HSE School Board Election Beginning to Take Shape

With the deadline to file looming at noon, Friday, August 26th, all three board seats up for election this November in the Hamilton Southeastern School District will be contested.

As of the close of business Wednesday, August 24th, two school board incumbents have filed for re-election and all three feature more than one candidate.  Howard Stevenson from Fall Creek Township and Sylvia Shepler representing Wayne Township, have filed as candidates.  Current School Board President Karen Harmer is not expected to seek re-election from Delaware Township.

In this round of school board balloting, one candidate is chosen from each of the townships that are part of the Hamilton Southeastern School District.


Here is the listing of candidates, per the Hamilton County Election Office, as of Wednesday, August 24th:


Delaware Township

Adam Harness (filed August 19)

Bradley Jones (filed August 8)

Amanda J. Shera (filed August 18)


Fall Creek Township

Mike Bottorff (filed August 22)

Howard Stevenson (filed July 27)


Wayne Township

Sylvia Shepler (filed August 12)

Charron Wright (filed August 18)

HSE School Superintendent Compliments Staff, Students During Tornado Warning

There is never a good time to endure a Tornado Warning.  Such a warning issued by the National Weather Service is a message to seek shelter immediately because tornadoes are in your area.  On August 24th, severe weather was moving into Fishers just as elementary school buildings were preparing to dismiss students for the day.

When the Tornado Warning was issued, it took teamwork among teachers, administrators and school bus drivers to get through the possible danger.  We in Fishers were very fortunate that the worst of the bad weather missed us.

Hamilton Southeastern School Superintendent Allen Bourff described August 24th as “a very long day for elementary teachers.”  He emphasized school officials will always err on the side of safety, as happened on August 24th.

In the meantime, the hardest hit community in the August 24th storms was Kokomo, a city to our north.  If you want to help your fellow Hoosiers in need, there are a number of outstanding organizations already at work in Kokomo helping the victims.  One  great organization at the center of any disaster is the Red Cross.  If you would like to contribute to the Red Cross of Indiana, use this link.

HSE Schools Gain Roughly 300 New Students

The preliminary enrollment figures are in, and Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) Schools gained about 300 additional students compared to last year.  School systems in Indiana must submit an official enrollment number as of September 16th, so the numbers are tentative until that date.

Numbers shared by Superintendent Allen Bourff show an enrollment figure of 21,309, compared to the enrollment reported to the state last year of 21,006.  For a more detailed breakdown of the enrollment statistics, use this link.

In other news items from the Monday night school board session:

–Assistant Superintendent Jan Combs presented several school calendar options for the upcoming 2017-2018 year.  One option kept the schedule largely as it is now.  Other options called for changes such as lengthening fall break to one week and starting school a few days earlier, doing away with half days of school to allow for teacher professional development in smaller time increments during the school year and other possible changes.  You can view more details on the proposals at this link.  Board members discussed possible changes, but no consensus emerged on what, if any, changes should be made to next school year’s calendar.

–The board approved a $4 rental fee hike for the Creating Positive Relationships.  Dr. Bourff says the increase covers the added cost to buy the materials.

–The board honored the national champion Mock Trial team from HSE High School.  Team members include:

Plaintiff Attorneys: Nathan Brown, Isaac Irvin, and Rebecca Liu

·        Plaintiff: Natalie Teyema

·        Plaintiff Witnesses: Emma Leonard and Kaitlyn Ross

·        Defense Attorneys: Kaleb Oliver, Kaitlyn Ross, and Joey Sun

·        Defendant: Nathan Brown

·        Defense Witnesses: Isaac Irvin and Emma Leonard

The team coach is Janet Chandler.


–The top ten readers for the local library summer reading program were recognized by the board.  They included:

Logan Lara, HSE Junior High;

Nick Molter, New Britton Elementary;

Tucker Lara, HSE Junior High;

Maya Fotedar, Fishers Junior High;

Riley Kavanaugh, Sand Creek Elementary;

Jace Lee, Hoosier Road;

Amber Liwanag, Fall Creek Elementary;

Gwyneth Lee, Hoosier Road;

Audrey Orbin, Thorpe Creek Elementary



HSE Schools to Save Millions in Bond Refinancing

Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) Schools will save a minimum of $4.5 million, and more likely gain as much as $5.6 million in a bond refinancing approved by the school board Monday night.  The refinancing is made possible by a call date option contained in the bond language.  Historically low interest rates the market is experiencing now allows for the large savings amount from this refinancing.

