Back in 2012, Indiana became the second state after Michigan to pass an emergency manager law that allows the state to take control from locally, democratically elected leaders and put it into the hands of an appointed bureaucrat. The law covers any “distressed political subdivision” which, like in Michigan, includes municipalities or school districts. Furthermore, Indiana’s Emergency Managers have the power to, among other things:
- Review existing labor contracts
- Renegotiate existing labor contracts and act as an agent of the political subdivision in collective bargaining.
- Reduce or suspend salaries of the political subdivision’s employees.
- Enter into agreements with other political subdivisions for the provision of services.
In 2015, the state took over Gary schools.
Fast forward to today and, just like in Michigan, Indiana is finding that trying to fix systemic and intractable problems by cutting and gutting doesn’t actually work:
Indiana State Board of Education (ISBOE) member Tony Walker says he is frustrated with the lack of progress in the Gary Community School Corporation since the takeover by the state two years ago.
On July 31, 2017, the State of Indiana hired MGT Consulting to provide emergency management services for the Gary Community School Corporation.
Walker voiced his concerns during an October 2 meeting of the ISBOE held in the Indiana University Northwest Cultural and Science Building.
The previous day Walker and a representative from the governor’s office visited several of the schools in the district. He said during the visit to Westside Leadership Academy there were conditions that were very disturbing.“At Westside Leadership Academy there were ten buckets in the library that were catching water from a leaking roof and there is also mold in the library. All over the school the roof is leaking on the students. There is no excuse for the students not to be able to use the library or sit in class because of these conditions,” said Walker. […]
The issue of Roosevelt Career Academy was also discussed during the meeting.
Roosevelt students have been attending classes at the Gary Career Center since the school’s heating system broke down. The discussion about the fate of Roosevelt and where the students will attend class in the future remains undetermined at this time. While visiting the Gary Career Center, Walker said he observed students attending classes in garages.
If you were wondering if Indiana’s emergency management system is susceptible to corruption like Michigan’s is, wonder no more:
“Not only are [the Emergency Managers] not being responsible, the first emergency manager received a $250,000 bonus and shortly thereafter, she left. She took our kids’ money with her without providing any service to the schools,” said [Sixth District Councilwoman LaVetta] Sparks-Wade.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Emergency Managers are armed only with tools of DEstruction, not with tools of CONstruction. And you can’t cut your way to prosperity and educational success. It requires investment in infrastructure, training, and a host of other areas.
Unfortunately Indiana was not capable of learning from our mistakes.