but the bill was subsequently held up in conference committee because its author from the state House of Representatives disagreed with the changes, according to The Star Press.

Lawmakers were unable to find a signed copy of a conference committee report on the bill as minutes ticked toward midnight in a scene the newspaper described as chaos. Governor Eric Holcomb issued an order to extend the session by an hour, but legislative leaders were uncertain about the legality of continuing proceedings. Lawmakers were left decrying the legislative sausage-making process.

A special session is still possible, but political considerations could prevent one from being called in an election year. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said the Legislature would be back next year.

The collapse of the legislation means Muncie Community Schools will continue to be run by an emergency management firm named by the state.

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