The following are my notes from the Hamilton Southeastern School Board meeting on November 10, 2021. Because my notes are taken live during the meeting, there might typos, transcription errors, and such. To get the most accurate information, tune in and watch the live streams of the meetings or the posted recordings after the meeting on the HSESchools.org web site. The numbers next to the titles should align with the agenda items listed on the BoardDocs web site.
2.x – Snapshots of Success.
I joined this meeting a few minutes late, so I did not catch the Snapshot of Success presentation. I did catch, however, Michelle Fullhart’s stereotype of tech people that was roughly stated as “People who are good with coding are good with their computer, but not generally good with people.” Being a techy computer person myself (I just finished creating a Python book and am currently working on a GoLang book), it is sad to see that old stereotypes still exist in a world where so many people work with coding.
Regardless, the Snapshot of Success featured Aryadeep Buddha, who earned runner-up honors and best presentation/storytelling in the AT&T 5G Sports Hackathon presented by Indiana Sports Crop., Butler University, and Nextech. Congratulations go to Aryadeep.
3.x – Consent Agenda
Consent items 3.01 Board Minutes and 3.02 Certified and Support Staff Reports were approved 7-0 without discussion.
Item 3.03 was voted on separately. It passed 5-2 with Brad and Suzanne voting against.
Regarding 3.03, Brad Boyer stated that there was a comment earlier in the day, but no response. He asked if there was a response. Dr. Kegley addressed the concerns with International Institute for Restorative Practices (?) It was stated that this item is regarding disciple with students for students. He indicated this was to help to develop principles and strategies around what they want. Brad asked if this was related to the “restorative chat”? The answer was yes. It was also stated that they would like to do a train-the-trainer model with this program, and then have those that are trained provide the training for the rest of the staff. This would save long term cost.
Brad Boyer asked if this has been paid for. The answer from Dr. Kegley was no, not yet.
There was a discussion regarding Restorative Practices versus old school methods. They indicated this was discussed the previous day in the working session. Dr. Kegley stated in the past there might be a 2 day in-school suspension. When the suspended student then returned to class, they might still be mad about the issue. Now the system is set to help the student reflect on the issue and possibly offer apologies. The intent is to make the return to the daily routine more meaningful for the student. Dr. Stokes stated that the student should get a better chance to understand the action that occurred. Instead of just “putting kids out of school” (which hurts attendance), they work to get the kids to think about their actions and how their actions impact others.
Brad Boyer asked who provides the training. Dr. Kegley stated that is the International Institute of Restorative Practices. Dr. Kegley said this is a group that has been used before.
Michelle Fullhart asked if the selection of training companies are under the school board. I did not catch the answer.
Again, the vote passed 5-2 with Brad and Suzanne voting no. It was not indicated why Brad and Suzanne voted no.
4.01 – Public Comments
Dr. Stokes announced that Michael Ryan is starting as the assistant principal at Fall Creek Junior High. He comes from Brownsburg but indicated he had been at HSE prior to that. Separate posts have been made on Mr. Ryan and we welcome him to HSE Schools.
5.01 – Grounds Agreement Between HSE Schools and the City of Fishers
This is an agreement for maintaining the grounds and removing snow.
The City of Fishers has been providing grounds services and snow removal. The agreement hasn’t changed since 2013. On the grounds, they have asked for a 4.78% increase starting in January of 2022. That would be in place for 2 years, followed by a 3% increase every 2 years. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) renews every year, so this could be changed. The cost of this is just under half a million a year. Mr. Delks said that this is a great deal relative to what a private organization would do.
It was asked if we had ever considered local small vendors. Mr. Delks indicated that it was over a million dollars in the past when he priced it. He indicated that it could be over $2 million today. (My thought: Note this was all speculative and should be confirmed to know what the real cost would be.)
Michelle indicated that she would be hesitant to go get bids since you couldn’t guarantee they could get workers. (My thought: Why would you not still get bids to make sure the rate is as good as being implied? It’s simply good business practice to get price quotes even if you have a provider in mind.)
Dr. Stokes commented that we have a great partnership with the city.
For snow removal, the city charges for each piece of equipment they use. There are hourly charges, and these apply to snow events. They are asking for a 10% increase in 2022 and then another 10% in 2023, then a 3% increase every two years.
My Thoughts on this:
It is interesting that at previous meetings it had been commented that the City of Fishers contributes snow and other services to the school district. This has been used as a response for justification to offset the cost of taxes taken by TIF districts. It was implied that this was a million dollar service that the City provides. The implications were that this was at no cost. From this board meeting, it is clear that this is not a contributed service, but rather a discounted service for ground maintenance. It seems like the district has been paying for snow removal and at rates that don’t seem super discounted beyond getting salt and such at cost.
