Muncie IN schools name women principals, athletic director

Dale Basham serves as interim principal at Central in spring

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -   Three women will serve as administrators at Muncie Central High School and the new Southside Middle School in 2014.

Rebecca Thompson, who serves as Southside High principal, will stay at the school as its principal after its transitions into a middle school.  Thompson has been in a classroom for 37 years and taught at Blackford High before coming to Muncie schools. And she has been principal at Southside High for a decade and has a master's of education from Ball State.

 Suzanne Crump, an assistant principal at Central, will become the consolidated high school's athletic director, among the few women ADs in the state. She also as AD at Cowan  and taught at Marion High School. Her experience in evaluating and managing athletic programs besides case management of special needs students got her the athletic job.

 Chip Mehaffey, the present Central AD, will be AD on assignment in the business office this spring as Mehaffey trains to become the chief financial officer when longtime finance chief Mark Burkhart retires in 2014. Burkhart masterminded the tax referendum to fund bus service which failed along with handling financing that accumulated a $50 million debt for the school system and its other taxpayers.

 Among the four assistant principals at Central was Kim Kowalski, now assistant principal at Southside High, along with Phil Seale, Justin Oliver, and Jack Bimber.

The issue of female administrators was a concern by some Muncie teachers after school Supt. Tim Heller and the Muncie Community School Board put three males in the front office of the consolidated Central.

 Tom Jarvis was appointed principal at Central, but the school board, on Heller's recommendation, decided to bring back Dale Basham as an interim principal in the spring while Jarvis moves to the front office and plans for the transition. Muncie schools will pay Basham $50,000 for the temporary assignment.  High school principals in Muncie average about $100,000 annually.

Basham has worked for Muncie schools as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal and other administrative positions besides elected to the Muncie Community School Board .

 Heller said the appointment were based on qualification and not out of concern for the lack of female administrators. Muncie schools have numerous female administrators besides Ermalene Faulkner, who is chief academic officer for MCS.

The school board, led by Bev Kelley, accepted the latest administrative recommendations, adding the transition should be smooth with a plan in place in the spring.

The closing of Southside High outraged many parents and south Muncie residents who vowed to oust the current school board in the 2014 election. 

School officials blended both Central and South administrators at the consolidated Central. And it will be the same with teachers.

Bimber is an assistant principal at Southside while Seale and Oliver are assistant principals at Central.

Muncie schools will have two fewer administrators with one high school and at least five or six fewer teachers.