The following are my notes taken from the December 14th, 2022, HSE School Board meeting. These notes were taken while listening to the meeting, so they are not presented in the best manner and might contain errors based on what I heard. These are unedited. For the most accurate information on the meeting, you can view the video of the meeting on the HSESchools.org website.
2. Snapshots of Success – Hamilton Southeastern High School Girls Volleyball and Cheer
Note: I had trouble with my notes at the beginning of the meeting, so you’ll have to check the online video on the HSE site to get the snapshot!
3.01 Public Comments on Posted Agenda Items
One speaker – Janet Fields (?)
Talked about policy for recording on school property. Asked for work sessions to be allowed to be recorded. Also commented about recording in schools and that there is no guarantee of privacy. Indicated that there is an inconsistency in that parents and outsiders need permission to record on school property. Asked about recording at certain times such as during parent teacher conferences or other meetings.
Also talked about construction updates on Lanterns and other schools. Wanted to make sure that district doesn’t have policies to just meet legal requirements, but also meet community interests.
MY COMMENT: Work sessions are now being streamed and recorded as of the previous meeting.
4. Consent Agenda
4.01 Board Minutes
4.02 Certified and Support Staff Reports
4.03 Claims, Payrolls, 403(b) and 457 Salary Reduction Agreements
4.04 Police Officer Security Rate Increase
From Board Docs:
In 2022, the hourly rate of pay for police officers working security for the district was $45.00. In October, raises were awarded to all eligible staff in the district. At that time, this increased the rate to $46.71 per hour.
For our sectional and regional football games, Fishers Chief of Police indicated that officers were not signing up because the hourly rate was too low. To ensure a safe environment for our students, families, and staff, Dr. Stokes and President Chambers authorized a temporary increase to $55.00 per hour for security coverage. Additional research shows that area districts are paying between $50.00 – $60.00 per hour for police officer security.
It is the recommendation of Dr. Stokes to increase the hourly rate of pay for police security officers to $55 per hour. The new rate will take effect on 12/15/22.
4.05 Pre-Payment Authorization
- Item 4.03 voted separately. 4.03 VOTE: 6-1 passed. Suzanne Thomas voted No
- All other items. VOTE: 6-1 passed. Brad Boyer voted No.
- Sarah Riordan – New Assistant Principal at FHS. (Board Docs says this is temporary, but it didn’t sound temporary in the meeting).
- Hoosier Road has new Assistant Principal as well. – Didn’t see this listed in BoardDocs, but I might have overlooked it.
4.06 WTHR vs. HSE Settlement Agreement
This item was not discussed in the meeting, but was worthy of a mention here in my notes. HSE settled with WTHR-TV on the 2018 case: From the agreement, which is available on Board Docs:
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises contained herein, the covenants set forth below, and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, Plaintiff agrees as follows:
1.1 Hamilton Southeastern School District shall issue a check in the amount of Thirty Five Thousand Dollars and Zero Cents ($35,000.00) made payable to Broyles Kight and Ricafort, P.C (referred to as the “Settlement Funds”).
1.2 Plaintiff expressly understands that payment and/or acceptance of the Settlement Funds is not an admission of liability on the part of the Hamilton Southeastern School District and is in full accord and satisfaction of any and all disputed claims against the Hamilton Southeastern School District, and/or any person, employee, or entity associated with the Hamilton Southeastern School District, arising from the APRA Request and the claims in the Lawsuit
5.01 Return to Instruction Review (Informational)
The district is required to do this review every six months due to receiving Covid relief funds.
Not much said here. They will be getting rid of the Covid dashboard.
5.02 Lantern Road Elementary Project Update (Informational)
On November 17th there was a bid for the skylight. Bid came in underbudget. Rest of project will bid later. The skylight takes more time so they wanted to get it bid earlier.
Overall, planning to open on time in 2024. No new changes. Floor plan is similar to what was before. There are a few small tweaks, but there are always a few small tweaks. They make sure things are approved before moving forward. There is more information on BoardDocs.
Q&A – Per feedback from NBE, there were security doors added that would allow areas to be compartmentalized if needed. There is more information on Board Docs.
