HSE Faces Several Budget Issues, Referendum
The school year is well underway and the Hamilton Southeastern School District is faced with several pressing issues. The budget deficit is up over $5 million dollars and they are looking to property owners for help. The HSE school board is suing the state with objections stating they were shortchanged in the newly passed budget this year. There’s a growing frustration over the challenging grading scale, which many say is having a negative impact on HSE students.
First, the budget deficit. Voters will be asked to pass an operating referendum November 10th, which would raise property taxes by one percent to help cover some of the budget shortfall.
I recently asked HSE Superintendent, Dr. Brian Smith, if he thought the referendum would pass.
“I am cautiously optimistic. The more people I talk to, the more they support the referendum because they realize it won’t cost as much as they thought it would.”
The Superintendent says a $100,000 household would pay just $3 dollars a year for the first few years, and a $250,000 household would pay around $14-15 dollars for the same period of time. “ It is not that much when you are talking about saving a teacher’s job or keeping classroom sizes from increasing,” Dr. Smith added.
The referendum is only a short term (7-year) band-aid to what Dr. Smith says is a bigger problem: The inequity in school funding by the state.
IPS receives more than $8,000 per student, while HSE receives $5,800 per student.
“I know IPS needs more, but the disparity is just too much,” says Dr. Smith.
These issues led to the board filing a lawsuit asking for additional funding. If they win the lawsuit, the board would drop the tax increase. The lawsuit will be paid for with funds from the sale of land owned near Geist Elementary School (Olio and 104th).
And finally, an issue that doesn’t cost money, but is generating just as much concern, if not more:the HSE grading scale.
Many parents, students and others are contacting schools and administrators saying they are concerned the district’s steep grading scale will have a negative impact on a student’s opportunities,especially when it comes to scholarships and college admissions.
For instance, Carmel, North Central, Lawrence Central, Zionsville and Noblesville use the 90, 80, 70, 60 scale, which means a testing grade of 92 would equal an “A” in these schools, but at HSE schools, the 92 grade would translate to a lower “B.”
Most college admissions representatives say they try to take a well-rounded look at a student’s application with class selection and overall achievements, but the primary focus remains on GPAs and class rankings.
One more issue affected by the grading scale: insurance rates.
Geist resident, David Kane of Kane Insurance Group, says grades are a major consideration when insuring a teen driver. “A good student discount is a huge percentage discount on your car insurance,” says Kane. “If the grading scale is more demanding than other districts, it is harder for a student to maintain the required B average and that could cost a family hundreds of dollars a year. Just another unfair layer to all of this.”
A committee has been formed of teachers, parents, students, administrators and hopefully, some college admissions representatives to review the grading scale and make recommendations. We will keep you posted, but in the meantime, we would like to hear what you think about some of the issues HSE is faced with this year.
- How do you feel about HSE’s grading scale?
- Will you vote “yes” for the Operating referendum November 10th?