By: Marc Ransford—
MUNCIE, Indiana — Today, the Ball State University Board of Trustees appointed a new seven-member board to govern the Muncie Community Schools (“MCS”).
“I am grateful that these seven leaders are willing to assume this important new responsibility of overseeing the future of our local schools. I am confident they will serve with skill, courage, civility, and compassion,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “Each member of this new board has a passion for Muncie and our public schools. I appreciate their dedication to our children and to our community.”
Ball State’s Board of Trustees approved five board members recommended by President Mearns. President Mearns also appointed to the MCS board one member recommended by Mayor Tyler and one member recommended by the Muncie City Council.
Starting on July 1, the new MCS board will consist of:
- Brittany Bales, instructor of special education, Ball State
- WaTasha Barnes Griffin, executive director, YWCA of Muncie
- Mark Ervin, attorney, Beasley & Gilkison LLP
- Dave Heeter, CEO, MutualBank
- Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management, Ball State
- Keith O’Neal, lead pastor, Destiny Christian Center
- Jim Williams, attorney, DeFur Voran
The new school board will spend two years creating a long-term plan for MCS. The first year will be dedicated to gaining community input about the future of the schools.
The community has already embraced the partnership between Ball State and MCS, said Rick Hall, Chairman of the Ball State Board of Trustees.
“Over the last several months, we have worked to forge this partnership that has one goal: to unite the community behind providing a superior education for Muncie’s children,” said Chairman Hall. “Appointing this talented and committed board is a very important next step in the process.”
The new school board was created to replace an emergency manager as a result of House Bill 1315, which was approved in May by the Indiana State Legislature. The financially-struggling school district was placed under state control in 2017.
In other business today, the Board approved a new $388.7 million general-fund budget for 2018-19.
President Mearns cited prudent internal management, the dedication of faculty and staff, and support from state lawmakers to craft the budget.
“Today’s vote is a testament to the financial strength of Ball State University and the leadership of our Board,” he said. “It’s an exciting time at Ball State as we charge into our next century with a new strategic plan, a new College of Health, new academic and residential buildings under construction, and new philanthropic and academic endeavors.”
The President also noted that the University strives to create a budget that balances affordability for students attending Ball State while providing sufficient funding to retain talented faculty and staff.
In 2017, the Board approved a 1.25 percent increase in tuition for 2018-19, the smallest in more than 40 years. Also in 2017, the Indiana General Assembly approved a 1.7 percent increase for Ball State’s operating appropriations for fiscal year 2018-19. State appropriations represent about a third of the University’s general-fund budget.
The Board also voted for a 2 percent increase in the salary funding pool for faculty and professional employees. An additional $204,000 was allocated for faculty promotions.
The Board also approved:
- The budget and scope of a residence hall as part of the second phase of the new North Residential Neighborhood. Board members reviewed the design for the $60 million, five-story building that will accommodate 510 residents when it opens in 2021 and will serve as a living-learning community for students in Teachers College.
- The budget and scope of the $87.5 million Foundational Sciences Building, which is the second phase of the replacement of Cooper Science Complex.
About Ball State University
Founded in 1918 and located in Muncie, Ball State is one of Indiana’s signature universities and an economic driver for the state. The University’s 2017-18 enrollment — 22,513 — is the largest in school history, and its freshman class of 4,002 was just three students shy of tying a school record. Every Indiana county is represented among Ball State’s student body, as are all 50 states and 68 countries. Ball State’s 731-acre campus is large enough to accommodate premier facilities and 19 NCAA Division I sports but small enough to ensure the friendliness, personal attention, and access that are the hallmarks of the University, where 90 percent of classes are taught by faculty.