Update:  

ORSANCO (Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission) last week voted unanimously to table the proposal which would eliminate their Ohio River Pollution Control Standards.  

Thanks to all who submitted comments directly and/or wrote the governor asking him to communicate with Indiana’s three commissioners. 

The public response was overwhelmingly opposed to this change in ORSANCO’s role, which would leave the responsibility up to individual states along the river. 

They meet again mid-Feb, so stay tuned!

Writing letters to your government officials WORKS!

 

The Star Press reports at least three articles from each board meeting, so earlier in the month new material for this newsletter wasn’t obvious. But the October 9 work meeting, the first for this board, had no press in attendance. The agenda included four topics: a possible Career Tech Education (CTE) arrangement with Vincennes University, school improvement plans, the leadership search, and Advisory Board (former elected board members).

Several years ago Vincennes approached the State Legislature and received $3.7M for CTE funding. There are now 17 school sites across the state with unique work force development tailored to local employment needs; none are in East Central Indiana. At Ben Davis, in Indianapolis, Vincennes established a small (400 student) high school of identical demographics. 100% are completing graduation with 80% earning an AA degree. Career tech is industry focused. Board President Jim Williams stressed the need in the Muncie community; local employers report middle-class paying jobs they cannot fill. Vincennes would bring a more robust career tech presence. It would not compete with Ivy Tech early college programs and would augment the existing MACC (Muncie Area Career Center) vocational program. For example, there are precision manufacturing machines that MACC doesn’t have. Retiring State Senator Doug Eckerty has been involved in the Vincennes approach and volunteered to work at no cost with MACC administrator, Steve Edwards (acting MCS superintendent) and local employers to identify work force needs in this area. The Board agreed to take this next step.

Three topics re-emphasized the unique MCS district created by the legislature. 1) All Muncie schools have completed a new school improvement plan. President Jim Williams reminded the Board that MCS schools don’t have to report their improvement progress to the state. 2) The Board is unlikely to use a traditional path to hiring a school leader, and that person may not be called a superintendent. (The money raised by BSU at the time of the legislation will pay for the search firm, as the traditional university-based superintendent searches have no cost.) The Board is looking for a charismatic leader with operational competence and an innovative spirit, who will focus on “collaboration with teachers and rigorous accountability unrelated to standardized texting”. It will be interesting to watch the structure for teacher collaboration develop, as the Board will not be utilizing traditional teacher organizations.

The Board recently surveyed teachers about qualities desired in a new educational leader. While the Board President commented that the information was “very useful”, he didn’t report what percentage of MCS teachers participated. Finally, four members of the former MCS Board attended the meeting to discuss the Advisory role they might take. Not surprisingly, the conversation was a bit awkward. Two agreed to work with a new board member on a specific project: academic dashboard and facilities. The Community Advisory Board (composed of unselected school board applicants) is meeting regularly to create their role.

Board meetings sites rotate between MACC and a school. Each school uses the first part of that meeting (about 45 minutes) to showcase their program and students.

 Voter Services registered over one hundred voters this fall as well as handing out absentee ballot request forms and answering questions. Volunteers went to Ball State, the Second Harvest Tailgate, the Washington Street Festival, Muncie Central High School, and other locations. We received help from Delta Sigma Theta and the NAACP.

     Nicole Etcheson gave a talk about “Why You Should Vote” to two Ball State elementary education classes. Nicole and Cindy Peters presented on “What Happens When You Vote” and had a table at the Whitley Neighborhood Association. (Stacey Ingram prepared the presentation but was unable to be there.) 

   The League, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State, and the Star-Press sponsored three candidate forums in October for state senators, state representatives, county commissioner, county council, and county officer candidates. The Bowen Center provided moderators Charles Taylor and Darren Wheeler. Robin Gibson of the Star-Press covered the forums. Delta Sigma Theta provided volunteers. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

    Vote411, the League’s website with candidate answers to questions, finally has information about Muncie-Delaware County candidates. Thanks to Teresa Basey for her tech savvy in getting it up and running. Please check it out and spread the word.

    Finally, MITS is providing bus service to the driver’s license branch for voters to get their voter identification. Buses leave from the downtown bus station on the hour and half hour as needed. This service will run the week before the election and on election day. Please pass the word about this service.

The Vote by Mail program on Saturday, 14 October, provided compelling information to support Vote by Mail legislation in the next session of our legislature—not least of which is that it would save Indiana tax payers an estimated $4.4 million dollars!

Indiana Vote by Mail is a non-partisan organization working to enact legislation to simplify the voting process, eliminate voting lines, and increase voter participation. Barb Tully and Jenny Young addressed barriers to voting that would be eliminated by enabling Vote by Mail and cited successes in Oregon and Colorado—with greatly increased voter participation.

How Does Vote by Mail Work?

  • Ballots are mailed to every registered voter prior to election.
  • Ballots are secure and trackable throughout the process.
  • Electronic scanning registers ballots and verifies voter identification.
  • The process eliminates the possibility of ineligible voters and anyone voting more than once.
  • Voters can still choose to vote at a polling site.

Linda photographed this drop box in Limon, CO, in August.