2023 – January 25th HSE School Board Meeting Live Notes

**** DRAFT — These are exceedingly rough. Not proofed. Not verified. ****

The following are my notes taken from the January 25th, 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.

2. Snapshots of Success – Brenna French – HSE High School Junior

From Boarddocs:

Brenna French, a junior at Hamilton Southeastern High School, is helping others in the community understand Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Brenna was exposed to alcohol in utero and has been diagnosed with FASD, but she hasn’t let that stand in her way. While she may face struggles in some ways, she excels in others – such as helping make the journey easier for others like her. Back in 2022, she spoke to the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disabilities and was also spotlighted at the National Conference on Alcohol and Other Substance Use in Women and Girls hosted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Health and the U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services.

In the past she has also spoken to both Senator Braun and Senator Young about the need for the FASD Respect to be passed, so there will be funding to support those living with a FASD. She shared her story with the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/stories.html#Brenna ) and it has been shared around the world to help spread awareness about FASD and is even part of the Indiana Dept of Health’s FASD webpage (https://www.in.gov/health/gnbs/birth-defect-and-nbs-condition-info/Developmental-Disorders/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder/).

A video of Brenna was presented as part of the snapshot. I’ve included it below. September 9th is FASD awareness day. Albright commended her for speaking up. Dr. Stokes commented that it is great for her to use her student voice. Other board members also provided kudos and comments.

3. Consent Agenda

  • 3.01 Board Minutes
  • 3.02 Certified and Support Staff Reports

In this meeting’s consent agenda, I want to call out that Harry Delks, Director of Facilities, is listed as “Return from Leave” and “Retirement”. When Harry ran for School Board, it was assumed his time with HSE was limited. It looks like this consent agenda makes it more official in that it appears he is retiring. Harry has been working in Facilities for as long as I can remember, so I wish him the best of luck in whatever his next set of adventures is going to be.

Passed 7:0

4. Public Comments

(1) Chad
He commented that the district had commented that “We don’t provide mental health support without parent consent.” He said this is false. He mentioned a presentation done previously to a junior high. He stated that in that meeting staff were told not to disclose student gender to parents. He said he has the form for these gender transition plans which includes statement that parents don’t have to respond. He said that he has tried to get answers from Dr. Stokes and he isn’t getting responses since July of 2021. Landslide election to stop this secretive behaviors. HE asked the board create a special committee to look into this “frankly evil plan to keep secrets from parents on their own children.”

5.01 Notre Dame Advance Placement Teacher Investment Program (Informational)

Michelle Brittain-Watts, Executive Director of Secondary Education presented on the Advanced Placement Teacher Investment Program (AP-TIP).

  • Advanced Placement Teacher Investment Program (AP-TIP)
    • AP-TIP works with schools across the state to support both teachers and students in AP Math, Science, and English courses.
    • AP-TIP helps to improve teaching and learning in Advanced Placement (AP) classrooms.
    • Three (3) year participation (2023/24; 2024/25 & 2025/26).
    • Project is funded by a public-private partnership between Indiana Department of Education and a private foundation.
  • AP-TIP Goals
    • To increase enrollment of students in math, science, and English Advanced Placement courses in the schools participating in the project, and
    • To increase the number of qualifying scores (3, 4, or 5) on AP Math, Science, and English exams in the schools participating in the project

Ultimate goal of this project is to increase qualifying scores in AP exams and to increase the number of people taking them. Teachers will receive additional professional development through this program as well where they will get cohort training on a campus (such as IUPUI).

Q&A –

How are teachers chosen? Schools have to apply to the program. Then schools are selected. They then have meetings with teachers at the schools involved in the areas of AP courses. They are then selected.

There was another question, but they didn’t use their microphone. The question I believe was on scores and number of people taking courses. They will have to get the data.

Ben Orr asked if this professional development was different from the PD done by the district. The answer was that this is completely different. Added that if a teacher has to go out for the training during the school day, it provides funds for a sub as well.

This is about teacher development, not about the students.

Response to Ben Orr question – this training is content focused.

This is an extra tool for teachers to be able to support our students.

Albright asked if teachers have teachers expressed a desire for this training or will they be required? It is volunteer and teachers that have been talked to have been interested in this as it will help them maximize their reach.

5.02 YMCA Addendum (Informational)

This agenda item is associated to the youth development service agreement between HSE and the YMCA. Because of reduced services provided this year, the payment due from the YMCA in June will change from $200,000 to $100,000. The following is a document related to this that was included on BoardDocs that shows payouts for the last several years:

This is a latchkey kid agreement. A five year agreement was negotiated There was a drop in 2020 for the number of students. This hasn’t increased back to where it was before.

