The following are my notes from the August 11, 2021 HSE School Board meeting. These are typed live during the meeting so they might contain typos and information transcribed or heard incorrectly. Opinions are my own and subject to change. For the most accurate information, please watch the meetings live or watch the posted video of the meetings once posted.
General comment: This board meeting’s agenda is one of the lightest we’ve had in a while. Regardless, the meeting had a lot of people attend.
2. Snapshots of Success – Sand Creek Intermediate STEM Lab
Sand Creek Intermediate has a STEM lab, thanks to Media Specialist Robyn Stout. She has spent time training our staff and offering personalized professional development opportunities for teachers to learn how to best utilize this space to engage students in STEM lessons, projects and provocations. “It has been amazing to watch both students and staff show excitement in engineering design, computer science, and rich math tasks,” said SCI Principal Michelle Bunnell.
This program was pulled together last year. The program has a makerspace, robots, animations, coding, and much more. Wanted to have a STEM area in the library, but didn’t want it to compete with the books. She wanted an area where teachers could come for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) resources. She also worked to get a grant to cover getting STEM carts that could be used out by teachers as well. There are things like Snap Circuits, Spheros, and much more (cool stuff for kids IMO).
Janet Pritchett asked what parents could do to help. Robyn Stout mentioned that they with the maker space things like paper tubes and such are still great.
The VEX Robots are the things the kids get most excited about. She mentioned that the sixth grade class had performed well in competitions before. She mentioned a lot about the program including how it teaches collaboration and such. She mentioned the robotics programs are growing in our district and she plans to keep pushing until all 22 schools in the district are doing them.
Her school participate in the VEX IQ program, which is elementary through middle school. There is a different game for High School.
3. Consent Agenda
3.01 board minutes and 3.03 board text were separated from the vote.
3.02 and 3.03 without board text documents were approved with no discussion 7-0
3.01 Board Minutes – Suzanne commented on this. Board members and community members that didn’t act in the best interest but were changed to just the board members acted poorly. Approved 6-1 with Suzanne voting no.
3.03 – board text – Suzanne commented. She stated she voted no on the previous board meeting consent agenda for payments to companies like Child Advocates. She commented there are other sources of DEI materials that are less controversial. She mentioned that DEI instruction is important and they approved.
- Michelle asked a couple of questions such as whether the board was responsible for this curriculum. Answer was no.
- It was commented that consent is for paying for services already rendered.
- Brad asked if the Child Advocates training was required. The answer was “no”.
- Dr. Stokes commented that only one person commented in any sort of negative manner on this training and that comment was that the training should have been online instead of in person. She also commented that this training has been going since 2015. This was PD asked by staff for staff. Teachers are adults, so they can say if they want or don’t want to attend. In fairness to Child Advocates, she said it would be better if they could be there to defend them. Dr. Stokes also commented that only the people who have attended the training can truly say what was in the training. She said that if you have concerns with what is on the Child Advocates site, you can go to Child Advocates and raise the issue with them. She added that they are looking for other vendors because they agree that they shouldn’t have just one vendor. The training is optional.
- Vote on 3.03 was 6-1 with Suzanne voting no.
Note that at the audience was doing a lot of clapping, which is technically inappropriate at a meeting that is “In the public”.
4. Public Comments
All comments seemed to align to policy so they are moved to after 5.03.
5.01 Kirk Green – Discuss Policy/Procedure B05.07 Participation at Board Meetings
My words…. World is changing
Fishers Community is not happy with things happening in our schools especially in concern to DEI. The policy in which you are censoring the public by requiring one week and president’s approval falls outside the normal and fair boundaries by which governments and other school boards operate. He feels that the policy should be revisited and changed as the constituents want.
((Note he is not speaking for the entire Fishers Community.))
5.02 HSEngaged Update
Emily Abbotts will give a brief update on HSEngaged.
HSEngage is a new program with the goal of helping participants get a deeper understanding of the HSE schools. The program has limited attendance with 29 people of the 250 that applied being announced in the first class. (There were 30 people, but one dropped). Those that are added to the program will meet once a month over the course of the school year. The program includes the following meetings.
- Welcome and Academic Excellence hosted at Central Office
- Building A Foundation hosted at Southeastern Elementary
- The Cost of Education hosted at Sand Creek Intermediate
- Preparing Students for the Future hosted at Hamilton Southeastern High School
- Mental Health and School Safety hosted at Fall Creek Intermediate
- Behind the Scenes at HSE hosted at Cumberland Road Elementary
- It Takes a Village – Community Partnerships hosted at Riverside
- Find Your Passion hosted at Fishers High School
You can find more information on the program at https://www.hseschools.org/happenings/hsengaged
How they picked –
They looked at the 23 schools, who they represented, what kids hey had (what schools), how engaged were they in the school, the participants work history, and more. It launches in August and runs for 8 months. They hope that the members will learn a lot and push the information out to the public.
5.03 Policy First Reading: E04.00 Transportation Services; B05.01 Board Meetings
Kim Lippe will present two polices for a first reading:
- E04.00 Transportation Services
- B05.01 Board Meetings
There are a lot of changes and consolidation on the Board Meeting policy, which they had been advised to do by legal. You can find the information on the changes on Boarddocs. Similarly, multiple policies were combined for Transportation Services as well. The focus was combining the policies and no actual changes were made.
Suzanne wanted to speak before the agenda information was presented, which is not the order things happen. She was told she needed to wait until after the information was presented.