5.03 Food Service Financial Update (Informational)
Slides were presented on financials around food services since it has been discussed a lot recently. The information was stated to be all good.
The CFO, Katy Dowling, and Karen Ogden presented the slides for food services and talked fast. Here are the slides:
Food services is very much a business – they are a business of serving kids.
Question about students staffing some of the food services areas. Michelle mentioned the coffee area specifically in the CCA. Students are employed as lifeguards, can they be employeed to open the coffee area in the morning? The Student advisory group (for the superintendent) was asking if the Food Services people could come to one of their meetings to talk about what students might be able to do.
There has also been a question of whether they could have things hired out (like the coffee shop). It was stated that there are highly heavy regulations that have to be followed, plus there are other rules that have to be followed as a result of privacy and such, so it isn’t as easy as just bringing in a group. The regulations are the biggest issue.
It was asked if spirt wear sale and such were under the same oversight and rules. The answer was no because they don’t have the privacy and such on free/reduced lunch items and such.
There are four lunch times at the high schools, not 5.
Boyer asked if there were things that were suspended that we are considering bringing back? The cafeterias are into disposable wear = silverware and trays. They did this due to Covid and staffing. They are looking to go back to reusables because it is less expensive. There are other things they are wanting to bring back that will be profitable.
Boyer asked if there were things that weren’t being brought back because they didn’t make financial sense. It sounds like that’s not the case.
There was an example of things they are looking at. If a meal is knowingly losing money, they will look at paper goods and other things to see if they can reduce the costs.
5.04 Policy First Reading (Informational):
Policies being reviewed:
- K05.00 Public Records (NEW);
- New policy
- The following policies will be absorbed into this policy and then rescinded.
- E07.01 Data/Records Retention;
- F05.04 Construction Records and Report;
- G02.14 Personnel Records and Files;
- D09.01 Financial Reports and Statements;
- J08.01 Disclosure of Student Lists
- Janet commented that the policy committee didn’t include a fee for policy requests. The cost was not enough to bother. Time employees spend compiling and paper copies are the two things other organizations charge for. It’s not legal to charge for legal council on providing documents. They amount of documentation that the district has is not a lot, so it isn’t enough to justify costs.
- Suzanne asked if there were any key items beyond the fee that should be noted in the policies being rescinded.
- Having a policy that says the district is required to keep documents is pointless because there is a higher level requirement (law) that forces the school to retain records.
- There are other things such as acknowledging a request has to be done within 7 days by law, so it isn’t necessary (but it sounds like it might be there).
- J07.11 Suicide Awareness and Prevention;
- Legal update
- Suzanne made a request to add some wording. She asked for “as need or requested” in regard to referrals. It was asked why this was needed. Summary – this is first read, so policy committee can consider the suggestion.
- E07.00 Data Management;
- Being absorbed into K05.00
And yes, the district still gets facsimiles (Faxes).
6.01 Policy Second Reading (Action item):
- E06.04 Video Surveillance;
- G02.03 Communication with Staff;
- F09.00 Hazardous Materials;
The following policies are rescinded – There is no legal requirement to have these:
- F01.00 Facilities Development Goals/Priority Objectives;
- F02.00 Facilities Planning;
- F02.01 Enrollment Projections;
- F03.00 Temporary School Facilities;
- F05.02.01 Contractor’s Fair Employment Clause/Common Wage;
- F08.00 Public Dedication of New or Renovated Facilities;
- F12.00 Chemical Management (This policy is being absorbed into another).
Janet commented stated that absorbing or rescinding these isn’t an indication these aren’t needed or happening. Some are required by law, so no need to have them.
Julie – Public work sessions are school board meetings. They can be recorded by the public. She commented that they are being livestreamed. There is no need to clarify the wording between the two because they are ‘board meetings’ either way so they can be recorded.
Live stream started after last board meeting. There has been one work session sense then so far.
Fullhart clarified regarding the superintendent being the ultimate authority for who can record. The question was if the teacher says yes, you can record, then you are okay. If the teacher says no, then can the superintendent override the teacher. Dr. Stokes clarified – Nobody is going to call her on every occurrence of recording. It means the building will have rules on what is acceptable. The processes and procedures are in place at the building level that have been vetted up the channels. Teachers know what is allowable.
