HSE school board looks at ways to save district money

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Hamilton Southeastern School Board met Monday night to discuss ways to save the district money, and like many districts, they’re proposing making cuts in some school programs.

The board is trying to find ways to save nearly $5 million over the next two years. As one board member put it, “we don’t have an expense problem, we have a revenue problem.”

The school superintendent and district chief financial officer gave 17 recommendations to offset cost and save money. The biggest recommendation was changing health benefits.

Co-pays would double for employees and participants. The CFO says that would save the district nearly $1.5 million.

The other big item being considered: expand pay to participate fees for students — around $100 for junior high and $200 for high school. That would generate nearly $384,000 for the district.

The superintendent says it’s tough to make these recommendations, but class sizes are skyrocketing and they have to start planning long term.

“We have tried to make cuts that do not touch the classroom; do not touch teachers,” Hamilton Southeastern’s Superintendent Brian Smith said. “We looked at administrative positions, we looked at support positions. Maintain programs at all costs. As we’ve mentioned, we’ve cut over $13 million since 2008. The question is how deep can we continue to cut?”

An option also being considered is charging students for diplomas and diploma covers. That would generate about $20,000. Selling graduation CDs would generate $5,000 a year. That would help offset graduation expenses.

All of the items are recommendations for the board to consider. They are expected to vote on April 14.

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