The funds are needed because the YMCA needs the funds to be building up their program so they will be prepared if/when numbers increase.   (The notes on this (Y) stuff are a little shaky. Suggest listening online and seeing Boarddocs if this is important to you.

5.03 Excess Furniture (Informational)

This is an update on school board policy D14.00: Surplus School Property. This policy states that when the Board of School Trustees determines that any real or personal property is no longer needed for school purposes or should in the interest of the corporation be exchanged for other property, it may sell or exchange such property in accordance with state law. In this meeting they were providing information and answering questions. They commented that thy may ask for board permission to begin the scrapping process or to offer surplus goods to other government entities in the future in order to save storage and self-auctioning costs.

In the past when the district has accumulated excess furniture there has been a surplus goods auction.

  • Surplus furniture is typically a result of building renovations and updates. Fishers Junior High and Fall Creek Junior High received new furniture as part of their renovation (about 90% of the furniture was replaced, which is now stored in 4 different locations). Lantern Road Elementary, Fishers Elementary, Fall Creek Intermediate, and a section of Hamilton Southeastern High School are scheduled to be renovated within the next few years in accordance to the 10-year Building and Grounds plan.
  • The last auction to sell excess furniture was held on June 26, 2021 at Fall Creek Intermediate. As a result, $2,000-$3,000 of overtime was paid in preparation. Six trailers of goods were stored and transported by Hogan Transport for a cost of $15,395. HSE earned $5,908.13 from the auction.
  • There is another auction tentatively scheduled for July 15th this summer.

Q&A –

Ben – We weighed the cost allocation on whether it is worth doing the work or letting someone else take the stuff.  Response – yes, the auctions are very costly and take a lot of time for so little money.

Ben asked if they give it away, can we serve our own community first. Response – They have reached out to other districts in Hamilton county. 3 of them have started scrapping the material themselves to gain the proceeds.

How often is the process happening?  About every other year, although covid messed them up.

Pascoe asked à asked about 90% of materials being considered for scrapping every year. Response – things last about 20 years. It was more that the renovated schools are having things replaced closer to that level.

6.01 Temporary Loans (Action Item)

This is a standard item that happens every year. The notes from BoardDocs summarize what this is better than what I could say:

Authorization for Temporary Loans from the Debt Service Fund to the Referendum, Operations, Pension Bond Funds, and from the Rainy Day Fund to the Operations Fund

Background Information:

In order to keep these funds from having negative cash balances we need to make temporary loans from the Debt Service and Rainy Day Funds. These temporary loans will cover operating expenses and payments until our property tax distributions are received. All temporary loans will be repaid to the Debt Service and Rainy Day Funds on or before December 31, 2023. These loans are strictly for cash flow purposes.

The following temporary loan amounts were recommended:

  • Debt Service to Referendum Fund     $ 3,000,000
  • Debt Service to Operations Fund       $ 1,000,000
  • Debt Service to Pension Bond Fund   $    100,000
  • Rainy Day to Operations Fund           $10,000,000

Again, this is a standard operation. Because of the way taxes are collected.

Passed 7-0

6.02 Year-End Financial Report and Approval of Transfers (Action Item)

Board will receive monthly financials that are much more detailed. What is presented at this meeting is at a higher level done annually. This presentation is really about projecting where 2023 will end with cash balance. They shoot to have about 1/12th of a cash balance on 12/31 – end of the year.

Budget for education fund, they know there will need to be an additional appropriation. They are moving from Lotus to Excel. Some things didn’t get converted over, so they advertised a little low. They determined it would be easier to correct later as it doesn’t impact tax. Projected ending is at about 10%, but when they do the additional change, it will be closer to 9.6 (?) %.

HSE 2022 Financial Update Slides:

HSE General/Education Fund:

General / Education Fund Cash Balance:

Referendum Fund:

They were conservative in 2022 for 2023 since they weren’t so sure what they would be getting. In case the referendum doesn’t pass, they are letting some funds ride just in case they have to fill a gap.

Rainy Day Fund

They don’t stockpile money in the rainy day fund. They keep it at about $13 million. They wanted to be clear that they are not hording money there (My Comment: that was something that had been mentioned when some people were campaigning for school board).

Debt Services & Debt Service Exempt Funds

They use debt to help with cash flow. There is a limit of 15%.

Operations Fund

Cash Balances by Fund

Shows balance of all of the funds. Operations is orange, referendum, then a sliver that is pension bond, then rainy day, debt in maroon, then education at the bottom. $286 million.

Actual Rates

3.99% reduction in rate for fiscal year in 2023. It is worth noting that while slight, the rate has gone down every year since 2018 – fifth year. A bulk of the reduction is due to a reduction in the overalldebt rate.

