Hamilton Southeastern School Board approves later August start, 6-1

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The HSE School Board. Back, from left, John DeLucia, Mike Bottorff, Supt. Allen Bourff, Matt Burke and Terry Tolle. Front, from left, Amanda Shera, Sylvia Shepler and Michelle Fullhart. (Submitted photo)

The Hamilton Southeastern School Board held a special meeting Nov. 29 to again consider the school calendar for 2018-19, 2019-20 school years. After an hour and half of board and public discussion, the board voted for the more traditional school calendar beginning Aug. 8 for students.

There was standing room only available even though the meeting was held at Fishers Junior High School and a range of members from the public, including parents, teachers and more, spoke.

“We are gathered here tonight because we live in a tremendous community of 21,000 students and 2,500 staff,” Board president Matt Burke started the meeting with. “We, as your board, while we take great pride in students and staff, we are part of much bigger system of laws and rights that give us protection, a need for system of checks and balances.”

Burke praised HSE district students who launched a petition regarding the calendar.

Prior to public comments, board member Terry Tolle gave a reason as to why he preferred the Aug. 6 start date.

“More family time during holidays, I think that’s important. We got strong feedback against that plan so I will yield to the desires of the community, but I just want everybody to remember when we make these decisions we are not doing it just so someone has to get child care two days in August versus two days in November,” he said. “We are doing it because were looking out for long term viability of our community and our state.”

Those who spoke shared concerns of desiring a longer summer, ice cream social and other beginning school activities being possibly pushed back into July due to an Aug. 6 Monday start and limited snow days.

One speaker was Janet Chandler, president of the teachers’ association. The association administered its own survey to teachers in the HSE district.

“95 percent of teachers that responded wanted to start school on Wednesday and 94 percent wished as teachers a full two weeks of winter break,” she said. “There is no perfect calendar, but one thing hasn’t been mentioned and that’s trying to balance the number of days in each semester. Students should receive the same curriculum experience in both semesters.”

At the end of the discussion, some solutions to concerns included e-learning days in place of snow days, and that HSE would not pursue a full balanced calendar.

The board passed the more traditional calendar starting Aug. 8, 6-1, with Syliva Shepler the only member voting against.

For more, visit hse.k12.in.us.


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