Take a drive down Olio Road these days. Notice the portable classroom units near many of the HSE facilities? Now imagine those doubling. How about tripling? Indeed, that is what may happen if the community does not pass the HSE Capital Referendum on the November 2 ballot.
Growing by more than 800 students each year, HSE is the fastest growing school district in the state. The greatest urgency for space is at Hamilton Southeastern High school, which will be 800 students over capacity by 2012. Our elementary facilities will also be overcrowded by 500 students by 2013.
Lis Murray has a first grader and a preschooler in the district and worries, “HSE is a strong district, but cramped classrooms and portable units do not provide an ideal learning environment. I worry about the pressure it puts on both my boys and their teachers.”
The HSE Facility Plan on the ballot will address capacity issues at HSEHS first by converting HSEJH into a HSEHS Freshman Campus and constructing a new HSEJH, each opening in 2012. Next, the plan also provides for a new elementary school to be built, opening in 2013.
This growth is not simply a projection, but it is a reality, says Freedom Kolb, chair of the Maintaining Excellence Political Action Committee. “Students that are already in the pipeline will stretch our facilities. We know that the current senior class has 1,053 students; yet, the first grade class has 1,667 students. I believe it is our responsibility to maintain the excellence in education we have come to rely on from HSE. I’m excited to be a part of planning for our kids’ future.”
Due to recent changes in state law, school districts must now seek approval for large construction projects, even if the project has no tax impact. In fact, the HSE Facility Plan on the ballot will not increase the tax rate. HSE is retiring bond debt from older buildings that can then be utilized to build the new facilities. Simply put, the district is asking permission only to proceed with the plan and build these facilities.
The referendum is not simply an issue for parents, but truly impacts the entire community. Many of the accolades Fishers receives specifically highlight strength of schools as a vital component in creating our dynamic community. Alan Bird, president of Complete Office Supply and member of the Fishers Chamber of Commerce, agrees, “In many ways HSE is the backbone of our community. The school system attracts new residents who are key in attracting new business and creating strong property values.”
State law restricts HSE from funding or promoting a capital referendum. As a result, the Maintaining Excellence Political Action Committee will lead, promote and fund the “Vote Yes” campaign. Visit their webpage at www.hsegrows.org today to learn more, request a speaker or reserve a yard sign. For the complete HSE Facility Plan, including costs and alternatives considered, go to www.hse.k12.in.us.