In 2013, the Hamilton Southeastern School District will embark upon multiple initiatives that have the potential to change education’s landscape for Fishers students.
The initiatives: senior academies and HSE 21.
Supt. Dr. Brian Smith said a referendum that would decide the fate of funding for two senior academies – one at Fishers High School and one at Hamilton Southeastern High School – was scheduled for May 7.
The new expansions, plus maintenance mainly for HSE, have a price tag of $95 million.
HSE School District CFO Mike Reuter said if the voters approved the academies, it would mean an increase in the tax rate. The increase will fluctuate as bonds pay off and roll off, he said. At its maximum, the rate increase will be 13.5 cents, at its minimum 3.6 cents.
“The question (on the referendum) will be a bit confusing because it will read purely as a tax increase, but there were will also be some bonds rolling off at that time that will offset much of that,” he said.
Reuter said additional maintenance amounts to three-quarters of a cent on the rate, and that the district would have to take on those costs no matter what. The maintenance costs are already included in the rate change.
According to Smith, building the academies is cheaper than building a new school, and if a new school was built, it would require students to be pulled out of their current schools.
“… Nobody likes to be redistricted,” Smith said.
The second project rolling forward in 2013 is the HSE 21 initiative.
HSE 21 has multiple facets, including project-based learning, common core curriculum and getting a computer to every student at HSE.
It will take multiple years to get computers to students, according to Smith and Reuter, but it will start with professional development for teachers.
The district’s goal is to replace textbooks with digital content created by teachers, Smith said.
By adopting the common core, the biggest change will be in the way the schools teach, as the focus shifts to critical thinking skills, real world applications and project-based learning, Smith said.