The following are my notes taken from the January 11th, 2023, HSE School Board meeting. These notes were taken while listening to the meeting live, 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.
This meeting signals the transition of four school board positions. A big thank you to the four members leaving the board:
- Brad Boyer
- Julie Chambers
- Michelle Fullhart
- Janet Pritchett
And a big “Welcome” to the new members:
- Tiffany Pascoe
- Dr. Juanita Albright
- Dawn Lang
- Ben Orr
I look forward to seeing what these new members bring to the board and how quickly they get up to speed with the role of a school board member. It is always interesting every two years to see new members as they begin to learn what the role actually entails versus what they assumed prior to being elected.
2. Reorganization of the Board (Oath of Office and Election of Officers)
The meeting started with the swearing in of the new members. The room was very rowdy after each person. Each new member agreed to support the constitution of the United States and of the state of Indiana and will follow the laws.
The new HSE School Board officers are:
- President: Dawn Lang
- Vice-President: Dr. Juanita Albright
- Secretary: Tiffany Pascoe
Approved 5 to 2 –
Issue was raised that there were no officers with past school board experience. This issue was quickly dismissed and the vote taken.
2.xx House Keeping Items.
2.03 Appointment of Corporation Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer, and Set Bonds for Staff
VOTE: 7-0 Approved
2.04 Conflict of Interest
Board members are required to state conflicts of interests they might have that would require them to abstain from voting on some topics. For example, if a board member were a banker, then they would need to disclose the conflict should the board negotiate for a bank interest rate. When I skimmed the documents (on board docs), I did not see anything listed.
VOTE: 7-0 Approved
2.05 Approval of all Current Polices
These are a standard item voted on each January. It is simply an affirmation of people serving in roles each year.
VOTE: 7-0 Approved – So all the new board members approved all the existing policies.
2.06 Approval of 2023 Board Meeting and Work Session Dates
The board approved the following dates:
Generally the 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 7:00pm
- January 11
- January 25
- February 8
- March 8
- March 22 (if needed)
- April 12
- April 26 (if needed)
- May 10
- June 14
- June 28 (if needed)
- July 12
- July 26
- August 9
- August 23(if needed)
- September 13
- September 27
- October 11
- October 25
- November 8
- December 13
- January (2024) 10
- January 24
Generally held from 7:30am to 9:30am. Held only as needed.
- January 17
- February 14
- March 14
- April 18
- May 16
- June 20
- July 18
- August 15
- September 19
- October 3 (due to fall break)
- November 14
- December 5 (due to holiday break)
- January (2024) 1
Any changes to meeting dates and times or any special meetings require (by law) that the district notify the public .Additionally, meetings are held “in the public” which means the public can attend; however, other than times for public comments, the public does not participate.
Vote: Passed 7-0. It was asked in the middle of voting if there would be any discussion such as adding a meeting in February. The answer was “no”.
3.01 Public Comments on Posted Agenda Items
(1) Diane Eaton – Speaking on policies.
Urged J07.11 – Suicide awareness and prevention. Wants board to take a close look at it. Third paragraph, second sentence references the district pointing kids to inhouse counsel. Wants to make sure there is parent participation and approval on this. Wants policy tabled until this is reviewed.
(2) Janet Fields (?) – reorganization of the board
Community is glad you are here. Earned 57.4% of votes. Compared this election to US Presidents and Governors. Don’t want social or political agendas or gaslighting. Said people will be pushing agendas and other things behind the scenes. Said they won’t see parents. Parents are in charge of educating their kids, etc… Schools can come along side of parents, not parents along side of schools. Parents will be seeking things of benefit of them. Some will be for kids, but that can be for parents as well. “They have awoken”
(3) Cindy – JEL
Vote that happened last fall…. Voted yes to continue with Pursuit Institute. District is not ready to start with this program. Cosmetology program specifically is not ready. The option presented is not viable for this two year program. This is a $30,000 program outside of High School. She has questions she will provide the board. Said this impacts hundreds of kids. Something needs to be close to home. Current program could be an hour away with no provided transportation. She provided a lot more detail on who gets chosen and more. Suggested top 5 programs in PI program should be provided at HSE. Application processes should be defined. Cost should also be made clearer. She didn’t know there was a $1000 fee.
She went over time and at 50 seconds over was asked to wrap up. (This sets a baseline for all speakers.)
(4) Jocelyn Vare, Fishers City Council Member – New Board members
Thanked returning members and welcomed new members. Provided some insights she has learned. She indicated that they are now representing *all* the voices in our community. Said she is happy as a member of City council member to partner with them. The schools are a centerpiece for our city.
