The following are my notes taken while watching the September 15th, 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. For the most accurate information on the meeting, you can view the video of the meeting on the HSESchools.org website.
2. Snapshot of Success: Brooke Lawson, Mental Health and School Counseling Coordinator
Since October of 2016, Brooke Lawson has worked as Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ Mental Health and School Counseling Coordinator. Over that time, she has continued her passion and commitment to the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students and school staff in the HSE Schools community. Her work was recently recognized by the Indiana School Counselor Association who awarded her with the 2023 Indiana Exemplary School Administrator of the Year. Lawson has led the way to new programing, partnerships and mental health supports for our students and staff.
Less than 60 kids were receiving mental health help when she started. That number has increased to nearly 3,000 getting services from licensed professionals. The video covers a lot about Brooke and a little bit about the mental health programs.
Video shown in board meeting:
Dr. Stokes commented that the video doesn’t really talk about all the things done by Brooke within the district. One board member commented that it was great that we have such an increase in the number of kids being helped. Three therapists serving six schools when she started. With the referendum, the district put out an RFP to work with an agency. Fullhart commented that by protecting student mental health, it also helps with school safety.
No other schools were doing mental health work like HSE was doing in 2016. Almost every school in Hamilton County now have mental health coordinators. Smaller districts have grant funded positions.
Brooke commented that we have counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals.
4. Consent Agenda
These are generally standard things, but this time there are two unique items. The documents online are often interesting to skim through. You can see how money is being spent, who quit, who retired, and other items. The consent agenda consists of:
- 4.01 Board Minutes (Passed 6-0, Brad Boyer not at meeting)
- 4.02 Certified and Support Staff Reports (Passed 6-0)
- 4.03 Claims, Payrolls, 403(b) and 457 Salary Reduction Agreements (Passed 5-1, Suzanne was the no )
Suzanne stated she doesn’t support some of the companies and payments on the report, so voting no.
MY COMMENT: It is appreciated and nice that Suzanne stated why she voted no. There are times when board members don’t share why they vote against an item.
- 4.04 Van Disposal (Passed 6-0)
Michelle asked that the van donated if there is any value. It was stated the fan would be scraped and that would be put into the operations fund. The van is dangerous and unusable so it had no real value.
- 4.05 Non-Certified Pay Scale Adjustment (Passed 6-0)
Suzanne commented. She stated she is voting yes. She appreciates the revision but hopes for more creativity from the administration to increase pay more for Instructional Assistants (IAs) to be more competitive in the wage and our economy. Another board member commented that they are not sure how the admin can be much more creative when there is a limited budget. (There was a comment about bake sales….)
5.01 Pursuit Institute (formerly HCCCA) – Carrie Lively
Career Center initiative. The goal of the pursuit institute is to equalize career and technical education opportunity for students across the county and to take away the stigma that career and technical education is not only for students who aren’t going to college or are going directly into the work force after high school. They had focus groups of teachers, counselors, teachers, students, community members, and other to land on the name and they are starting to promote the program.
Seven new programs added in the Career and Tech Education program this last year. Register apprenticeship program for elementary education teachers. There is a student piloting this program now. There were details of this apprenticeship mentioned along with how it works with Ball State. Program sound every interesting. There are three programs in medical, a new program in cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, the education program, and more.
Is the education program only with Ball State or can it be transferred? It was stated that the course that the student doing the special education program is taking 100 and 200 level Ball State courses, so those would be transferrable. Was asked if the classes were at a specific school in HSE? The response was that the classes are primarily online with Ball State professors. Some professors live in Hamilton County so if enough students wanted to do the program, they could teach it locally. These classes and the program would be a student’s Junior and Senior years. This program will be rolled out to other schools across the state as well.
5.02 Public Hearing on Tentative Agreement Between HSE and HSEA
This section of the board meeting included a public hearing, which means it was open to the public to speak without signing up in advance. A public hearing is required in regard to the contract between the district and the association (which is the union). They commented that the process was different this round and that the collaborative approach this time was great. They commented that it was not adversarial, but rather focused.
Highlights (redlined contract is on Board Docs):
- Contract pay starts July 1 instead of waiting until January 1st. It makes things easier teachers to know their pay. (My comment: It makes more sense to me that the contract would match the school year rather than a calendar year since that’s the framework that teachers work within.
