Turnout low, but referendum passed


By Dan Domsic and Robert Herrington

With about 68 percent of the vote, the Hamilton Southeastern School District’s referendum funding expansions including senior academies at Fishers High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School passed last week.

More than 6,000 voters came out to the polls to vote on the question that would lead to a property tax rate increase to fund the $95-million project, including repairs to HSEHS. A total of 4,316 voted yes on the public question, and 2,043 voted no.

“Hamilton Southeastern students will be the benefactors of this referendum,” HSE Supt. Brian Smith said in a statement. “It allows us to move forward with high school additions that provide space to accommodate a larger enrollment but also facilities that support an instructional shift that will better prepare our students for post-secondary education as well as the jobs of tomorrow. This community has always valued its schools, and we are grateful for its continued support and this vote of confidence for the future.”

Only 10.4 percent of registered voters eligible to vote for either the HSE referendum or a $28-million referendum posed to Noblesville residents participated.

One Fishers voter, Mark Mcconaghy, is originally from Noblesville and his kids went through the city’s school system. He voted yes.

“Really, it’s just about maintaining the quality of the community and maintaining property values,” he said.

During the last few days leading up to the Tuesday referendum, an opposition group named “HSE Helpers” became active on Twitter, www.hsehelpers.org and by posting “vote no” signs throughout Fishers.

An email to HSE Helpers was sent to learn more about the group’s position and leadership, but was not returned as of publication time. The group’s Twitter account did not become active until May 5.

Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson said there were no issues with the special referenda voting.

Richardson said the exact amount both Noblesville and Hamilton Southeastern will pay for the referendum was not known at print time.

“Anything that can be fully assigned to a school corporation will be,” she said.

Each will pay for the poll workers, their meals and other expenses of polling places. The remaining items – like machine maintenance and publication – will be prorated 60/40 (HSE/Noblesville) because of voting population numbers. To assist in cost saving, Richardson said the number of poll workers was cut back from five to three and locations with multiple precincts had only one inspector.

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