5.02 – New High School Course Proposal
New courses being proposed are:
- Applied Music: Advanced Vocal Studio-4200\
- Plant and Soil Science-5170 (2 semester course)
- Engineering Essentials-7199
- Discovering Literature-English L111
You can find more information on these courses on BoardDocs.
He hoped new courses would be focused on math and reading. What are the plans to use the $3 million relief funds to address the learning loss from Covid. The funds must be spent by 12/24 and parents would like to see how this will be applied.
The new courses sound bad on many levels. Replacing hard courses with feel good science courses. He spent 35 years in aerospace, etc. He has managed engineers, etc. The plant and soil science course is a ‘feel good’ course that sounds like an elementary schedule. The Engineering course sounds more like indoctrination on climate change. Who is teaching it? If taught by a real engineer, it could be a good course. Indicated that basically a teacher is not likely qualified (my words on that last sentence).
(My thoughts: The Covid funds have been mentioned in the pass and are unrelated to new course adoption. Assuming teaching is simply about knowledge of a topic is a failure to understand what it takes to teach. The qualification of “industry expert” doesn’t equate to having the capability to teach. An industry expert who is a poor teacher can do worse damage than using a professional teacher who is not an industry expert.
How will the new courses be funded? What courses would each of the new courses replace? He suggests that the new courses don’t replace more rigorous courses like math courses (algebra, geometry, etc.). Wants to make sure these fit in.
He then went into wanting to remove the mask mandate. He asked if Dr. Stokes planned to talk about this. (She indicated that she would.)
(My thoughts: I wonder if the speakers have kids in High School. The High Schools offers a large number of advanced classes similar to what is being proposed. These are generally above and beyond the core classes kids must take. It is the options of classes like some of these that help set our High Schools apart. These classes are only offered if enough kids sign up for them. One of my kids was disappointed that they were unable to take a similar elective class this past year because not enough kids signed up. It was offered, but then dropped due to not reaching minimum enrollment. )
Brad Boyer had a couple of questions – Do these replace courses?
Response was that these courses are in addition. They increase the opportunity of what kids are offered. Dr. Stokes commented that course like Algebra are state requirements. The district can’t replace them, so none of the core classes are going away.
Brad asked if these courses will always be taught. The courses are only taught in the case when there are enough kids. There is a process for kids to go through in order to select these courses.
Michelle Fullhart commented that 3 of the courses are FHS and one is HSE. She asked how courses were decided. Response – Teachers generally bring the course ideas forward. The schools, department chairs and such determine if the courses should be brought forward to the Board. Dr. Stokes commented that there is licensing and other considerations for courses to be considered.
Michelle commented that it is great that additional courses are being considered that offer college credit options as a part of the class.
Brad asked if the Music class was like private lessons. He indicated that it didn’t seem to make sense to add a course that is like private lessons.
It was stated this is a small class format but is not individualized. Dr. Stokes stated that we have kid in gifted and High Ability. We have kids that are exceptional learning. We want to meet the needs of kids regardless of the focus.
Brad commented that if an Algebra teacher is teaching 30 kids for 85 minutes, and then a Music teacher is teaching 10, it doesn’t sound…..equitable.
It was asked what the rigor of these courses would be. These are Pathway courses, so they would be designed to align with business level requests and expectations as well as what is outlined in the Indiana State Standards for these courses. Project Lead the Way is more of a hands-on engineer, whereas the new Engineering class looks centered on learning all the things you can do with engineering.
Brad asked about staffing. Can there be too many courses leading to the need to hire more staff? Do you dilute what the schools are trying to accomplish when you spread across so many classes?
The response was that typically teachers within the department will take on the courses. More to the point, staffing is based on enrollment – not courses offered. Within some of the new classes, they can determine through teacher schedules if new classes can be done. In some cases, there isn’t enough student t interest for a class, and things will get changed. (My comment: while not stated, not every class is offered every semester. )
Brad asked if there was a chance that we could have to pull a class because we don’t have a staff member? The response was that they could pull a class if there isn’t enough student interest. This didn’t really answer the question. (My comment: One of my daughters signed up to take a Constitutional Law class, but the class was dropped due to a low enrollment number of students. Sadly, classes do get dropped).
5.03 – Redrawing Boundary Lines
Submission form for community is still open. They are up to 170 feedback forms that they are working their way through so they can provide feedback.
Presentation that was given to the school board is still on the HSE web site (and linked to the agenda on Board Docs). A fourth option has been presented for this based on community feedback. There is a work session on December 1st. They are working to pull together the requested information that was requested by the board. They are also working to get images that show boundary lines for the options. They still hope to present 2 options for a decision on December 8th. The following is the timeline:
Attended November 4th working session. He reviewed the three points that were raised as objectives for drawing the boundaries. He commented on using all data sources for making the best estimates so that they don’t need to impact the same people again in the coming years.