HSE Total Tax Rate % versus Cost of Living % Change (COLA)

This shows that we are far under adjusting for the cost of living, but staying under that.

There are tens of thousands of account numbers in the district. They monitor at a higher level. They know that this will get spent down throughout the year at lower levels within the district. The computer balances everything out. They are asking for approval to shift some funds to simply net things to zero. This is all pretty routine items.


Ben brought up the referendum. He asked that if we are being more efficient now, can we continue that. Will we be able to be able to sustain some of the efficiencies even if we get more money?

Ben asked if we can find things along the way such as administrative costs that they keep those in line.

Stephanie Madison commented that assessed value have been increasing. It is a flat rate for the referendum. Just because they collect more money, they are not working to increase spending. The district is very conservative, but does plan for increases that occur every year for things such as insurance.

CFO commented — Originally the K-6 book fee was going to increase fees for families. This could have been as much as $100+. They level set this to try to keep costs to parents to no increase more than $50, so they used referendum dollars since they had them to offset this. 

(Lot said above so my notes are really rough.)

Pass 7-0

6.03 Second Preliminary Determination Hearing for the Transportation Center Project (Action Item / Public Meeting)

This is a second required “meeting” covering the updates to the transportation center. Anyone can make public comments within this meeting without signing up for the regular meeting. Comments were made at the January 11th meeting on the topic. There are four motions with this item that the board is being asked to make and approve:

For more information on this project, see the January 11th board meeting minutes or find the documents on Board Docs. I’m not going to repeat the project details here.

The CFP commented that the focus has been on educational facilities, so the area of the transportation center has been set aside. It needs to be done for safety, to account for the growth that has been done, and more. They dollars are ready to start using now for the front part of the project. The new items include things such as changing the security entrance for the transportation building to be individualized so that they don’t have people entering that shouldn’t be there.

It was also mentioned that some of the neighboring districts have had issues with workmans comp type things such as someone getting driven over (?). They don’t want to build a castle, but rather want to simply improve and update to what is currently needed by the district. The spending would not add to the school’s debt rate. They do list the potential so people are informed, but don’t expect a change.


Ray –

Since the diesel reduction act…. New buses achieve near zero level of certain admissions. The grant lets older buses be upgraded to current standards. 80 of the 2010 desiel buses should be replaced if they are not upgraded. He has questions after looking at the drawings. Some parts of lot were recently paved. Have studies been done on chemical stabilization and more. Underground storage systems…. Weight of buses including possible future electric – has it been considered for what is being built. Question on the transformers for future buses. Where is the cost for some of this being captured? Was EV equipment is part of the conduit? Will conduit be laid for all 16 stations or just 1? No data for the HSE bus has been collected to the board. A decision has not been presented to the board, so this seems premature. Suggests that current board hold off on approving until his issues have been addressed.


Katy (CFO) commented that they are not approving the construction. Katy commented that they have had core samples and other things done already. They had to add to the detention pond and remove some of the parking to address what was found. This request today is not approving construction.

Suzanne asked — Will Cumberland road need to be changed based on adding buses and the traffic. Zach responded to this. They have looked at this along with the City of Fishers on what traffic pattern impacts would be. All buses would go southbound and use the roundabout to go northbound, etc. They’ve had this conversation with FPD.

CFO said the electric bus only came online this fall so they don’t have a lot of data on that yet.

Ben asked if a price maximum could be set on this project.

CFO commented that they can’t go over the $6.8 million. If they go over that, then they have to comeback and go through the process again. By law they cannot go over the $6.8 million. They have already gone through the bid process, the board hasn’t approved that yet because the district has to go through the steps they are going through (legally). Katy is confident with staying under $6.8. They have a bidder that they simply can’t bring to the board until the current approval process is completed. They

Suzanne confirmed – There is still room for questions that were raised to be addressed. Those questions don’t impact what is being approved at this meeting. No construction contract is being awarded with the approvals tonight.

Orr asked that they look closer at long term versus short term costs. Diesel versus electric – which is better long term? Having the alternatives is good. Fuel is something they can look at costs and such. Buses are something that are a little more rigid in their use. The state says you have to keep busses 12 years, so they try to stick to keeping busses at 12 years. They tend to not keep them longer because people start pointing out issues with busses.

It was clarified that the ‘electric’ features being added are “rough ins” not actually building it.

MOTION: to approve the Preliminary Bond Resolution as presented.
MOTION: to approve the Project Resolution as presented.
MOTION: to approve the Preliminary Determination Resolution as presented.
MOTION: to approve the Declaration to Reimburse Expenditures as presented.

