All five bills on the docket for Monday’s special session of the Indiana General Assembly were approved. One measure, House Bill 1315, which concerns Ball State University’s management of Muncie Community Schools and changes to oversight of the Gary Community School Corp., received significant discussion in the House and Senate. Only a handful of Republicans, who have a supermajority in both bodies, joined Democrats in voting against the bill, which heads to Governor Eric Holcomb for signature.
The Ball State Board of Trustees is slated Wednesday to vote on the takeover and board appointment process for the local school district. If approved, the Ball State-appointed board for Muncie Schools would begin July 1. Following the House and Senate approvals, Ball State University President Geoff Mearns said "I am grateful to Governor 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."
The House approved it by a 63-30 margin and it cleared the Senate 34-14. Representative Mike Karickhoff (R-30) is deputy speaker pro tempore, his district includes parts of Howard and Grant counties and he voted for the measure. During testimony, he said HB 1315 is good legislation. "As I’ve sat on Ways and Means for the last eight years, we’ve incrementally tried to hold accountable these school boards. What’s happening in Muncie is more recent than what’s going on in Gary. It’s a good bill. We’re doing the right thing," he said.
Rep. Sue Errington (D-34), whose district covers Muncie, voted against the bill. She said the message sent to her constituents is "the General Assembly is saying ‘you are so bad. You voters are so bad, you elect the wrong people, that we’re going to take away your right to vote for your school board. We’re going to give it to Ball State’s trustees to make those decisions, and oh yes, they aren’t all going to come from the Muncie school district.’"
Additional bills approved by the General Assembly involve $5 million for school safety measures, two bills tweaking the state’s tax code and a technical corrections measure. You can view materials related to the bills by clicking here.
State Senator Ryan Mishler (R-9) says the bill’s impact goes beyond the schools.
State Senator Eddie Melton (D-3), a Gary native whose district includes the Lake County city, discussed the impact of HB 1315.
State Representative Mike Karickhoff (R-30) voted for HB 1315 and called it good legislation.
State Representative Sue Errington (D-34), who voted against the bill, said the schools legislation sends a message to her constituents.