Whatever data is used, they would like that to be shared. He asked if the boundaries are getting the best representation from the scenarios that are being ran.
5.04 – HSE School Board Electoral Districts
The concept of redrawing district lines has been something considered for years. It was known that as part of the new Census data that happens every 10 years that the lines could change. This happens at the state level and trickles down.
Normally the Census data would be available a long time ago, but Covid has pushed back everything. What happens is that the State Legislative bodies does their new districts. The State Clerk redraws the state lines. County Clerk will redraw the lines and it will go through an approval process. The State must approve the lines.
There are a few rules. One includes that School Board district lines have to be along precinct lines. There also has to be equal representation so that each district is close in population size. It can be up to 15% difference in population, but no more.
Why are district lines important? We vote every two years for school board members. In one election we vote based on Townships, in the next election we vote based on districts. Every four years during a Presidential election, we vote for three board members, each from a different Township (Delaware, Fall Creek, and Wayne). When we vote for Townships, everyone votes, so there is not a need for population balance. On the election that happens on the non-Presidential election years, four school board members are elected with one coming from each of the four districts within HSE. When voting for district representation, the community only votes for one board member from their own district. To ensure equal representation, districts need to be balanced by population.
(My comment: The redrawing of these district line is to bring the populations of the districts back into closer balance. Note that these district line have no other impact other than for voting for school board members. They do not impact what schools kids go to or anything else regarding our schools. )
As Secretary of the Board, Julie stepped in to help with getting a proposal pulled together for new district lines. In the board meeting, a bunch of numbers were mentioned. I did a poor job in capturing them. You can find them by listening to the video. A few have been posted elsewhere as well.
Current districts were drawn in 2014. The populations are approximately:
- District 1 – 21,500
- District 2 – 28100
- District 3 – 21100 – 29,100 (I’m not sure which number was stated, if either)
- District 4 – 37800
Julie also mentioned that the lines from the current districts are hard to follow. They are a bit “all over the place”. Images of current boundaries were presented (and are on BoardDocs). New line suggestions were also presented:
With the new map, the lines are a bit smoother. District 3 is around more major road lines. W
The new breakout of population would be closer to (again, these numbers might be off a little bit):
- District 1 – 28100
- District 1 – 29700
- District 1 – 30400
- District 1 – 30200
The person that worked with Julie talked about the changing of lines. I’ve not captured all of that within these notes. He did state that he tried to not divide subdivisions. There is only one subdivision that is divided by the new district lines. When looking at population changes, moving Wayne Township out helped balance a lot of the population changes. Only one district crosses township lines (District 1).
The person commenting stated that finding out more details from the presentation changed a little bit of her questions. State precincts are changing, will the school districts change as a result of that? Question on what the new district lines would do with Fishers Elementary and how does this impact schools.
School Board Discussions.
Julie Chambers commented that the districts are only for electing school board members. They do not impact anything happening with schools or where kids go. They are only for voting.
The new map is based on the county precinct maps. They just haven’t been approved by the state. Julie indicated she would be surprised if anything needed to change. If there is a change, it might be related to populations.
Julie commented that by hitting the lines along main roads, it is unlikely that the county or state precincts are going to cross those main road lines and if they do, it should be minor.
This must be voted on and approved by December 31st, so they wanted to get this information posted even if it is not finalized.
Suzanne Thomas asked where the numbers came from because they didn’t match the numbers she had seen. She had hoped the board would work collaboratively on this. Her numbers from working with the precinct as: (I didn’t catch these and none of the numbers were presented in slides).
- District 1 – 28486
- District 1 – xxxxx
- District 1 – 22,811
- District 1 – 302016 +- 1600
The person that generated the lines pulled from software that taps the latest censor data. It could be voting population versus total population. His numbers were total, but many people mistakenly pull voting numbers.
Suzanne created an alternative plan. That gets the districts within roughly 1,000 of each other. I did not capture the numbers she read. She also pulled growth data for the townships. Fall Creek Township 19279 in growth, 4106 Delaware, 3049 growth in Wayne Township. She commented that 4 to 6% in drawing the line. She targeted roughly 29,000 per district with her numbers.
Julie commented that having 7 people try to do the initial draw would have been a lot of work. She presented the data as a starting point for discussion.
Brad asked about the total numbers.
- 116,000 people in the old map
- 118,000 people in the new map
Julie commented that the old map numbers were estimates. Brad clarified that the number of people were total people, not voting people.
Suzanne indicated her numbers were a total of roughly 116,550, so it looks as if both Julie and Suzanne were looking at the same numbers.
