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Potential Ball State Takeover of Muncie Schools Would Be a First

Bosma, Long say they don't know if legislature would use move as template for troubled districts in future

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Ball State could soon be in charge of the Muncie schools. But don't necessarily expect a similar approach in other troubled school districts. 

The House may vote next week on a bill disbanding the Muncie school board, and putting the district under Ball State's control. Last year, legislators appointed a financial manager to help the troubled district. But House Speaker Brian Bosma says with continuing financial difficulties, including a construction bond issue being used to pay for daily operations, the state has to look at more dramatic action.

Indiana law says the state can take over a school district for persistent poor academic performance and hire an outside manager to turn things around. That law's been used only once, when the state took control of four schools in Indianapolis and one in Gary in 2012. But this would be the first time legislators have orchestrated a takeover instead of the State Board of Education, and the first time it's been done for financial reasons, not educational reasons. 

Bosma notes the takeover legislation is still in progress, but says he has complete confidence in Ball State's ability to handle the task. The university is a linchpin of the community, already operates charter schools, and has a robust School of Education. Senate President Pro Tem David Long says a takeover might give prospective teachers studying at Ball State a prime training opportunity. 

But Bosma and Long both say they don't know if they'll turn to universities to run schools elsewhere. Long says every situation is unique.

(Photo: Jetta Productions/Thinkstock)

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