HSE District Enrollment Numbers vs Survey

This year HSE Schools will be opening a new Elementary School, Southeastern Elementary. As the school nears the first day, enrollment is trending higher than projected by the district. This raises the question of how the overall enrollment in the district is trending.

In 2016 a demographic survey was presented to the HSE School Board showing changing in student enrollment for the district. The projections were for growth to get to near zero by the 2020-21 school year and to start declining by 2022-23. You can see the overall projections based on the following:

The reality is that the projected enrollments were low the first few years after the survey was completed. Statistically, being off by 100 when dealing with numbers over 20,000 is not that big of a deal. That’s less than half a percentage point. Having said that, 100 students can equate to 4 classrooms, four teachers, and an additional bus. Thus, small errors do have a real impact on the school system’s spending and planning.

In looking at enrollment numbers from the Department of Education, you can see that the tend is that there is an increasing gap between the demographic survey and actual enrollment. This started as 49 students in 2016 and increased to 141 in 2018 and 298 in 2019.

The demographic survey showed that growth would start decreasing in 2019. From 2017 to 18, the growth was 113 students. In 2018 to 2019, growth was 157 students, which indicates an increasing – not decreasing – growth of almost 50%. Projections in the survey were for growth from 2019 to 2020 to remain consistent with the prior year. This was expected to be at the projected 70 students, not the 298 actual number. It will be interesting to see how far off 2019-20 is from the survey.

The school district is talking about renovating or rebuilding Durbin Elementary School. They’ve indicated this will cause another redistricting at the elementary school level (which impacts the other grades too). This could happen within 2 to 3 years. With home construction on the East side of Fishers, the new elementary school could quickly reach capacity as well. This also would impact redistricting.

The demographic survey indicated a slow down in school growth. While the foundational logic of this slowdown makes sense. The timing of the slowdown seems to be off. The question to be asked is, how much more growth is there and when will the slowdown really start. Until that happens, the district could continue to scramble, and redistricting will continue to happen frequently.

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HSE School Board Candidate Interviews: Fall Creek Position (with video) – June 18, 2019

The existing school board members narrowed down 24 applicants for the Fall Creek Township position that opened as a result of the resignation of Mr. Bottorff. The candidates were narrowed down to four finalists that were then interviewed as a panel in an open meeting on June 18th, 2019 at the Hamilton Southeastern Administration building. I attended the interview session and brought my camera!

There were not a lot of questions asked. Each question was addressed to all of the finalists, with the order of answering changed each time so that the person going first varied. I’ve included the video of the answers on my “The Other Side of the Tracks” YouTube channel, my “It’s all about the kids” Facebook page, and within this article. I tried hard to not comment within the videos; however, there were a few times where I did end up adding a bit of textual commentary. Generally this was when candidates made comments about what the school district should be doing on topics that the district has already been doing something.

I have a disconnect with people who apply for a position or job without taking the time to understand what that job or position is. As such, when a comment is made that indicates a person has not been engaged with the district and doesn’t know what the district is doing or has done, it is hard to not call them out. In a similar manner, it is mind-blowing to know that two of the four finalists applying for a school board seat didn’t show up at the last school board meeting.

But alas, your reading this to get to the videos. The meeting for the interviews actually started with the board members introducing themselves. If you have been attending board meetings, or if you were planning to run to be a part of the group, I would have expected you’d know this information already. As such, I’m not sure why the introductions were necessary beyond the fact that most of the candidates had not regularly attended any board meetings. These introductions were followed by a presentation on the updated 10-year plan for the district. I don’t include either the board introductions or the 10-year plan discussion in the videos here, but rather will consider a different article for that in the near future.

The first video I posted jumps into the first question asked of the candidates. This question was actually posed in three parts:

What is your motivating factor for applying for this board position. Is there something you would like to accomplish during your tenure? How do you see your role in that goal?

The second question posed to the candidates was:

Please give us an example of a time when you worked collaboratively with others, and what – if anything – did you learn, and what was your role?

The third question asked was:

What attribute do you have that can help our board work together and be more effective? We’d like your answer through some examples of how you’ve worked with different groups of people that have come from different backgrounds with different opinions.