- Pay scales adjusted to shift a bottom level to the top. Increases based pay.
- Language changed to allow teachers and others to be compensated fairly for subbing.
- Streamlining some items in the contract.
- There was 3 days of training prior to the changes.
- Some things the district does were added to the contract so that it was clear. Things like adding the hourly rate for home bound teaching and other things.
- Extra-curricular activity committee was made official.
- Insurance committee added even though it already existed.
- Push for consistency in insurance rates
- Some language to limits future liabilities – nothing that impacts current staff.
PUBLIC HEARING: No comments from public
Board Q&A –
Article 2, section 1B – Asked for clarification. Teachers who perform the required duties for an eLearning day, etc…. It was stated that this is not new language. Some of the eLearning days are eLearning days, so teachers are working. It was stated that the item was more about Covid. It sounded that this basically indicates that the teachers are working the entire eLearning days.
When will retroactive pay be paid? That will be said/answered at the September 29th Board meeting.
How will class coverage work at the elementary level with class prep? There were issues with resource teachers, librarians, school counselors, and others. These are people who are not traditional students, but they are a bonus to the teachers. These teachers were not really getting any compensation for covering. They went into details on prep and other things regarding this.
Fullhart commented about the consent agenda and the multipliers that are listed on some of the certified staff items. The multipliers means that the value of 390 is multiplied by 3 to get the rate. Similarly, if there is a divided by 2 (such as when two teachers are covering), then the rate is divided by 2. There could be a case where it is multiplied by 3 and then divided by 2. It was stated that this seems more complicated than it should be. This is something they might look at in the future to make it clearer. On the reports, ECA stands for Extra Curricular Activity. These are outside of the work hours and over and above what they are expected to do.
5.03 Lantern Road Elementary Update
Architect gave an update of design and construction person was there to go over the process. There was a budget of $14 million, but they are not able to do everything they expected at that price, so they are looking to make changes.
Board Docs has a slide set. They are keeping same layout for classrooms. They were looking at worked at NBE to apply to LRE. Eliminating the media center and pushing to the back ended up being too small. Small group area also ended up being too small, so they made some adjustments. Media center (“Discovery Center”) will still be center of school. Classrooms will be refurbished. New flooring, new wall painting covering. New paint on ceilings. Office area reconfigured completely. Trying to make it more effective. Cafeteria and gym minor things. Restrooms by gym made a little larger. Etc.
Bob / Construction – They got involved in early July where they published a budget which was a little over $15 million. They put together over 60 scopes of work with 50 components. Needs, wants, wishes. Went through iterations of these. These are now in tier 1 and 2 items. Tier 1 is roughly $12.5 million, and Tier 2 is roughly 2.3-2.4 million. Using internal costs and then vetted with market.
Original quote was $14 million. It was asked if the quote was based was on New Britton Elementary (NBE) with inflation considered. Delks commented that this was based on a year ago.
Second part was does the image on board docs show what is in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 presented? Response was that the slide shows Tier 1. Tier 2 contains things like dish washer for food services, things on the exterior like windows, doors, and replacing the skylight. There is also some exterior security lighting that was a small item. This is about $1.5. The restrooms and refurbishing would have also been tier 2. Cooling power mechanical – replacing cooling unit is also in Tier 2.
What is the life of windows and doors. What is the detriment of not doing them now? Are these energy efficient? Do these need to be replaced?
Dr. Stokes chimed in to say that regarding Wants and Needs. That Needs are “gotta haves”, the wants are “we really do need it, but not as much as the need column”.
Delks indicated that the doors and such should be replaced, but they had to prioritize. He indicated there were other cuts as well including:
- All new furniture, which would be a million dollars
- A new playground which would be $600,000
- Reclamation of parking and such (including bus areas) would be around $600,000
Total to do this stuff would be around $5 million according to Delks.
It was not super clear as to what was in Tier 2 listed above and what was not. It sounds like the three items here are not in the tiers mentioned before.
It was summarized that with the $14 million dollar budget it won’t have the playground, furniture, parking, and several other things. They are stating that the changes are because of costs going up.
A board member asked for what the projected total would be to do everything. The response was that that is expected to be around $18 million – which would be an increase of $4 million over the original budget.