All four motions passed in a single vote 7-0

6.04 Policy Second Reading (Action Items):

Policies approved:

  • J07.11 Suicide Awareness and Prevention;
    • This policy was tabled. It will go to the February 1st (?) policy meeting.
    • Suzanne raised that there is a work session on the same date as the same date. She asked that the policy meeting be bumped to 9:30 so they have a full two hours for the work session since it is on RFPs for legal. Ben agreed. Admin will check availability of rooms and get back with them.
  • K05.00 Public Records (NEW);
    • Created since there had not been a district policy for public records. Rescinded policies are being combined into this one.

Policies rescinded:

  • E07.00 Data Management;
  • 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

All approved (other than the tabled one): Passed 7-0

Ben commented that the tabled policy just needed a little wordsmithing per public comment and such. They want to get it passed as well.

7. Board President – Board President Update:

Designation of Legislative, Policy, Foundation, Noblesville Economic Redevelopment Commission, and Fishers Economic Redevelopment Commission.

Lang listed who was on the various committees. This information was not posted on Boarddocs at the time of the board meeting or at the time of this posting:

  • Legislative
    • Sarah Donsbach
  • Policy
    • Sarah Donsbach
    • Dawn Lang
  • Foundation
    • Suzanne Thomas
  • Noblesville Economic Redevelopment Commission
    • Sarah Parks Reese
  • Fishers Economic Redevelopment Commission.
    • Ben Orr
  • Developing Referendum Committee
    • Dawn Lang
    • Sarah Donsbach
    • Suzanne Thomas
  • Developing a Wellness Committee
    • Juanita Albright
    • Tiffany Pascoe
  • Developing a Building and facilities Committee
    • Suzanne Thomas
    • Ben Orr

It was stated that board members will report on committee meetings each month. (My comment: This used to be done more often in the past than it has been done more recently. In past board meetings, at the end of the meetings, each member was given time to comment on board meetings they attended or other interesting tidbits related to the district they wanted to share.)

Academic Excellence –
Dawn stated the board had an executive meeting earlier this month (17th) focused on school board training and strategy. A “strategic imperative” they talked about was academic excellence (My comment: a term many of them used during their campaigning). They wanted to define what this means. They identified three value statements that centered on stakeholder engagement, fiscal responsibility, and policy as the key areas of focus. (My Comment: I thought the newly elected board members had been pointing out things like the school rankings, kids going to college, and academics were core to academic excellence, so I’ll be interested to see how the three value statements are tied to such things as rankings since such topics don’t stand out in the identified value statement areas.) The board will be having a second executive session to putting together metrics and to define how they can measure and how to get there.

There is an RFP for legal services that expires this Friday. Public notice has been posted. A separate worksession will occur on February 1st to review the proposals. This is an in-the-public meeting.

Fighting – they don’t condone any physical fighting in our schools and hope they are following policy on this. Ben Orr commented on some of the existing guidelines in the handbooks on fighting, bullying and related issues. This included that recording should not be happening without explicit permission. He read a lot of policies. “These are guidelines already in the student handbook and they would hope the administration would carry those out.” Ouch.

(Missed some stuff in the president report because a lot was said quickly, and nothing was posted on BoardDocs in advance – such as committee assignments.)

Suzanne Update on HSE Foundation

February 24th is the Game Day event at Hub & Spoke. There is information on this online. I’ve posted on it previously. It is a fundraiser for the HSE.

8. Superintendent’s Report – Matters of Corporation Interest

Did exercise student flexibility today and had a snow day. The first flex day – February 21st will now be a school day.

February is black history month. There will be events and performances around the district related to this.

Dr. Stokes thanked Mr. Orr for bringing up the handbook. She stated that our students are not perfect and they make mistakes, and adults are not perfect either. There are consequences when rules aren’t followed and they are helping kids understand this. She went on record that as adults we are role models for our students. Adults need to show respect for and among each other. She stated that when people present to the board at meetings they should avoid using names. She asked for respect to be shone.

The board does seek permission from their parents before they refer them out. They can’t refer them out without seeking parents.

Suzanne asked about the form  – was it still being used.

Dr. Stokes stated — A building principal created the form that was being discussed. That is not a district form. That form was created in a different district using legal support. The form has nothing to do with the suicide prevention policy. If that information is in the form, it is following the letter of the form. She said they can look at the form and if they need to add language to the form, they can add language. She said that she has never been and never will be a superintendent that tries to hide things. She stated that the first thing they would ask if they parent is aware and can the district help if needed. She stated that she things the statement in the form might be related to CPS issues and the safety of a kid. She doesn’t believe that they need a committee. They will look at the form and make sure things are clear.  She stated a bit more and it was a strong statement about protecting the kids. Listen online for the full statement.

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