HSE Schools Chief Financial Officer Mike Reuter says the money saved in this action will be used to pay for the 10-year capital improvement plan submitted to the board recently by school administrators.


School Board Ratifies Contract With Teachers, Calls For An Average 3.26% Pay Hike

Teachers in the Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) Schools will see a pay increase in 2017.  As a result of bargaining between school administrators and the Hamilton Southeastern Education Association, an agreement was reached and ratified by a vote of the teachers. The HSE School Board approved the pact at the Monday night session.

The agreement calls for an average 3.26% pay increase for HSE teachers.  Teachers on the lower end of the pay scale will receive a 3% increase, those at the high end will see a raise of 3.75%, and a group of teachers in between will see a 3.5% raise.

The contract is for one year because state law does not allow such agreements to extend out further than the state’s 2-year budget cycle.  State lawmakers will enact a 2-year budget in the 2017 session.

The raise will go into effect in January of 2017.

Fishers City Council Members May Be Raising Their Pay

Council members in Fishers have been paid $12,000 a year for the past 16 years, going back to the days of Fishers as a town.  Current city council members are looking to raise their level of compensation.

The City Council Finance Committee has looked at council compensation levels in other Indiana cities and local governments, as well as one city in Ohio.  All had council pay and benefits much higher than Fishers’ $12,000.

Most council members appeared to favor an increase during a discussion at their Conner Prairie retreat.  Many numbers were proposed, but the one that appeared to have the most support was raising the pay to $21,500 per year with no benefits.

The Finance Committee will take into account the council members suggestions as the salary numbers are considered for the budget proposal to go before the council.

The city budget must be approved before November 1st, so it will most likely receive final approval at the October city council session.

Mayor Asks City Council for New Police Headquarters Building

Mayor Scott Fadness outlined plans for a new Fishers City police headquarters building to be built near the Braden building, now under construction within the municipal complex near City Hall.  The mayor told city council members at their Conner Prairie retreat that the current headquarters building for local police was finished in 1994 when the force had 30 officers.  If the mayor’s 2017 budget proposals are approved by council members, there will be 111 officers on duty.

The mayor wants the current police headquarters to be utilized by other city departments and ease the cramped quarters in City Hall.  The police department currently rents space on South Street to house several operations, and is also forced to lease storage facilities.

The new police building would be 47,000 square feet in size, with three floors.  An indoor garage would house police vehicles.

The mayor says his proposal would be tax rate neutral in funding the construction.

Fadness estimated the cost of the new building at $12 million.

The mayor indicated that if the council gets behind this idea, he would be in favor of beginning foundation work on the new police headquarters building as early as this fall.

As part of his 2017 budget proposal, the mayor is asking for 4 new firefighters and 4 new police officers, both to start July 1st of next year.  He also wants 2 additional public works laborer.

The mayor is asking for a 3% across-the-board pay increase for city employees next year.  He also wants incentive pay adjustments in certain public safety specialties.

Fadness says his budget plan will require a 2 cent increase in the municipal tax rate.  He emphasized that this still keeps Fishers’ tax rate far below cities its size and cities in this area.


Mayor Proposes Tax on Vehicles to Fund Road Maintenance, Construction

City Council members and city staff listen to the mayors budget proposals
City Council members and city staff listen to the mayor’s budget proposals


Mayor Scott Fadness proposed an Excise and Wheel tax be enacted by the Fishers City Council to fund road infrastructure within the city.  The mayor cited a law passed in the 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly, giving local governments the power to enact such levies funding street and road work.

“I know it makes everybody uncomfortable to talk about these types of conversations,” Fadness said. “I am a full advocate in support of the $25 fee (excise tax on vehicles).  I just think that our city needs to maintain its infrastructure.  I think we can clearly articulate to our residents that this money is going directly to resurfacing their roads and nothing else.”

Fadness used Bureau of Motor Vehicles data to estimate that $2.5 million per year would be raised by taxing locally owned vehicles $25 per year.

Fadness made the proposal at a Conner Prairie retreat of the Fishers City Council.  Council members voicing an opinion were strongly in favor of Fadness’ idea.

If the council chooses to enact this tax as part of the 2017 budget, the levy would not begin until 2018, due to deadlines in the state law passed this year.