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What’s at stake if Hamilton Southeastern Schools referendum isn’t passed in Nov

HSE Referendum.png
Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-20 21:54:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Typically, when voters hear that a referendum is on the ballot, they assume their property taxes are going up.

When it comes to the referendum that will be on the ballot for Hamilton Southeastern Schools on Nov. 7, that isn’t the case.

“It isn’t an increase, it is a renewal at a reduced rate,” Dr. Matt Kegley, the Interim Superintendent at Hamilton Southeastern Schools, said. “So, if we have a homeowner in the HSE school district that's already contributing to the current referendum, they are going to see a decrease in the rate if the renewal passes."

The current referendum that the district is asking to be renewed was passed in 2016. The current rate is close to $0.2275 per $100 of property value. If approved by voters, the new rate will dip to $0.195 per $100.

"For comparative purposes, if you had an assessed value of $100,000, it’s a little over $5 dollars," Kegley said.

Two parents WRTV spoke with support the renewal of the referendum. Laura Cole is concerned if it doesn’t pass her kids won’t have as high quality of an education.

"I think my biggest concern is class sizes,” Cole said. “I have elementary school kids and that class size that's no bigger than 21 or 22. That's going to go way up if we don't pass this and we know that.”

The interim superintendent confirms that is likely since the school would have to cut $26 million from the budget.

"It won’t take long for us to really impact the classroom and that would mean potential larger class sizes, fewer teachers — things of that nature,” Kegley said.

Along with impacting class sizes, extra curriculars are also at stake, as well as the district's plan to add more school resource officers over the next five years. Right now, they have eight, but they would like to nearly triple that number to 22.

"My kids have had wonderful experiences at the schools. There is so much great learning and obviously great teachers in our school districts, which is the main reason I am supportive of this," Laura Smoots, a Parent and Chair of Advance HSE, said.

According to the interim superintendent, the HSE district has the third highest enrollment in the state. But he says it's the third lowest funded district in Indiana.

We reached out to Fishers One for their take on the upcoming referendum. They sent us the following statement:

Fishers One is a grassroots organization dedicated to educating the community about the details surrounding the referendum and promoting city council candidates. Our primary focus at this time is to continue educating our community about the HSE School Referendum.

We are pleased to inform you that Fishers One will be hosting a community Town Hall on Monday, October 9, specifically dedicated to discussing the referendum. We believe that such community engagement events are crucial to ensuring that the public is well-informed about the referendum and its implications.

As the HSE Board of Trustees initiates the budget process next week, it is our sincere hope that they prioritize academic excellence, while also demonstrating fiscal responsibility in their decision-making and budget reviews. We acknowledge the support that the school board majority demonstrated in July, indicating their belief in the necessity of the referendum.

Fishers One encourages the board to be good stewards of taxpayer money, while maintaining a steadfast focus on enhancing academic excellence within HSE Schools. We believe that transparency, accountability, and efficiency should be at the forefront of their considerations during this critical period.

Our organization eagerly anticipates hearing from the administration at our upcoming town hall event. We are hopeful to receive valuable information that will further educate our organization's members. We believe that informed citizens are key to demonstrating the need and desire for the upcoming referendum, and we are committed to fostering a well-informed community.
Fishers One

For more information on a breakdown of the referendum and what it does, click here.