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
These are standard items for each monthly meeting. While the board doesn’t generally dig into the details, they are worth reviewing on BoardDocs when you have time. They include what the district is spending, who is hired, who resigned, and a lot more.
Voted and approved all items without discussion: 7-0
5.01 HSEngaged Update (Informational)
The HSEngaged program is a year-long program where members of the community get a behind-the scenes look at how HSE schools operate. This is a limited opportunity and requires attendees to commit to meetings across the school year. The district is currently working with the second group of people to go through the program. The district states that participant in this program engage in extended dialogue with the district leadership and develop an understanding of how decisions and programs are implemented.
As mentioned, I attended the first round of this program. I have posted many of my live notes on FishersTOS.com on the Live Notes page, so you can get a feel for what is covered. My notes are pretty limited on this because they meetings often were hands on and involved tours. I recommend this program to anyone interested in becoming more engaged in the schools. Anyone considering running for school board in the future should absolutely apply to attend HSEngaged.
The following are from the slides presented in the board meeting. These are available on BoardDocs.
Ben Orr stated that this is a fantastic program. His wife was in the first one and it opened her eyes. He is happy to hear it would be expanded. His concern was in the selection process. Asked if part of the selection could include random to give all people a chance – possibly an equal chance.
Response: Dr. Stokes has already started talking with them about expanding the selection committee and such. She mentioned more stuff as well. This included possibly doing a different group in the evenings and more.
A board member mentioned that this would be great to help get more volunteers throughout the district. This might be a way for people to learn how they could ‘give back’.
Response: This is the focus of the end of the session. This included getting involved with Foundation. How people can help is covered throughout the sessions as well.
5.02 J Everett Light MOU (Informational)
This is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for working with J. Everett Light Career Center (JEL).
This permits non-membered schools to apply, register, and enroll in JEL programs. HSE would be a non-member school. This provides the opportunity for students to enroll. There are also status-quo items in the MOU such as JEL dealing with a lot of the stuff. JEL follows Washington Township schedule. Terms can be changed, yadda, yadda. Big change is that HSE is a non-member school.
There are slides on Boarddocs for this with more info (I’ll post if I get a chance).
Suzanne – She was an advocate of waiting a year so the hiccups could be removed. This would have allowed us to have programs going so that people don’t have to drive 45 minutes to a class.
Response – they don’t want kids driving 45 minutes either. They know the timeline is not great. The reality is that even if JEL were on the table, then the student might not be able to get into the program anyway. It was mentioned that only 7 of the 18 students that wanted cosmetology were accepted into the program. For seniors that requested, only 4 of 9 got in. There is no guarantee even with JEL that kids will get accepted.
Dr. Stokes commented that there are no guarantees our students will get into programs. This is why they wanted to do Pursuit Institute so that we can better control who gets in instead of being at JEL’s mercy. This was true of welding too, which even though was in our school, JEL controlled who got into the program.
20% of the kids in our school did not get to go to the program they wanted in JEL. The MOU retains the opportunity for our kids to apply.
Suzanne commented about keeping an option for the first year students to go to JEL or get the programs they want.
It was stated that the MOU is trying to help this, including $600,000 is to cover this.
Suzanne asked how many programs are currently not in the Pursuit Institute that JEL offered. The response was that there are only 3 programs. Cosmetology is offered by Pursuit but it is not feasible due to distance. As to the auto service program, they are still looking for other options that are more feasible. Culinary arts (?), Criminal justice, digital design would be JEL next year
Comment on transportation – Something like Tipton is not feasible for district to provide transportation. Carmel, and other cities are close enough that they will look into it.
Suzanne commented that if the district had waited another year that some of the issues could have been worked out.
A new member asked if a brick and mortar was the objective. Dr. Kegley said no. The objective is to keep it in the county. Doing the programs in the schools is cheaper and cuts the overhead. They might end up duplicating some programs.
Sarah confirmed that JEL controlled who was accepted. Going forward, by having our own programs we control who is admitted and have more control over the programs.
Dr. Kegley commented that if we create a program at our schools, we will populate those programs with our own students first. Any unfilled spots would be open then to other schools. (This has been said in past meetings as well.)
There are open and closed programs. Closed means only those at the school can attend.
Dr. Stokes clarified as well – even in our own programs there are classes that get filled and thus kids can’t get into them.
It was asked if it could be clarified if all kids could apply to JEL. Response – They don’t want to open this up to new grades because the JEL program is expensive. If, however, there are enough kids ( say 18) that are interested in a program, then they will work to see what they can do to get a program opened.
