In the first meeting since the state began its attempt to take over Muncie Community Schools, the school board was presented with plans to reduce the school district's debt.
The facilities committee proposed a plan that would eventually close four elementary schools and sell off Northside Middle School.
The administration, however, recommended that Northside Middle School, Sutton Elementary, Storer Elementary and Mitchell Elementary be closed, but no timeline for the closings was offered.
In total, those schools have 1,471 students and will likely be consolidated into other area schools, board members said.
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Hundreds of parents, teachers and students showed up to the meeting and made emotional pleas to the board to not close their schools.
A former Muncie Community Schools employee, Leslie Weaver, made her thoughts known when she approached the microphone wearing a "Baule Must Go" shirt — referencing Muncie Community School superintendent Steve Baule.
"If you can't fire Dr. Baule, then I suggest I want all of your resignations," Weaver said.
Things began to get heated toward the end of the public comments, with most of angry comments directed toward Baule.
Northside Middle School teacher Vicki Jeffers went to the microphone and said she had been told the Northside Middle School would be the first to go.
Baule, who was irritated by previous "personal attacks" at the board meeting, responded quickly.
“That is simply not true and you need to sit down," Baule said to Jeffers.
Jeffers attempted to keep speaking, but the police officer present ushered her to sit down. The crowd preceded to boo Baule. One woman in the crowd called him the "biggest bully in MCS."
Baule later continued and said the key to "getting through this as a community" is by looking at the facts
and "leaving the feelings to the side."
"That always tough
for people, but in reality that's what you have to do to get through
this," Baule said.
School board president Debby Feick said she understands why parents are angry and added it's difficult for everyone involved.
"We've ramped up our families to be active participants and now we're saying we want you change that loyalty and go to another school building," Feick said. "It's very difficult, it's very emotional."
The school board decided to postpone voting on any budget reduction plans until community meetings take place where community members will be able to voice their thoughts.
The next board meeting is scheduled for May 9.