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MUNCIE, Ind. – Ball State’s president has picked the new Muncie school board, as the university gets ready to formally take control of the school district on Sunday.

90 people applied for Geoffrey Mearns’ five appointments, with 20 more seeking nominations from the city council and Mayor Dennis Tyler. The final mix includes two attorneys, an administrator and an instructor at Ball State, a pastor, a bank CEO, and the executive director of the Muncie YWCA.

Mearns says he was looking for “servant leaders” with a track record of dedication to community service, and wanted at least one member with financial experience and at least one with operational experience. He boasts the new board is diverse, and well equipped to guarantee a quality education to Muncie’s graduates.

Legislators abolished the elected board and handed Ball State the task of running the district amid frustration with a decade of deficit spending in the district. Mearns says declining enrollment left the district with less funding from the state, but says past administrations failed to live within the district’s means. And he says the enrollment declines reflect both a drop in population and decisions by some parents that Muncie couldn’t deliver academically.

Five board members are graduates of the Muncie schools, and Ball State instructor Brittany Bales once taught there.

Selma attorney Mark Ervin will be the only board member who doesn’t live in Muncie. 

Ball State’s trustees unanimously approved Mearns’ picks. Tyler and the city council each got to nominate three people for the remaining spots, with Mearns making the final choice of one name from each of their lists. Four of the board members will serve full four-year terms, while one seat will come open for reappointment or replacement in each of the next three years.

Along with Bales and Ervin, the new board members are attorney Jim Williams, Ball State associate vice president James Lowe, Mutual Bank CEO Dave Heeter, Destiny Christian Church pastor Keith O’Neal, and YWCA executive director Watasha Barnes Griffin.

(Photo: RTV6)