2021 – December 8th – (Part 2) Live Notes from the HSE School Board Meeting

The following are a continuation of my notes from the 12/08/2022 Hamilton Southeastern School Board meeting. These notes were typed in real time and might contain errors. For the most accurate coverage, simply watch the video of the meeting on the HSESchools website. You can find part on of this coverage AT THIS LINK.

6.04 High School New Course Proposal

New High School courses proposed for 2021-22 are the following:

  • Applied Music: Advanced Vocal Studio-4200
  • Plant and Soil Science-5170
  • Engineering Essentials-7199Discovering Literature-English L111
  • Discovering Literature-English L111

These courses were talked about in detail at the previous school board meeting, so a lot of comments won’t be repeated here. You can find descriptions of the meetings on the Board Docs site.

*** Board discussion

Brad Boyer asked how the Applied Music class again. Indicated it is a very small group to be dedicating a lot of resources to this. In response to this, it was stated that a teacher conducted a survey to determine interest in the class. Over 50 students expressed interest, however, the course would have a cap of 20 students. It was stated, however, that they might be able to bump the class up to as many as 25 students.

It was asked what would prevent the music class from having just 3 kids? The answer was that with the results of the survey, they would be surprised if there were less than the allotted amount.

My Comment: This discussion shows a bit of a lack of understanding of how courses work at the high schools. Many courses are offered that don’t end up happening or that are not offered every year. When courses are offered, if they don’t get enough kids to justify dedicating a teacher, then the course is dropped. As an example, Constitutional Law was offered at Fishers High School this year but was dropped due to a low enrollment number. The kids that signed up for the course had to choose an alternative. That’s how it works. The school has a limited budget and teachers are in the highest cost category, so doing a class with only 3 kids would be hard to justify financially.

*** Public comment ***

My system glitched and missed the first part of this)

(1)  xxx

Speaker from previous meeting. Again, brought up science course. Again, pushed that the courses sound like indoctrination. Asked who it was teaching. Also asked what courses were being dropped for these? Commented that they should be able to see more details on the curriculum of what is being taught. Said music class still sounds like private lessons.

My Comment: Related to what this person stated about having engineers teach the engineering course. I am friends with several professional trainers in the technology space. I am friends and know a lot of people who have written the training materials for technical training classes. Most professional trainers know how to teach technical topics using the materials provided. Teaching and training are a skill, and frankly, many technical people don’t have them at the level to teach in a classroom. Those that think it is easy have likely not done it. If they have done it, then they likely used materials they didn’t write.

*** Board comment ***

It was stated by the administration that these courses don’t replace existing courses. This was also stated at the previous meeting, so the speaker should have been aware. It was also stated that any new courses cannot and don’t replace core courses — they can’t because the core courses are required by the State.

One board member commented that it is great that we are able to offer such courses. The Discovering Literature course is an IU course, so HSE can’t change its curriculum because that would preclude kids being able to get the college credit. (My comment: Yes, our high schools offer a lot of courses that can be used to get college credit.)

Dr. Kegley has said that the high school schedule has always been student driven. The courses are offered by the district, but what gets taught is based on what courses enough students have expressed interest in taking – while still requiring kids to meet state requirements.

Voted – Passed 6-2 – Suzanne Thomas and Brad Boyer voted against these courses being added.

6.05 HSE School Board Electoral Districts

There are two district options presented. Suzanne Thomas again asked that an option C be included as well. The board has to approve lines by the end of the fiscal year.

*** Public Comments ***

(1) Tina
The truth will set us all free. Why are we still engaging in political divides? School boards are supposed to be non-partisan. Clearly something changed at the last board meeting because someone brought in a person that was as democratic champion for drawing the lines. What is going on needs to be addressed. People need to be aware because a single board member took it upon themselves that these maps should be drawn. This seems like a conflict of interest. Questioned integrity and said it is wrong. Said this should be an entire board’s decision. Remember that tables can be turned. She hopes those will ill intent…

(2) Kim
She was also concerned with the gentleman that was used to do the lines. She is on the planning commission of Fishers, but she would have hired a professional company. She felt that the person used was to deep in one political party to have been used. She encouraged that a firm should have been used. She does support plan B, but she is not an expert. This should be done so it is seen as being done with integrity.