After the presentation on this policy – Suzanne commented how the old and new policies are on BoardDocs and you can see the originals and the new.
Michelle asked if they have to approve after two readings. The response was they do not.
Michelle asked if there were any half-day kindergarteners. It was stated that there are not, and that it should be changed to pre-school.
Suzanne was asked if she wanted to still speak. Couldn’t hear the response, but assume it was no at this point.
J-lettered policies refer to students related policies.
Board Meeting Policies
Combines and adds new language for board members to attend board meetings electronics. This is ased on state level changes.
The B05.0.1 number on what is presented for the new policy is likely wrong. This will likely become B05.0.0.
Suzanne made that she was not ready for this to come to a first read. She didn’t like that it refers to an external state law that could change yearly and thus isn’t a practical solution for combining 5 policies. She agrees with condensing policies, but doesn’t feel that it is right. She suggested that they adda a link to a link that states what the open door law is rather than requiring people to Google. She was told that this wasn’t doable because the law changes. She commented that when she searches for Open Door Law that there are multiple definitions. Need to make sure people to go to the right place (Indiana.gov?) and get the right, current definition.
Julie asked what specifically is needed. She said the policy is simply to follow open door laws. She commented that if the policy starts linking to sites, then that content can change. She commented that the Indiana Code (IC) is listed in the policy. Julie asked what specific sentence or clarification is needed to help people?
They can add a link to Board docs, but Julie is asking what specific wording needs to be added the policy. The IC policies are on the state site as the Indiana Code.
Brad asked how you can be more clear or concise than referencing the Indiana Code.
Suzanne commented that the open door law is very detailed. She feels it needs to be very clear and maybe there should be “current” added. (Note my question: is current when the policy was written or is current today?)
It was commented that the state changes their web site all of the time, so you never know if a link is going to be good.
It was stated that the community could visit IDA.in.gov to get to the latest information. They could add a link on the HSESchools site or on Boarddocs.
Julie commented that they want to avoid adding language stating what open door is on the policies. This would cause the policy to have to be constantly reviewed, monitored, and updated to make sure it aligns with the law. The policy is really just the main rules to follow and they should avoid making them more complicated for people to know what they are doing.
Suzanne reiterated that they are making it complicated by referring to an external law in their policy.
Julie responded that they refer to external policies in a lot of school policies.
When asked what specific language should be added to the policy, Suzanne wasn’t giving a clear answer.
NOTE: You can go to IGA.in.gov and enter the Indiana Code number mentioned in the policies in the search box and find the policies.
She commented that there are people who seem to be outside of the district or don’t have kids in the school seem to be speaking for her and her family. She chose the district because of many of the programs including DEI.
She was asked how this related to the policy.
The board members interrupted with discussion on the agenda item numbers versus policy numbers. (Brad B)
Back to her – She thinks that rules in meetings are important to keep people civil. Wants to see Fishers continue to grow and be excellent.
Speaking on policies. Wanted to urge board to look at two things. Don’t totally bundle all policies into one. Removing headings might make it harder to find the items of interest to policy. She also said that the addition of the electronic information caused some other be removed and that this might be adjusted. She commented that the requirement of 3 in person people for a quarum should be changed to 4 (which makes sense).
Son attending HSE for the first time this year. She had a question regarding the masks mandate.
Janet said that this was not on the agenda. It was offered that she could stay after. She continued to talk a bit, but was told they could talk afterwards.
She is there at the request of medical professionals. She was asked to address them in regard to masking.
Janet said that wasn’t on the agenda.
She had handouts to leave.
Has 2 children in the district. Lived here 5 years. They are happy and appreciate everything in the district. In reference to the previous man’s presentation, the previous board presented at one of the High Schools. Everyone was able to write comments on papers and there was consensus at the end of the night.
6. Superintendent’s Report – Matters of Corporation Interest
Dr. Stokes – She stated that she tries to limit what she says at board meetings because these are Board meetings and not her meetings.
Several parents and community members have raised concern about a document that was distributed. This is the Monthly Observances document. This document was about things kids might be observing or have happening outside of the standard school events. This was not created to share religious holidays. That was not its intent. The document was not intended to cause strife. She apologized for any angst that the document might have caused. They want to support all children. If the document made someone feel like their child was not supported or heard, that was not the intent.
The intent was to support the kids and it was for internal staff. She apologizes for any angst.
She also wanted to celebrate the community and everyone for the support they’ve given for the start of the school year. They are aware of the CDC guidance. They re looking to determine if shorter quarantine times are feasible.
Dr. Stokes has asked by a board member if she could talk about our staffing in the district.
- They have about392 subs. They have slots for about 72 more.
- In regard to Food Services, they need about 48 food service workers. Some staff is doing double duty. They pay positions
- There are two open routes due to last minute resignations of drivers. They would like to hire 10 to 15 more drivers.
She has received a lot of emails landing on either side of the conversation. As a district, they have recommended masking. They are following the language of the CDC. They monitor what is happening in our buildings. If they find they have a need to mandate masking in a building, they will provide the reasoning. For every position they’ve raised, someone has presented her with information for masking and for not masking. She is evidence based. The district will make adjustments as they need to.
6.02 August 25, 2021, DRAFT Agenda
Policies coming back next meeting.
7.01 Board Members Reports
Noblesville Economic Redevelopment Commission Meeting
Hamilton East Public Library appointment, Brian Meyer will continue the position. He has a clear understanding of the role. He received several recommendations from board members. She is requesting an annual update from him to the board.