Welding year 2 was raised. We have 22 kids doing year 2 next year that would go to JEL next year – Those kids might not be accepted.
Ben Orr asked for some clarification on the current kids. Response / Discussion – second year students would get priority over any new students.
It was agreed that the timelines are rushed, but school counselors can help with kids.
It was clarified that kids can go to FHS or HHS for any programs offered at the two schools. (I have a daughter that goes to the other high school for an engineering course, so this is definitely a part of how our schools work).
MOTION MADE to approve the JEL MOU
Vote: passed 7-0
5.03 Preliminary Determination Hearing for Transportation Center Project (Informational)
This is for projects related to the transportation center (busing). This was a public meeting because this is a project that has a high price tag. Information about this meeting was posted publicly. Schools must hold two public meetings on things costing a lot. This project is in excess of $5.8 million.
This project is to address issues including the following (info from boarddocs and presented in meeting):
- Only 198 bus parking spaces for fleet of well over 300 buses
- Fewer bus drivers keeping busses off-site each year
- 42 overnight bus parking spaces exist at FHS, but that campus is now short on vehicular parking spaces with building at full capacity.
- Asphalt pavement is in poor condition and has been patched many ties. A full depth paving replacement is needed.
- Large paving areas have no internal water collection drains and rely on sheet draining water to adjacent grass areas.
- The practice of taking busses home is not done anymore and they want to get away from this.
- If they expand the parking, then they need to add additional drainage features.
Cost and schedule
- Total cost $5.5 million
- Construction Schedule: April 2022 to October 2022
- There were comments about how costs are skyrocketing and examples given.
- Project won’t exceed $6.8 million. This is partially funded out of existing bonds. Balance out of bonds issued in 2023. Interest not to exceed 5%. The district won’t exceed a year in repaying the bonds even though they say 2027 to cover in case of unexpected issues. No tax rate increase for this. They actually expect a tax rate decrease.
Existing Bus Lot improvements:
- Full depth pavement replacement
- Reconfiguration of lot to increase number of spaces
- Installation of storm water drainage system within lot and conversion of storm water detention area to additional parking
- New lighting, security cameras and installation of conduits for future recharging stations
- New perimeter bus lot fencing
- Create designated pedestrian pathways between driver lot and bus lots to improve safety
Bus lot Expansion / Supporting Parking Lot:
- Bus lot expansion size to bring total full size bus parking up to 320 busses from 198
- New one-way exit drive to south bound Cumberland Road
- New bus driver parking / Administration Building overflow parking lot for +/- 90 automobiles.
- Reconfigure storm water detention area
Ben Orr asked if this is just an informational meeting and RFPs weren’t happening. Response: CFO explained that there are a couple levels of RFPs and a specific process they have to follow. There are different rules for projects based on size ($2 million, $5.8 million, and then a third higher level).
If interested in speaking:
(1) Greg –
$400 to $450k for an electric bus versus a $150k or something for a diesel. Said he had asked about the other costs for maintaining the busses including mechanical issues and such. Said that it was indicated that having more electric busses would reduce the cost; however, the cost of 3 to 1 means that you’d have to save a lot to justify electric busses. Indicated that before adding electrical features that they should do more research.
CFO indicated that the bus that was bought was done with a grant that brought it down to the same cost as a diesel. She indicated there are other grants out there as well including Inflation Reduction Act that will help bring the cost down. She also commented that buying busses comes out of a different budget than operational cost of schools. We are not adding any electric busses at this time, they are just putting in the plumbing (roughing it in) so that if needed in the future it will be substantially lower.
No action on this item. There will be a second meeting on this on January 26th if anyone wants to speak on the topic.
6.01 Policy Second Reading: (Action Item)
The following policies were covered in this meeting:
- K05.00 Public Records;
- This is a new policy to maintain and protect the public records of the Board and to make these records available for inspection and copies in compliance with the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”). See the policy for full details.
- J07.11 Suicide Awareness and Prevention;
- This policy has a legal update
Following presented to rescind:
- E07.00 Data Management; (rescind)
- E07.01 Data/Records Retention; (rescind)
- F05.04 Construction Records and Report; (rescind)
- G02.14 Personnel Records and Files; (rescind)
- D09.01 Financial Reports and Statements; (rescind)
- J08.01 Disclosure of Student Lists (rescind)
Sarah commented on why they were doing some of the changes and rescinding some of the policies. Nothing new.
Ben Orr asked that policies be tabled for the next meeting so that the new board members had time to review. Sarah pointed out that one statement brings a policy in to compliance with federal law.
