MUNCIE, Ind.–Ball State’s partnership with Muncie schools is one of a kind. The university took over after the state legislature granted permission two years ago. Ball State Pres. Geoffrey Mearns believes it’s helped the school district immensely and that the partnership is not likely to end any time soon.
“The legislation that was passed two sessions ago does not have an end date,” he said. “This is gonna be a long-term partnership. This is gonna be a long-term challenge.”
The public school district was suffering from crippling financial problems and sagging enrollment. Mearns believes Ball State’s stewardship has helped turn that around.
“We’ve got outstanding people They bring extraordinary, complimentary skills to the task. They bring a common passion for public K-12 education,” said Mearns, of the school board that was appointed by the university, and is now responsible for the day to day operations and administration of money for the district.
“In just a very short period of time, about 15 months, they’ve stabilized enrollment, they’ve balanced the budget. There actually was a budget surplus last year for the first time pergaps in a generation, in the Muncie Community Schools.”
Mearns said that surplus went to supplemental pay for teachers last year and to raises this year. He said it’s the first raises they’ve had in ten years.
“Perhaps most importantly, there’s a sense of optimism about the future,” said Mearns, who said Muncie’s future and feeling about it is closely tied to the way the community feels about the school system.
Audio titled GEOFFREY MEARNS INTERVIEW ENROLLMENT AND MUNCIE by 93WIBC
As far as the future of Ball State, that may be closely tied to the present, which is a record for the school’s population. Mearns credits the 22,541 students’ decisions to study there to the school’s improvement and diversity of programs, new buildings and facilities, new programs and individual attention and passion from the faculty.
“Our talented dedicated faculty and staff are personally committed to the success of our students.”
He said the university has increased its presence in Indianapolis. Part of that is on the Angie’s List campus, where classes began in August. Mearns said the students who are choosing Ball State are high-quality, with a record freshman class.
“We are particularly pleased that the new freshmen, they were not only the largest freshman class in our history, they were also the most academically qualified class in our history. The median GPA of those students was more than 3.5,” he said.
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