By: Brittany Bales, Jason Donati, and Pastor Andre Mitchell—
Editor’s note: In their own words, meet Mayor Dennis Tyler’s nominees for the MCS school board. Final candidates will be selected at the BSU Board of Trustee’s meeting on June 25, 2018. The candidates below are listed in alphabetical order.
Meet Brittany Bales
I believe MCS should focus on three main components: students and families, faculty and staﬀ, and finances. I am not naive enough to believe that a financial deficit can be remedied over night just as I am well aware that deficit did not occur overnight. However, I think that for too long many decisions were made only looking at the fiscal gain or loss and not at the student’s gain or loss. Somewhere along the way the focus was no longer about the students and I think we need to realign that focus.
In addition, I know, first-hand that when faculty and staﬀ feel appreciated they stay and thrive, and when they do not feel appreciated they will go where they do. It’s no secret that the MCS teacher base salaries pale in comparison to other corporations right here in Delaware County. Many fantastic educators have left MCS in the best interest of their own families fiscal well-being. We must find a way to keep the good teachers we have and draw good ones to MCS. Parents want their children to have great teachers so we need to make sure the teachers we have know that they are great and feel appreciated all the time.
When families are looking for a city to move to they often look at the schools. We want them to WANT to bring their children to MCS and we have to market the best things about our schools to do that. I think that sharing the great programs we already have is a start. For instance, sharing information about the preschool programs, the dual-language elementary program, and the dual-credit program at Central is a start. Why not build on those programs to attract more students? Perhaps an arts and theatre program at the elementary level, or immersive learning opportunities in the community, or hands-on career experiences, or more. We have to find more ways to positively market the district to students and families other than the newspaper.
I think that the partnership between BSU and MCS will allow programs to come to fruition that I believe should have been occurring all along. As a resident of Muncie, I think that having a University in our backyard is an untapped resource that we could be using for the students and families at MCS. I think that partnerships between various colleges on BSU’s campus and the schools throughout MCS will be developed to enrich academics, support professional development, develop after school programs, and immerse students from both MCS and BSU in hands-on learning experiences to enrich their futures.
I was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana and I could not be more proud to call this my hometown. I could have left but I chose to stay here, to raise my family here, and to try to have a positive impact on this community. I attended Muncie Community Schools myself and graduated with honors from Muncie Southside in 2004. I have since gone on to complete my bachelors (special education-intense interventions), masters (special education), and administrative (special education director) degrees at Ball State University. I am currently finishing my doctorate in Educational Leadership. My degrees are in education, which I think uniquely lends to my skills for serving on the board. My passion for working with individuals with special needs has led me to teacher preparation now, where I am a full-time teacher education instructor. I know that children are our future and to do my part to shape that future I decided years ago that I wanted to play a part in shaping the future educators who will mold our children.
I also had the privilege of working as a teacher for MCS for the first 5 years of my career, in which time I had the honor of creating some wonderful programs at the high school, working with the best educators in the state, and watching some of the most inspirational students graduate from MCS. I saw first-hand some of the amazing things happening at MCS that people outside the corporation are often unaware of.
I am also a mom, a parent to two wonderfully inspiring elementary-age humans. All my degrees and years of schooling have taught me a great deal about educating and meeting the needs of all students, but being a mom has also taught me that what a child learns and does in a classroom exists in a realm far outside a textbook.
I am passionate about Muncie, about education, and about helping children. These things have literally been my life’s work thus far. I believe this passion qualifies me, and am I invested in this city, the schools, and the kids. At the beginning of this excerpt I said that I could not be more proud to call Muncie my hometown, but I think that I could be. I think that if when I mention Muncie, people’s first response is not about the fiscal demise of MCS and the negativity they’ve gleaned true based on the media, that would be great. If we can get to a place where we can begin to facilitate the change in people’s perceptions of MCS by flooding them with facts and knowledge about the great things happening and coming to MCS, if we can get to the place where the community support is so powerful that people outside Muncie have no choice but to notice, I think that’s when we can all be proud to call Muncie home and people will all want their children at Muncie Community Schools.
Push the play button below to listen to Brittany introduce herself during the public forum on June 12th.
Meet Jason Donati
I was elected by the great citizens of Muncie in November of 2016 to serve a 4-year term as a MCS Board of Trustees Member. Due to the adoption of HEA 1315 during the most recent special session, I will lose my elected seat on July 1st, 2018 because it dissolves the currently elected school board and gives authority to the Ball State Board of Trustees and the Ball State President to appoint 7 new appointed board members to oversee MCS. As you may be aware, HEA 1315 calls for the Mayor of Muncie to nominate 3 people, and call for the President of Ball State to select one candidate from the 3 nominations to serve a 4-year term. I am still passionately interested in serving my community and serving as a board member of MCS.
I believe this moment and transition in our corporation’s history is critical to the long-term sustainability and success of our school corporation. It is important that this process and transition be inclusive with the entire community, and that all stakeholders be brought to the table to help shape the future of our school district through each phase of planning and development. I believe I bring a unique voice and lots of experience in community organizing that can be beneficial to this process and planning.
By way of brief introduction, I have over 15 years of experience working in youth education. I am currently employed by the Muncie Sanitary District as the Stormwater and Recycling Educator. In addition, I proudly serve on many local non-profit boards including The Muncie Land Bank, the Cardinal Greenway, the Bike Muncie Committee, and as an advisory member of the Roy C. Buley Community Center and Muncie–Delaware Clean & Beautiful. Currently, I serve as President of the Muncie Urban Forestry Committee. I’m also a co-organizer of R.A.C.E. Muncie (Reconciliation Achieved through Community Engagement), which started in 2014 to promote reconciliation in our community through healthy dialogue and events.
We must continue to strive for the best educational opportunities that can be provided for our students and families in Muncie. This new partnership has great potential to offer innovative programs that can help improve the academic experiences of our students. I believe that we can come out of these present challenges stronger than ever before if we work together and promote inclusivity.
Push the play button below to listen to Jason introduce himself during the public forum on June 12th.
Meet Pastor Andre Mitchell
I believe I’m a good candidate for the new school board for several reasons.
I will keep my remarks to my involvement with education. I’ve volunteered, taught, mentored, and spoken in every county and city middle or high school except for two. I have done the same in several of our elementary schools as well. This has given me a unique perspective both inside and outside of our school systems. I have firsthand experience of the contrast and comparison between county schools and city schools. I also was on the committee that oversaw the merger of Muncie South and Muncie Central into one school.
I volunteered and coordinated clergy to be in the halls the first week of the merger to help with a smooth transition. I’ve also spoken on Purdue, Ball State, and Taylor campuses. My wife runs a home daycare that I’m trained and licensed to work at if needed. I’m on a board that provides annual scholarships to Motivate Our Minds. Basically, I’ve interacted with kids from preschool through college ages in various environments and settings in all socioeconomic classes. My passion is spiritual enrichment and ministry, but that path has led me to somehow intersect with all sectors of education. I would be bringing all this expertise to the board. My vision is to see a Muncie where economics doesn’t determine the way a child is educated.
I want to see both public and private schools thrive, because our city is diverse enough and strong enough to make certain all children have a quality education to launch their futures.
Push the play button below to listen to Pastor Mitchell introduce himself during the public forum on June 12th.