The fourth question is one I considered important. I was hoping to hear answers that would relate to what a school board does and not general answers. I was a bit disappointed in that regard. The question was:

What do you believe the greatest challenge to public education is today?

Rather than break out the remaining questions – there are only a couple more – I’ve put them all in this last posted video. It contains the final questions as well as wrap-up comments from all of the candidates.

  • What characteristics, skills, and knowledge will set our students on the path for future success?
  • What is something that you are most proud of that this school district is doing, and is there something you believe our schools could do better? (7:20)
  • Final comments from candidates. (17:00)

My thoughts….

The board will vote at the June 26th School Board meeting for the person that will fill the vacant position. The board is not allowed to collaborate in advance on who they will vote for, so it should be an interesting vote.

Who I would vote for is irrelevant because I don’t get a vote. I will say that I heard a number of good comments by the candidates, but that I saw issues with each of the candidates.

After I ran for school board in 2016, I asked many people why the voted for the person that won my district (Amanda Shera). The answers were generally “I liked her school bus signs” and “because she was a woman.” I mention this because it is important to look at actions a candidate has done within our district and schools over personal characteristics or credentials. If a candidate has not to engaged with the district or within our schools enough to know many of the big things happening, then are they really the right candidate to represent each and every one of our ~21,500 kids?

EDIT: Fixed first video link

The Ranking of the Fishers and HSE High Schools

HSE LogoHSE Schools (HSE) are stated to be among the best, so it is with interest that you should want to know how the two HSE district high schools ranked within the Indianapolis area according to US News & World Report!

Both schools made the list, but neither was at the top. In fact, the top spot on the list went to Zionsville Community High School, which was ranked second within Indiana overall. Neither school made the second or third place on the list either. Second went to HSE’s biggest rival, Carmel High School, which placed fourth for the state. Third was taken by a smaller school, Herron High School, which placed fifth in the state.

So where did HSE’s two high schools land? It was no surprise to me that Fishers High School (FHS) landed ahead of Hamilton Southeastern High School (HHS). Fishers High School was fifth in the Indianapolis area and eighth overall in Indiana. Hamilton Southeastern High School landed sixth in the Indianapolis area and just squeaked into the top ten in the state in the 10th spot.

While both schools made top 10 in the state, neither made top 100 nor top 500 in the country. In fact, Fishers High School ranked 632 in the country and Hamilton Southeastern High School was well below that at number 826.

I’ve created a chart that lets you compare a lot of the data that was reported on the two high schools and have included Carmel and Zionsville comparisons:

FHSHHSCarmelZionsville
National Rank632826305244
Indiana Rank
81042
Indianapolis Area Rank5621
Student-Teacher Ratio22:122:118:121:1
Enrollment 3250311850001928
Took at least 1 AP Exam59%63%58%78%
Passed at least 1 AP Exam40%40%50%68%
Math Proficiency64%64%71%66%
Reading Proficiency83%81%86%85%
State Testing Performance98.4%97.1%99.7%
98.7%
Graduation Rate97%97%98%97%
College Readiness45.245.851.970.6
Free Lunch Program12%8%6%3%
Reduced Lunch Program5%4%2%2%
Gender Distribution (Female)
51%49%49%49%
Minority Enrollment27%25%24%14%
STEM High School Rank237

While it is often said that the Hamilton Southeastern district high schools are the best in the areas, the data clearly presents a different picture if you based your opinion on performance. While the scores for the high schools are great, Carmel and Zionsville have proven that improvements can be made.

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Note that the Hamilton Southeastern Schools District (HSE) has two high schools. One is called Fishers High School (FHS) and the other is called Hamilton Southeastern High School or HSE High School (HHS). The sharing of the district name with a school can be confusing!

Support Me – Even Though I’m Not Here…

This week an issue came up more than once , so I thought it worth writing about. Many things that I believe are obvious, clearly aren’t for many other people. One such issue is the expectation to gain support for something when you don’t bother to show up.