Boyer. – Hazardous materials doesn’t have “or designee” and the video has “superintendent or designee”. Why is it not consistent. They will make it consistent and include “superintendent or designee”.
Suzanne asked that the policies include a link to the procedures — specifically the video recording policy. It was stated that each building or grade level might have different procedures so it could become quite a bit. She would like it to be clear what the process would be if a parent wants to record.
Dr. Stokes commented that there are a number of situations that could come up in a classroom that could cause different procedures to need to be in place. Suzanne commented that a parent might want to record a class presentation their student is doing. Dr. Kegley commented that they would have to be careful of recording other kids and what I done with those recordings after the fact.
In short Suzanne asked that they provide clarification on procedures where they can.
VOTE: Passed 7-0
Boyer clarified – most of the comments in the discussion were regarding procedures, not the policies.
6.02 Emergency Hiring Authorization (Action item)
There is not another board meeting for nearly a month. This allows staff to be hired without waiting a month to get them on board.
Boyer asked if this was already in place. It was stated that what was in place is likely expired. It was clarified that they admin likes to always ask for the approval from board-meeting to board meeting just to be clear. With the change of semesters, there is more likely to be hiring over the next few weeks.
VOTE: Passed 7-0
6.03 New Course Proposal (Action item)
New high school courses proposed that would start in the 2024-2025 school year. Courses include:
- Biographies (1024)
- Ethnic Literature (1032)
- Poetry (1044)
- American Sign Language III (2162)
- AP African American Studies (TBD)
- Physical Education: Officiating 101 (3560)
- Electronic Music (4202)
- Information Technology: Computing for Business (4578)
- Principles of Computing (7183)
- Education Professions Capstone (7267)
- Child and Adolescent Development (7157)
There is also a half dozen course title changes
These courses and changes have been reviewed previously. The PI African Studies course was approved as a pilot.
Suzanne asked if the board gets a report on whether students have actually taken some of the new classes that were approved. Did they have attendance or were they not attended because nobody signed up for them.
It was stated that there is a three semester lead way to classes that are approved. As such, classes the newer board members approved a year ago would still be coming.
Fullhart indicated that new board members should not focus on removing classes just because the first time they didn’t get enough students. They should be given time.
Fullhart asked if there are courses the state asks to have removed? It was indicated that he State tends to provide a memorandum when courses are to be phased out.
VOTE: Passed 7-0
6.04 Snow Removal Addendum (Action item)
Due to increased costs for snow removal equipment, the City of Fishers is asking HSE to slit the cost of the increase. There is more information on Board Docs for this.
The board approved an increase to cover snow removal in 2021, which was the first increase in 10 years. The increase in cost for rental equipment, however, was unexpected and at around $43,000 of which they would like the board to split the cost.
Suzanne asked if it was bid out to see if we could get the services cheaper. It was stated that they did bid it out in 2021 and working with the City was substantially cheaper than any of the bids.
Boyer asked what happens if there is no snow? The response was that the fees would be paid to make sure the equipment is available if needed. All that is changing is the rate being paid because the cost of rental has gone up. The procedures and everything else remains the same. Just a rate change.
Backhoe and other equipment is what this is going for.
VOTE: Passed 6-1 = Boyer voted no.
6.05 Request Permission to Approve the 10-Year Plan (Action item)
Asked for permission to seek bids, do RFPs, and look for coop, etc. This is an overall approval of items for next year instead of waiting and presenting each item. It was stated that some of the equipment that they are looking to get next year have lead times of as much as 50 weeks.
Suzanne clarified that this is to get RFPs and quotes – not to purchase.
Boilers, chillers, and other equipment are purchased via coops and at a state designated rate. $640,000 is targeting for the coops.
VOTE: passed 7-0
6.06 Request Permission to approve the E-rate Network Upgrade Bid Recommendation (Action item)
Bids were received for new computer hardware. The board approved the advertising of bids in November, with bids due by the December 14th meeting.
The bid was under what was budgeted.