*** Board questions and comments ***

My comment: There were a lot of comments in this section of the meeting. My notes likely don’t do the coverage of the discussion justice. The images for the districts can be found online. Whether there is gerrymandering in what was presented is up for everyone to decide on their own. There are those that have stated the proposals provided originally through Julie Chamber’s work included gerrymandering, and there are those that indicated they believe what Suzanne Thomas presented were gerrymandered. Everyone will have to make their own decision on that.

*** Now the board questions and comments…

Suzanne Thomas commented that she felt the total shifts in districts 1 and 4 were concerning. She presented her own drawings for where she suggested the district lines be.

The hope is for the district maps to be used for 10 years, so they have to take into consideration growth. Michelle Fullhart commented that the lines can be redrawn by the board before the 10 years are up. Suzanne indicated that her presented plan was done to prepare for growth.

Julie Chambers commented that the charts that were being presented are not something that was created or done in secret. This was an open process that the board members were free to talk about, and she talked to a lot of the board members about the issues. Board members could have engaged. It had been brought up with the board in the past, so board members had the opportunity and could have been involved at any time.

Fullhart referenced that two speakers stated that there was jerrymandering, but the speakers gave no examples, nor has there been any examples of gerrymandering happening.

Suzanne commented about the growth and stated that district 2 is not likely to grow, so her proposal of a plan moved people over to district 2 to plan for growth.

My Comment:  If you watched the recent City Council meetings, you’d see that downtown Fishers is changing. There is a new Maple Del division being added as well as more multistory buildings with some including residences. There is also an apartment complex at 106th and Lantern that the City has been discussion that would had hundreds of living units. Recently, there was a large (hundreds) of residents being added south of The Yard as well. These 500+ living units are all district 2. Yes, Wayne Township is going to grow in gangbusters and the far East side of Fisher is still growing. Simply put, there is growth everywhere including district 2. City projections are 140,000 by 2040 for Fishers versus our roughly 100,000 now.

Sarah (?) talked about the history of the districts. She commented that a lot of the growth is going to be east of Olio. She provided a lot of detailed information. (see the video)

It was again commented that they could redo the district lines if necessary in four years for the next election.

Julie commented that paying an outside contractor to do the district lines wasn’t feasible. They weren’t going to pay a consultant to do what was the responsibly of the board. She stated that the person that did the charts simply looked at population and growth. She indicated that she was disappointed that flyers were passed around with the young man’s picture. The flyers included information on an articles that he wrote were on gerrymandering – ironically working against jerrymandering).

Suzanne commented that it was that the person was brought in as a surprise, which is what raised issues with the districts.

Julie indicated that there is nothing about the maps nor data that indicate any favoritism on these maps. Julie doesn’t know who has talked about these maps. (My comment: I assume this was referencing, “who in the community” with the assumption people have issues with the maps.) Brad Boyer indicated nobody had talked to him about them. Suzanne indicated that some people could be moved as a result of the lines.

Suzanne revised her map that was being presented this time based on board feedback.

Motion was made to approve District Map A and it was seconded.

There was discussion of some of the specific numbers. Numbers for districts from Clerk’s Office for Map A:

  • District 1 – 28176
  • District 2 – 29751
  • District 3 – 30476
  • District 4 – 30216

Vote was 5 -2 to pass Map A.  (Brad and Suzanne voted no)

My Comment: This is where the meeting jumped the rails a little…..

Suzanne motioned to amend to map her presented B1 map. Brad Boyer seconded the motion.

Michelle said that this motion doesn’t make sense since they had just voted and approved a map.

There was discussion on Robert’s Rules of Order. They went ahead and voted on the new motion even though the map had already been approved. (My comment: My guess is that they had a good idea of what the outcome of the vote would be, so it was the quickest way to get the meeting to move forward.)

