The HSE Superintendent Advisory Committee (SAC) – Meeting January 18, 2022

The following are my live notes from the January 18th Hamilton Southeastern Superintendent Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting. This is a meeting that happens every other month. The meeting includes Dr. Stokes and members of her administration team as well as representatives from around the district. More specifically, the meeting includes a person from each school in the district, which is generally the PTO president, as well as one attendee picked by each of the School Board members. I attended in the past as a PTO leader, and currently attend as a representative for one of the school board members.

The meetings generally have a short agenda of topics that include informational items to be presented to those attending. Today’s meeting had a short agenda to discussion the HSE Foundation, Geist Half Marathon, Board Goals, and then briefly, Masks with a Q&A.

The following are my live notes from today’s meeting. I captured these in an outline form with the base numbers being the four key agenda items:

HSE Foundation –

  1. Game Day – This is the biggest fund raiser the HSE Foundation does each year
    1. Looking to add some ‘fun’ things that can be done virtually due to pandemic
    2. They are still planning event.
    3. All PTOs have agreed to donate baskets (So when this event gets close, watch for the silent auction to be able to bid on them!)
  2. Student Grants requests
    1. 15 to 20 projects have been submitted by students and they look good. The Foundation hopes to be able to fund most of them.
    2. Building Scholarships ($60 to 70 thousand in funds) are being given out this year. Deadline to apply for the scholarships is in March.

Geist Half Marathon –

Leadership from the Geist Half Marathon talked about the relationship with schools.

  1. The marathon has a school program. Most schools have signed up. It was stated that there are 6 or 7 schools in HSE that have not. (Later this was said to be 8 schools).
  2. The marathon has given hundreds of thousands back to schools in the Geist area (not just HSE, but Lawrence, and others.). These funds are used for a variety of things including funding outdoor learning type activities. It was mentioned that a climbing wall was funded at one of our schools.
  3. They generally have about 1600 kids in the school program. About 900 of these are from HSE.
  4. People can also donate money on the Geist marathon site that goes back directly back to schools for the wellness program. (I believe they said that funds that are donated can be targeted to specific schools/districts).
  5. School teams have from about 8 runners to about 150. There are still about 8 schools in HSE that don’t have runners. She listed the schools (Durbin, Lantern Road, NBE, Sand Creek, Southeastern Elementary, FCJH, FHS, etc.). They would like to see if they can start teams in all the schools. A team doesn’t require a coach.
  6. One benefit they offer schools is that they have tents at the event for the schools to gather.
  7. Q&A – 
    1. The cost to students is $30 for the 5K, $45 for 10k, $55 for the half. School coaches run for free. Free & Reduce lunch kids get a free entry as well. They offer the same cost to parents that their kids get.
    2. There was a question about starting a sprint triathlon. It was asked if this was something that could be started in September or something. They will connect with the person that asked this to get more details.
    3. They generally recommend one coach for every 25 kids. Parents don’t have to do the event with their child. The school tents allow kids to start and gather at the same location.
    4. Every school seems to do signups and such differently. If a school has a team, then the coach knows how to register as part of the school. Those without a team can contact the Geist leadership at .
    5. How does Geist determine what programs at schools to fund with the money they earn? They send the funds to the HSE Foundation. The Foundation can then allocate the funds appropriately.
    6. They had 900 kids in 2019. Hoping for 1000 this year. (There is a pandemic, so if that happens, a number of people will be amazed.)

Board Goals –

Dr. Kegley presented part of the Board Goals that were presented at the previous HSE School Board meeting. The focus was on three of the goals. The fourth goal that wasn’t presented is focused on the School Board rather than the schools or district.