VOTE: Passed 7-0
6.07 Teacher Appreciation Grant (TAG) Authorization (Action item)
From Board Docs:
The State of Indiana allocates monies in the biennium for the Teacher Appreciation Grant (TAG). This year, HSE received $790,130.14 in our TAG distribution. This is very similar to the amount the district received in 2021. The amount is calculated on a base rate multiplied by the number of students in the district.
Indiana Code 20-28-8-28 provides the definition of classroom teacher and the TAG guidelines require that only classroom teachers, defined as those instructing students 50% or more of the time, are eligible to receive the TAG stipend. The law also requires that there be a 25% differential in compensation between effective and highly effective
The district received the teacher appreciation grant money from the state on November 28, 2022. The district has 20 business days to distribute the funds to certified staff who qualify. We are asking for board approval to distribute these funds to teachers who qualify in a special payroll on December 19, 2022
As with prior years, we are also requesting that non-administrative certified staff who are covered by the collective bargaining agreement, but do not meet the technical definition of Indiana Code 20-28-8-28, receive the same stipend amount provided by TAG, but from our Education Funds. The cost of this is roughly $100,000 in pay and benefits (i.e. taxes, INPRS, etc.). We budget these monies annually. Positions would include, but are not limited to, Speech Language Pathologists; School Counselors; Teacher Librarians; School Social Workers; etc. No administrators will receive additional monies.
- Highly Effective – $737.50
- Highly Effective part-time – $368.75
- Effective – $590.00
- Effective part-time – $295.00
Law limits who gets the bonuses. This overall proposal was to allocate the statutory payments as mentioned, but also to approve additional funds to pay other staff members (but not administrators) that are not included.
VOTE: Passed: 7-0
7. Board President – Board President’s Report
Michelle Fullart was allowed to talk for a few moments for her last board meeting. Dr. Bourff was in the audience. She read a statement that I’ll try to get a copy of and post or link here. Michelle has been a board meeting for 8 years. She commented on some of the successes over the eight years. This included: Two new elementary schools, renovation of several other schools and the admin center. Community based partnerships – Conner Prairie, Hub & Spoke, Agri-Park. Blue Ribbon awards. Increased transparency with streamed meetings. Lots of championships. Lots said – more than I could even begin to capture, so I’ll try to get a copy. She has served next to 15 other board members. (Update: Michelle’s full statement is at the end of this report.)
Julie Chambers commented that our schools are great and will continue to be. (She said a lot more, so this is the shortened notes. 😊
8. Superintendent’s Report – Matters of Corporation Interest
Dr. Stokes had Dr. Kegley and another present on the Pursuit Institute. This is the Hamilton County career center. Jobs to hire instructors are posted. Interviews will happen in the spring. Equipment has been ordered. Student data has been analyzed for Sophomores and Juniors to see the options available to get those students what will be needed. MOUs being reviewed. Guidance counselors have been met with so they know what is coming and can advise students. They met with Ivy Tech to maintain existing dual credits that kids have learned. The MOU will be with JEL to support students that will be taking a second year of courses they are already taking.
They listed the courses in Pursuit that will be offered within HSE. They will learn in the spring what courses are offered at other schools. If there were courses that were at JEL that is not offered at this time, then they are looking at options that can be provided.
Dr. Stokes mentioned First Semester ends Friday. Classes will start back up Thursday, January 5th.
Diversity Hiring Fair – District is in collaboration with 5 other districts doing diversity recruitment. Northside schools get together quarterly about topics. They talked about having a diversity hiring fair. They landed on a date and are all working together. Carmel will host this first fair due to their location. The event will be continued going forward.
Dr. Stokes stated that all five superintendents understand the importance of hiring a diverse work force.
Restorative Practice for Parents is an opportunity for parents to get a better understanding of what this term means. They don’t want people to wonder or guess what this means. I posted a link to the session previously. There are 50 spots for this. The deadline to apply is January 13th. There were 56 people who signed up on the first day by noon, so they will have to vet who gets into the sessions when they start.
Holiday light recycling continues at all buildings. They are closing in on about 10,000 pounds of recycled lights.
Dr. Stokes and Dr. Bourff talked about the outgoing board members. She provided each one a gift.
Dr. Bourff stated a “Thank you” to the outgoing board members and much more. He also commented that the board members persevered at one of the most difficult times for school boards around the country. He commented about Suzanne asking for the board to make decisions that work for the future, which is hard when there are 50/50 splits on how things should be.