The results of the vote were 1-6, so the motion didn’t pass. Suzanne only one to vote yes. It’s really odd for someone to second a motion and then vote against the motion.

6.06 Redefining Boundary Lines Final Plan

This is the Deer Creek Elementary school ‘redistricting’ item. 

Suzanne commented on the impact happening due to growth. She urged administration to do bigger survey now to do a redistricting for 2023-24 that is more solid and wide reaching. If there is or isn’t going to be a plan to do a survey in 2022 to prepare for a bigger redistricting, then it impacts her decision on which solution to select.

There was a comment/question on Deer Creek Elementary impacting Title 1 school. The district has 2 Title schools now. If there ends up being 3 Title schools, then the resources for servicing these schools would be spread across the three schools using the same budget that has been used for 2 schools. There are currently 2 teachers at each building and possibly an IA. It changes each year. The redistricting plan of B1 could turn Sand Creek into a Title 1 school, making it a third school. Granted shifts such as people moving in and out of the district and where people live could also impact whether a school is Title 1, regardless of the redrawn boundary lines.

My comment: Anyone pushing to do a full redistricting sooner rather than later seems like someone that has not been involved with a redistricting, especially a board member. That’s seemed like a brutal process.

Dr. Stokes was asked for her recommendation at this time. Dr. Stokes stated that in 2022, they need to continue looking at:

  • SES
  • HIJH
  • Fishers Elementary School
  • Feeder System

There is nobody that is looking at a district wide redistricting right now. The push was to ask when the administration would start looking a at a full redistricting. If we were building a new building, it would take 3 years to do a redistricting. We wouldn’t want to be redistricting or shifting every year, so they would like to have a plan for what buildings are needed before trying to do a full district change.

*** Public Comments ***

(1) Dan –
Attended work session. Proposed scenario D. Students would go to closes schools. This reduces chance of future changes to those same kids. Might be more kids switching now, but less chance of change in the future. This would be the second redistricting in 3 years for his neighborhood.
(My comment: This presenter was one of the better presenters I’ve seen at a board meeting. He was calm and presented his information clearly and will specific examples of the impact and issues. He looked beyond his own kids as well.

(2) Kurt – passed.

**** Board Comments ****

Reese indicated original D is the best in the long term. Julie commented that while C looks better because the numbers are a little lower for DES initially, but  (My comment: lost my notes here)

It was asked what the original projection for attendance was for Southeastern Elementary (SES) versus what the actual enrollment ended up being. Those numbers weren’t provided.

D.1 simply send more kids to Sand Creek and increased the chance of creating a third Title 1 school.

MOTION was made to approve Plan D. It was seconded. This allowed for discussion. Capacity was one issue (Projection was that this meant Deer Creek would open at around 88% capacity). This makes it more likely that people will get moved again.

Vote – passed 6 – 1 (Brad – no)

It was stated that there is a meeting on next week to talk about Fishers Elementary. It will be 3 or 4 years before they are able to look at/address the bigger picture.

7. Superintendent’s Report / Matters of Corporation Interest

Social media threats – District takes social media threats seriously. You can simply not make them. They are investigated.

Administrator comments – HSE is not unique in that we are receiving regular types of threats via social media or kids simply saying things. The question is always “how are we responding to these things”. Chief Gebhart is going to do a town hall on this next week to comment on how they address school threats. When we have school, it is because they deem the schools to be save

This will be a Zoom from 8:00pm to 9:00pm next Thursday, December 16th.

There was a quick update on Deer Creek Elementary Construction. Harry is going to do a drone fly through of inside (My comment: They could just walk with a camera or phone camera. I’m not sure they need a drone for the inside of a building… )

A couple highlights –  FHS was 1st for We The People. HSE HS was 2nd. FJH was 1st also first at their level. It’s cool to see HSE schools do so well in these academic competitions.  

There will be a Friday update with details on the Mask criteria for next year.

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