A new day for Muncie IN Community Schools

One high school, 100 new teachers, administrators await new school year

By Rick Yencerr

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - After a year of turmoil over money, buses and school consolidation, Muncie Community Schools looks forward to a new year and a Central High School that the community can take pride.

That was Dale Basham's upbeat message to the Muncie Community School Board and administrators on Thursday as work continues to ready Central for twice as many students after the board voted to close Southside and make it a middle school.

Basham, interim principal at Central, has been working with a crew to get the school ready for an Aug. 11 opening.

Meanwhile, Supt. Tim Heller has been interviewing and hiring teachers at a rapid pace after 65 retirements and resignations were made after the close of the school year in June.

Add another 30 administrators and service staff, and more than 100 new employees will become part of MCS by August.

And that includes a new Central principal after Tom Jarvis retired. And there's also change in the front office with the retirements of Mark Burkhart, financial officer, and Lon Sloan, human resources director.

Chip Mehaffey, a former school athletic director, is now chief financial officer, and found his first job Thursday was to recommend more than $4 million in spending cuts because of state tax controls.

While most of the money comes out of capital and transportation funds, the school system just borrowed $10 million repaid by taxpayers to repair schools. And Rainy Day money was used to cover school bus costs.

And Heller explained with the large number of retirements and resignations, there were no teacher layoffs with the consolidation of the high schools.

Basham said the eyes of the community were on the school system to ensure a great school year with one high school. And he said employees and administrators were working toward making the transition seamless.

The school system has not found a replacement for Sloan who still works as a consultant overseeing the new hiring. He recommended hiring nearly 20 new teachers on Thursday.

And the school board has given no clue who might lead Central although there's been talk the ever popular Basham will be around a while longer.

The school board did agree not to put the old Wilson Middle School on the state's charter school list. The last vacant school school, Garfield, was taken over by the Muncie Housing Authority that allowed a charter school to start which took more than 100 students out of Muncie schools.

State law still allows a charter school to take vacant public schools if they can operate within a year. There has been no talk of a charter wanting Wilson although the building is only 20 years old.