  1. District Goals
    1. Communication
    2. Academics
    3. Operations
  2. What was covered related to District Goals is also covered in my HSE School Board Meeting notes.
  3. Goals are used for guideposts for schools. It takes time to attain goals.
  4. Board wanted a goal that was aspirational, but fit the district.
    1. See Metric/Objectives image above
    2. When compared to the top 10% of the school districts in Indiana based on enrolment, HSE will strive to be in the top five in eight specific categories in 3-5 years.
      1. Size – There are people that say we should be number 1 in the state…. When you do this, it doesn’t take into consideration all the factors. An example was presented of comparing crime rate in Fishers to Indianapolis. Comparing Fishers to like cities would make more sense. As such, the top 10% is trying to do a comparison.
        1. In a smaller district (one has 20 kids), it is easier to move the needle when trying to adjust a score.
        2. The three schools above HSE in size are urban city schools, so the demographics are a little different.
      2. Demographics – It has been asked why would HSE be compared to IPS when their demographics are so different?
        1. Schools similar in demographics would be schools like Brownsburg, Avon, Noblesville, Carmel, etc.  When it comes to the size comparisons, Dr. Kegley looked at comparing to schools in just the top 5% in size. To get those schools that are more demographically similar, he expanded to 10%. That pulls in the schools more similar in demographics.
      3. Data in Metric/Objectives chart above for the Goals contain 2021 data, except for attendance. There were comments in the past that HSE dropped last year. The charts compare across schools, so all schools dropped. The only 2020 data point is the attendance data. That was reported differently last year due to virtual.
        1. “Corp” in the data is the district number
        2. The data in the chart works as a baseline to work over time.
        3. What is not in the chart is high school specific information. They used to give iLearn at 10th grade. That is transitioning to the SAT. This is the first year that all Juniors will take the SAT. In the past the SAT was optional. (First week of March all Juniors will sit for the SAT).  Dr. Stokes clarified – the scores are likely to drop because all kids are taking the test. Kids that don’t want to take the test (or feel a need) are not likely to try to do their best.
          1. It was asked in the meeting if the rigor of the SAT is similar to the iLearn. Dr. Kegley responded. The SAT is taken as a Junior (versus the iLearn’s Sophomores). When he was a principal, Dr. Kegley had recommended people wait to take the SAT until they’ve taken Algebra 2. He knows kids are better prepared or success on the math section if they’ve had Algebra 2. There will be more rigor for some kids. He reiterated that all kids across the state are taking it.
          2. Not every kid wants to go to college. The admin hears, “Let’s prepare our kids for what the work force needs and what kids have a passion for”. A kid going into the trades will probably make 2 to 3 times more than a teacher. If the school has a kid that is not going to college, but going into trades, why would they have them sit for the SAT? It is what the state requires.
          3. Why not the ACT? Because the state decided SAT.
          4. We do know what the average SAT score has been in the past. But again, comparing to that when you have kids taking the test that have no plans to go to college, etc. are going to impact scores.
          5. Dr. Kegley commented that the test has changed over years. There is more application based. It isn’t just “solve and complete”. Kids have to use information from what they solved and apply it. The test is a little more higher thinking.
          6. The State is paying for the required SAT since it is replacing the iLearn.
          7. How long do we expect this to stay in the metrics for measurement? Exceptional learners, kids not going to college, and some universities are not even taking it anymore. So, how long do we expect the state to keep using this?  Dr. Stokes was looking at a different metric before the SAT. Dr. Kegley – they don’t know how long the state is going to use it. The admin has been around long enough to know what the overall goals are, so they focus on that. If the intent is how to better prepare out kids to do better on the exam, then the admin can get behind that and fill in the teaching holes to get there. They will have accommodations for those kids with special needs.
          8. The federal government requires students to have some type of standardized test in high school.
          9. A parent mentioned they had already paid for the SAT. Dr. Kegley stated he recommends kids take it twice. Kids almost always do better when they take it a second time. He indicated that it will be interesting to see how the impact of kids taking the test the second time. He thinks a lot of parents will wait to take the test the first time with the school, then if they don’t like the score take it again.
          10. Question on PSAT. These are already in place for freshman and sophomore.
          11. Is there a minimum score a kid needs to graduate since it is required?  No. You just have to take the test to graduate. There is not a minimum score now. (In the past there had been a minimum score to graduate).
          12. Graduation Pathways was set up by the State. There are criteria that need to meet. On some of the paths, the SAT will check one of the boxes for what is needed to graduate.
          13. Dr. Kegley mentioned that he has concerns for districts that have a lot of kids that are not targeting college. Hopefully this measure doesn’t hurt those districts that don’t have a lot of kids targeting college.
          14. It was asked if the district could do our own testing to be consistent over time? NWEA is done in the lower grades. Fall, Winter, and Spring. This lets us see what kids are doing over the year. This is used internally to make sure kids are on the right path.
      4. One of the goals:
        “HSE commits to research academic programs through partnerships with the city of Fishers and others “
        • Focusing just on academic abilities neglects providing the experiences that stretch the academic learning from the classrooms to other ways.

Masks / Q&A

  1. Masks / health – Continue to have mask required for indoor activities during school hours. That will change if the State level advisor goes to blue for two consecutive weeks for Hamilton County, then masks will go optional. (( Info on this is all online. ))
  2. Subs and teachers – What will this cause us to go virtual?
    • Dr. Stokes – The consideration is, at what point is it not safe due to a staffing concern? A lot of people are reaching out to try to help, but they have to follow safety concerns, so they can’t simply let people step into a classroom. There are people saying they want to help, that are in the pipeline. She doesn’t know if that is happening. (I interpret Dr. Stokes’ comment to mean that people are saying they will sub, but to do that the people have to go through the training process. Dr. Stokes would not know if the people saying they’ll sub are actually doing the training and following through.)
  3. How is Close Contact information being sent? How is this being done?
    • They do want to have consistent practices? Email families would be the recommended way. Could be a phone call.
    • One person attending commented that at a Junior High school, a teacher is positive, her child has not received any notice. Their other child at the high school, did get notified for what seemed like the same situation. It was also reported that the tracking numbers seem off at some schools, so the reporting is being questioned (as being low).

Discussion from After the meeting

Due to the meeting hitting the one hour mark, it was ended. Dr. Stokes has limited the meetings to an hour in order to “respect everyone’s time”, so unfortunately, there is less of an opportunity for asking questions at Dr. Stokes’ meetings. These meetings are less of an “advisory” meeting than they had been in the past.

After the meeting:

  • The meeting ended at the one-hour mark. The discussion regarding Close Contact reporting continued with one parent, myself, and the admin person representing the nursing staff.
  • Because of the discussion related to Close Contacts, I was unfortunately unable to ask my questions related to rumors around substitutes, around the impact of the state legislation happening, recent news announcements, or other topics.

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