By Dan Domsic
In two years, the Hamilton Southeastern School District will need to make room for 1,500 additional high school students.
To secure the space, administrators have been working with designers, architects and the community on new senior academies for Fishers High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School. The project will cost $95 million, and funding will be voted on by area taxpayers on May 7.
Between now and then, a political action committee dusted off from a previous referendum called Maintaining Excellence, a political action committee, will aim to educate Fishers on its options.
And that’s where Kevin Clasen comes in.
Clasen, a Fishers resident for 20 years and a HSE Schools Foundation board member, is stepping in to serve as the PAC’s chairperson, or coordinator.
“The role of the PAC is not necessarily to promote the administration’s agenda,” Clasen said. “It’s to promote what’s best for the community.”
Clasen was asked by Supt. Dr. Brian Smith, CFO Mike Reuter and past Maintaining Excellence leader Freedom Kolb to take the reins.
By day, Clasen is a financial advisor for WestPoint Financial Group located on the north side of Indy.
He said he believed the school system was the best thing the Town of Fishers had going for it.
“Maintaining our level of excellence is really, really important to me,” he said.
It’s still very early in the game for Clasen and his team, with the first public request for committee volunteers not scheduled to take place until 7:30 a.m. Jan. 30 at the Fall Creek Township Trustee’s office, 11595 Brooks School Rd.
“That’s where we’re kind of going to communicate and find out who’s going to participate at what level,” Clasen said. “When I say ‘we’ right now, it’s me.”
Clasen said by publication date of this article it was likely the PAC’s treasurer would be chosen.
He declined to comment on who may be on his list of possible candidates.
As of last Monday, school administrators Smith and Reuter were limited to operating in only a factual capacity – meaning they could not, by law, promote voting yes on the referendum question. Those working in the school system, outside of Smith and Reuter, are supposed to use their own time to promote the referendum.
Clasen said Maintaining Excellence did not have a fundraising goal, but it would take any contribution.
Getting people that are supportive of the new senior academies out to vote on May 7 is the challenge, Clasen said.
According to Smith and Reuter, the only item on the ballot will be the referendum. Unlike the recent town versus city referenda items, there will be no major election to drive numbers at the polls. At the same time, Noblesville Schools will also be holding a referendum, so some costs could be shared.
Reuter said one of the last school referendums cost approximately $38,000.
Reuter did not have an exact dollar amount available, but this referendum should be less expensive, he said.
Smith said he recently spoke with a senior academy naysayer for an hour explaining the ins and outs.
“Our challenge is how do we do that with a broad group of people,” Smith said It’ll be part of Maintaining Excellence’s goals, while it will be supportive of the academies.
“If we don’t add on, we’ve got a problem of class sizes and things like that in my opinion from what I’ve read and what I’ve studied and how involved I’ve been,” Clasen said.
For more information on the senior academies visit www.currentinfishers.com for previous coverage, including articles “Early concepts for senior academies presented” and “Senior academies, HSE 21 major projects for school district.”
Contact Clasen at firstname.lastname@example.org for opportunities with Maintaining Excellence.
Meet Kevin Clasen infobox:
Kevin’s Family: Wife Shelly, daughters Haley and Cassidy
Alma Mater: Indiana Wesleyan University
Favorite hobbies: Golfing and target shooting
Favorite team: University of Kansas Jayhawks