The board member asked for clarification beyond simply “inflation” for why costs went up nearly $5 million. They understand that a million, million and a half is one thing, but $5 million is a lot. They CFO indicated that because of the process they use of getting a budget before the design is done, they can run into these kinds of issues. They then referenced the overages of Deer Creek as an example.
There was a question regarding the playground again and that it should be included. It was reiterated that the projected cost was $600,000 for the playground. (My Comment: Maybe they should talk to the PTOS, who have done playgrounds cheaper than that. Granted, playgrounds are not cheap, but that seems like a factor of at least 3 to 4 times more than what the RSI PTO has done.)
Delks commented that we should hire an architect up front to do the design and then put the budgets together.
The CFO said that they are planning to change the processes. She stated there is a way to extend the spending, but they would have to go through the process. There was an increase of about 17% increase in property value so there is room to increase the bonds. The additional work for this LRE could be done without impacting other projects. She indicated the district has enough to pull $3 million more per year, which since this is a multi-year project could be covered.
Fullhart asked the age of the building. It is 27 years. For this school some things like the kitchen updates are updates, so it isn’t like they school won’t have things, they just won’t have new ones. She asked about the gym restroom and securing it on the weekends so that people can’t get through to the rest of the school. It was stated that this has been discussed.
(My comment: The contractors bid to do the work and the board approves one of the bids. It seems odd that the amount can then be increased by millions. That changes the entire dynamics of the winning bid. Why isn’t the construction company that won the bid responsible for the increased costs instead of the district? I’ve sent a similar question to a board member. I clearly am missing something if the board has already accepted a contractor bid and the price is now changing.)
5.04 Fishers Elementary Update
They are putting out an RFP for the update of the current location.
5.05 Policy First Reading
There were a lot of policies:
- E02.00 Environmental and Safety Program
- E02.02 Accident Reports
- E02.03 and K03.02 Emergency Management
- E03.00 Building/Grounds/Property Management
- E03.01 Conservation
- E04.00 Transportation Services
- E04.02 Use of Vehicles on School Business
- E01.00 Support Services Objectives
- E02.01 Buildings and Grounds Safety
- E06.00 Office Services
A lot of the changes are consolidating things and “slight” revisions. The hope is that the new policies are more concise and easier to read. There really were no questions on this.
6.01 Action Item – Policy Second Reading
Policies from August. It was stated that there were no changes since the August meeting. There was one slight modification from using the word “will” to “may” in one spot on a policy related to the board:
- B02.11 – School Corporation Advocacy
- B04.00 – Organization of School Board
- B04.01 – Board Officers
- B04.02 – Board/Superintendent Relationship
- B04.03 – Board Committees
- B05.00 – Board Meetings
- B05.03 – Agenda
- B05.05 – Broadcasting of Board Meetings
- B05.05.01 – Minutes of Board Meetings
- B06.00 and B06.05 – Board of School Trustees Consideration of Expulsion Appeals
- B07.00 – Board Policies
- B07.01 – Board Policy Revision/Review
- B07.02 – Suspension/Reinstatement of Policy
- B09.00 – School Board Legislative Program
It was clarified that videos of school board meetings will be kept *at least* four years
These policies were approved with a vote of 6-0.
7. Board President
Julie Chambers, Board President mentioned two things.
Library board appointment representative stepped aside due to family matters. They received 52 applications for the position. She will be reading them and narrowing it down to 3 to 5 candidates. She will then likely reach out to those candidates to ask more questions. She also indicated that she had been contacted by community members asking that the appointment of the position be done as openly as possible since another governing body seemed to have not been so open with their appointees. She also shared that the appointment is by the HSE Board president and not by a vote of the board. She does not expect to share that information publicly on candidates since there was an assumption of privacy among some of those that applied, but she will share with the other board members. She indicted this will come onto an agenda as an action item. She said she is not going to commit to a date because she wants to take the time to read each all the information that was supplied.
She stated there is a working session coming on the budget on the 20th.
8. Superintendent’s Report – Matters of Corporation Interest
Thanked those that have stepped up and hired on to HSE. Stated they still need a lot of support help.
They are hiring in a lot of areas. She repeated Instructional Assistance a couple of times.
eLearning Day on September 30th. Homework and lessons will be on Canvas. Kids will not come into school.
Indicated the bargaining session was a good session and collaborative. It was confirmed that it was a one year contract.
Pursuit Institute is on the next agenda for a vote.