More numbers were rattled off (The following are not exact for what was stated):
- Wayne – 34,723
- Fall Creek 78,000
- Delaware 10,000
Suzanne stated that her numbers came from the precinct.
This is an informational item. The board will be able to look at this after numbers are finalized. Brad commented that it would be good to get the numbers clarified.
It was stated that the unincorporated areas are not numbers that are part of the City of Fishers numbers. Unincorporated areas might have two different ballots. This can impact voting and number counts.
Michelle commented that everyone in the district can vote for 4 people on the school board across the two election cycles.
(My comment: Whew! There were a lot of numbers tossed about, but ultimately the focus should be on simply redrawing district lines to work for more balanced voting over the next 10 years or until the next Census changing the lines again. If the boundaries don’t change again until the next Census (10 years), then rather than focusing on a clean balance, they might want to skew districts 1 and 4 a little lower since that is where a majority of the growth is happening. One thing to keep in mind about these district lines versus state district lines — school board positions are non-partisan, so there shouldn’t be any gerrymandering of the lines. It should truly be focused on simply creating lines that are easy to understand.
6.01 – 2021-2022 Agreement between HSE Schools and HSE Association
The new contract passed 7-0.
Suzanne Thomas asked if we were still near the top on average salary. It was stated that this would be unknown until all contracts across the state are approved.
Michelle Fullhart commented that older teaching staff can skew the average, so looking at the other numbers (such as starting) are also important. (My comment: It’s a mean versus median issue. It would be more valuable to know the median salary of school districts than the average (mean) salary. Knowing the standard deviation from the median would also be telling. Teacher salaries are public information. I’ve posted on starting, average, and top salaries in the past.)
The person speaking from the public on this stated that in Article 2, Section 1 there is an item on eLearning Days. She isn’t sure of the rational. She commented about the lack of learning. She isn’t sure why the school includes off-site learning days in their calendar. Teachers who perform the required learning days will be able to have completed an eLearning day regardless of the number of hours they do. She commented that the eLearning days are counted as a full learning day, but teachers aren’t available. If teachers merely post the assignments on a day, have they fulfilled the need? “This used to be called homework.” Teachers used to attend professional development days. Why are eLearning days being use for professional development? If they are learning days, then teachers and students should both be engaged in learning. Is it a coincident that all eLearning days are on Fridays? She recommended that the eLearning days be eliminated because they don’t require actively engaged learning.
7.0 Superintendent Report
Dr. Stokes shared that Friday (November 12th is an eLearning Day. 😊
She indicated there is a new program to recognize staff members. RAVE Reviews to employees nominated by any individual -Recognizing All Valuable Employees – Working with HSE Foundation to do a gift card drawing each month ($100)
Dr. Stokes talked about the Cross Country Teams and how well they recently placed. She also mentioned FHS Marching Tigers placing 3rd – their best finish in school history.
Staff and Student Services is doing a Job Fair (?) on December 9th from 4 to 7 pm at the CCA in Fishers High School. Looking for custodians, bus drivers, subs, kitchen staff, Instructional Assistants, and Remediation teachers. She commented that we still need subs as well as many other positions.
Dr. Stokes also commented on Masks. You can find my coverage on what she said on masks in my post, “Will It Be “Masks Optional” Starting in January at HSE Schools?”
3.04 – Prepaid authority – only certain things can be prepaid. Looking to see if they can pre-pay some things off early. Can’t pre-pay a number of things without board approval. Sounds like there might be cash left at the end of the year. (So we can pre-pay, but we couldn’t pull money back in the spring to avoid having to cut $5 million).
Michelle Fullhart asked if the admin could talk about what is happening this Friday on the eLearning day.
Dr. Kegley – Won’t speak to the contract portion. The eLearning days were put in last year to happen once a quarter. The buildings drive the agenda for those days. Principals are reporting to the admin on what they are doing on the eLearning days. He assured the board that teachers are present on those days and working. They are looking at the February day to have a district wide Professional Development (PD) day that might be a conference like program.
Michelle asked for clarification on the 10% sub number that had been mentioned.
It was stated that there are around 340 general subs in the substitution pool. 46 of those worked today (the day of the Board meeting). Out of the permanent subs, 24 (?) worked. She indicated that was roughly 10% of the overall available subs that were willing to actually work on that day.
Michelle asked how many we needed today. “I think we had most of our unfilled filled positions covered today.” She recalls that out of 15 IA positions, 8 were filled. 63 teacher positions filled today and 11 unfilled (so building positions filled those).
Dr. Stokes commented that Fridays are generally the highest for needing subs, which is another reason for choosing Fridays for eLearning. Michelle commented that parents also had indicated to not put eLearning days in the middle of the week.
BOARD MEMBER COMMITTEE REPORTS
Julie thanked veterans for their service among other comments.