Motion to table for next meeting. Vote to delay passed 7-0
My comment: These were presented at the previous meeting, so board members should have had time to review them in advance. If they had watched the previous meeting and prepared for this one, then they would have had all the information already. After all – this meetings and the information is all “in the public”.
6.02 Approval of CenterPoint Pipeline Easement (Action Item)
This is Simply selling a sliver of land (easement) to the City to do a pipeline for a new fire station. The $11,350 for this would be dropped into the operations fund.
Ben Orr asked if we were getting fair value for the property. Response: It is reasonable. It is useless property because it is an easement. Can’t build or do anything on the property anyway.
Vote: Approved 7-0.
6.03 Legal Service RFP (Action Item)
This is a request to advertise for proposals (RFPs) for legal services. This is an interesting item to be added to the agenda. Targeting January 27th for RFPs with a decision expected to be made within 4 weeks of that date. Dawn Lang and Sarah Donsbach are the school board contacts for the RFPs.
MY THOUGHTS: It seems odd for a new incoming board to have their first action be to ask for new legal counsel. I would have liked to have seen them lead off with something focused squarely on the kids and academics.
“Doing this as a common business practice.” “Being done publicly.” Commented that this will go out tomorrow [If it is approved].
Ben Orr commented that this is a standard business practice. Current legal team hasn’t had any issues, but it makes sense to evaluate services. Stated they will do things like this from time to time to make sure they are serving the public well.
My Comment: The oddity with this item is that it is the first action the new board took, and they requested it prior to even being sworn in. It is this being their first big action that makes this stand out to many people. They had time to determine the legal team needed reviewed, but didn’t have time to review the previous board meeting where the policies in 6.01 above were covered. And to comment on Ben Orr’s comment – I 100% agree that many of the standard people being hired (contractors) from the district do need to be reviewed and a closer look needs to be done. I know that is something that started changing with the previous board and I expect this new board will accelerate those closer looks that will likely bring new contractors to the district. So in summary – I agree with reviewing contracts, I just question the timing of the focus on legal.
7.01 Board President’s Report
Diane Lang – She expressed her gratitude. Thanked outgoing board members. Said she was grateful for what they’ve done. She commented the board members still on the board. Said it is important for the board to come to solutions for all students. She read a lot of other information as well that I couldn’t document. Hopefully she will post her statement. (If she provides a copy, I’ll add it to the end of this post).
8. Superintendent’s Report – 8.01 Matters of Corporation Interest
Dr. Stokes commented that she believes the new board will work together.
She mentioned that there is no school on Monday: Martin Luther King Day. Mentioned a public event on Sunday January 15th at the HEPL (public library) from 1 to 2pm in Fishers. This is a free program
Dr. Stokes posted for the nursing department that the hospitals need blood donations. Sounds like there is less than a day’s supply. There is a 11005 Allisonville road has a donation center. The phone is 317-916-5150. Dr. Stokes said she doesn’t normally promote this type of program, but the levels are critical, so we need to help and help get the word out.
Mentioned the Restorative Training program that the district is looking to do. This is restorative practice not restorative justice. There are 50 seats for this event from 8:30 to 3:30 on February 13th. Applications are due by January 13th (3pm) if interested. They will cover the key concepts to restorative practices as well as talk about how restorative practices cultivate relationships, repair harm, and restore connections. While I believe this would be a very interesting event to attend, I’m going to not apply and leave the slots for others with younger kids. Hopefully someone attending will write up what they learn. I’d be happy to consider sharing such a post as Live Notes on FishersTOS.com and link to my schools Facebook page.
Dr. Stokes stated that she believes that there might be 50 people already interested. If there are a lot of people interested, then they will look at doing a second session.
Christmas lights can be donated until Friday.
8.02 January 25, 2023, DRAFT Agenda
AP Programming and teacher training will also be brought up next week.
- Suzanne asked if she could make a statement. She congratulated the new board members. She said that the seven board members will be meeting for a retreat.
- Admin mentioned that on January 24th Diane Howe and others will be at Ivy Tech from 10 to 4 to promote open positions – subs, bus drivers, etc.
- Ben Orr asked if they knew who was attending the restorative practice program yet. It was stated there is significant interest, but have not made decisions. It was clarified that the district is presenting this — not an outside group — so there should be no cost for trainers for this. He commented that he has had questions on this and is interested in attending as well. Said he thinks it will be interesting. We want discipline issues handled safely, quickly and in a way that gets our kids back to being education as possible.
Dr. Stokes commented that this is more about a process.