The three remaining board members also talked. Each said nice words to the outgoing board members.
8.02 January 11, 2023, DRAFT Agenda
No spotlight next meeting because they will be transitioning the board to the new members.
UPDATE: Michelle Fullhart’s Remarks
The following are the remarks made by Michelle Fullhart. This was her last official meeting as a school board member after serving for eight years.
As this is my last full meeting as a member of the Hamilton Southeastern Board of School Trustees, I’d like to take a moment to thank those in our community who have supported this great school district, the staff who work tirelessly to make HSE the wonderful district that it is, the amazing, inspiring students who give me hope for our future, and the parents who have entrusted their children to us.
I have had the privilege of being a board member for the past 8 years for a wonderful school district and community I have been a part of for almost 32 years. The district was great before I was elected and in the past 8 years, I believe we are even better.
Throughout those years there have been some challenges but also many notable accomplishments. Here are some of the things our district has achieved:
- The building of two beautiful new elementary schools – Southeastern and Deer Creek – and the renovation of New Britton (and Cumberland Road) Elementary, Fishers Junior High, Fall Creek Intermediate, and the renovation and expansion of the Administration Center. We’ve also approved renovations to both Lantern Road and Fishers Elementary Schools.
- The growth of our community-based partnerships for students. Some examples are the Nature First program at Ritchey Woods for first graders, Farm 2 Table at Fishers AgriPark for our 2nd graders, Conner Prairie curricular experiences for our 4th graders, and the Fishers Maker Playground at Hub & Spoke for our 5th graders
- We greatly increased transparency with the public by livestreaming all board meetings and having archived video available on the district website.
- We’ve had 2 schools win the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award – Geist and Thorpe Creek Elementary
- We’ve had too many athletic state championships to count – 2 of which we honored just tonight – HSE HS Cheer and Girls Volleyball
- We’ve had scores of students being named National Merit Scholarship Finalists
- We’ve won numerous state and national championships for teams and individuals in competitions such as We the People, Mock Trial, Destination Imagination, Robotics, DECA, speech and many other academic competitions
- We are expanding technical and vocational training opportunities for our students by entering into a partnership with the Pursuit Institute
- Our counseling staff at our schools earned Gold Star designation for comprehensive school counseling and guidance programs from the state
- The expansion of our mental health supports to better serve our students
- Numerous staff being honored by their peers outside of our district, recent ones include Dr. Crystal Thorpe as the Middle School Principal of the Year and Brooke Lawson awarded the Indiana Exemplary School Administrator of the Year by the Indiana School Counselor Association.
- We have also maintained being rated an A school district by the Indiana Department of Education for longer than my term on the board
- We expanded our non-discrimination policy to protect our LGBTQ students and staff
- And during the past 8 years I had the honor of seeing over 12,000 students graduate from our amazing high schools. Attending graduation and watching the joy in the faces of those students, including 5 of my own, each year was my favorite part of being a board member, and I hope it brings the same joy to the new board members.
I have also had the privilege of working with two accomplished, smart and dedicated superintendents, Dr. Allen Bourff and Dr. Yvonne Stokes, who have worked tirelessly in their roles to make our district better. A district as large and complex as ours must have a leader who is devoted to their job, and Dr. Bourff was and Dr. Stokes certainly is that kind of leader. I wish her luck in the future and know she will continue to do an excellent job serving HSE.
During my two terms I served alongside 15 different board members. It was a pleasure getting to know all of them, learning from them, and working together for our students, staff, and community. That includes all of you who are sitting here today.
I wish the best for the 3 board members who are continuing to serve, as well as those who are newly-elected. They are tasked with making decisions to serve the needs of over 21,000 students and 2500 staff members, maintaining and hopefully improving the high academic standards our community has come to expect, while ensuring their safety and security and that they graduate ready for their next step in life with the skills needed to be successful.
While I will no longer be serving as a board member, I will still be part of this community and will still remain a champion for our district, the staff and the students they serve.
And finally, thank you to the community who gave me the opportunity to serve this district. It has been an honor and a pleasure.