If you are running for a position, or if you are asking people to do something for you, then it would be expected that you would be present when asking or when decisions are being made. Surprisingly, there were two incidents that people failed to show.

The Goat Incident…

At a City Council meeting, a local school asked for approval to have goats at the school. When the issue came before the city council, nobody from the school that could answer questions about the goats attended. Due to concerns including the potential of goat stampedes, the city council ended up discussing and finally delaying a decision.

At the June city council meeting, talks about the goat request from the school were addressed again. The difference this time was that a representative from the school attended and was able to answer questions. After the meeting a city council member commented that the thing that made the difference for the voting was the fact that a person from the school attended. Clearly, if the school was expecting to get support from the city council, they needed to be represented at the city council meeting.

The Board Meeting Incident…

This past month, a member of the HSE School Board resigned. The existing school board members get to determine who will fill the position for the rest of the term. Twenty-four people applied to be considered for the open position.

Because it was stated that the school board would determine the replacement, you’d expect these 24 candidates to do what they could to influence the board members. There was only one school board meeting between the application deadline and the time the decision would be made.

Being that these candidates were apply to be a part of the school board, you’d expect that all twenty-four would attend the next meeting. After all, what better way to solicit a vote that to attend a meeting with the people who would be making the decision. Attending the meeting would also be a chance to see some of the discussion and topics that the board was currently addressing.

Sadly, only about a half dozen, or roughly 25% of the candidates attended the board meeting in person. It seemed the other roughly 75% wanted to be voted into a position to attend future meetings even though they were unable to attend this one.

The school board announced at the meeting the four finalists for the position and asked them to stand. Only two of the four finalists stood. It is assumed the other two were unable to attend. They, like the other candidates not there, had hoped for support, even though they were not there. Of course, the two that were there had the opportunity to talk to existing board members and be seen by the administration.

The Lesson to be Learned….

For most of the school board candidates, it ended up not mattering that they didn’t show up, because they were not a part of the four finalists that the board announced. It will be interested to see at the next school board meeting if the candidate that is voted into the position is one of the two that did attend, or if the board supports a candidate even though they didn’t take the time to show up to a meeting.

From the city council meeting, the lesson to be learned is that if you want a request approved, then it is critically important that you have someone present to support your request. If you can’t take the time to show up to support your own request, then how can you expect others to support it?

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He said, “I want to write a book…”

In one of the groups I read on Facebook, a person stated that they wanted to write a book and were looking for advice. In response, a few people commented that they would like to coach him or be a reviewer. My response was a little different and a little more detailed, even though quickly written. I thought I’d share what I wrote here:

My Facebook post:

Having published 20+ editions and having helped publish dozens+ of authors get published, let me ask the first question and most important question…..

Why?

Why do you want to write a book?

The advice that you get differs depending on the answer to this question.

If you are writing to make money, then put the pencil down and step away from the keyboard. If money is your motivating factor, then you would be better off applying your technical skills in another way. This is not to say you can’t make money writing a book – many have, but more have made substantially lower amounts of money than they would have made working at Taco Bell.

If you are writing to share your knowledge on a topics then my advice would be to talk to a publisher such as WROX, APress, etc. They have people that can work with you and they will do the grunt work such as copy-editing, layout, indexing, proofing, distribution, etc. They will, however, want you to write on a topic that they agree with, and they will give you deadlines. If you go this route, people in this group can connect you with Acquisitions editors (the people that sign authors for publishers).

If you are writing simply because you want a book with your name on it, then you can still go the route of a publisher, or you can take on more of the work and self-publish. This can be done fairly easily with online systems such as KDP through Amazon. As has been stated, self-publishing means you take on all of the work.

If you are going to publish on your own, recommended steps to make sure you include are:

  • Get a copy editor. (someone to check grammar, etc.)
  • Get a technical editor (someone to run through what you write and say it works.
  • Index the book if it is a technology book
  • Make sure you honor copyright and IP.
  • Set a deadline for getting things done.
  • Don’t try to be perfect with the writing (code does need to be correct). Many authors get stuck in perpetual revisions and never complete a book.

This is a quick answer.