HSE school district responds to redistricting concerns

(WISH Photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – Thousands of Hamilton County parents will learn Monday if their children will have to move to a different school next year.

The Hamilton Southeastern School Board of Trustees is expected to vote tonight on a new redistricting plan.

If approved, about 1900, or a quarter of the district’s elementary aged students, will start the next school year in a different building. Redistricting would affect 12 elementary schools and four intermediate/junior high schools.

Interim Superintendent Dr. William Carnes said his job is to present the preferred plan to the board. It’s the finalist of nine possible scenarios a public committee drafted. He’s hopeful the board will approve the final draft.

Dr. Carnes said he wants to get the ball rolling on redistricting before Jan. 1. He said the district wants to make the transition for students who are moving as smooth as possible.

HSE needed to redraft boundary lines for schools because some were overcrowded and others underutilized.

The district also wanted to cut down the distance some students have to travel, putting them with a closer school.

“It’s really important as our population has shifted that we respond to that shifting. That’s what redistricting is really all about,” he said.

Public hearings and surveys were conducted to get feedback from the public.

Dr. Carnes said through all of their methods of public participation, more than 7,000 people chimed in on how redistricting should happen.

“They’re going to have to go all the way over here, going past three different schools to get there,” said parent Jeff White as he looked at the proposed redistricting map.

It’s not the vision he had when his son was enrolled at Sand Creek elementary. “My son Sam yesterday learned for the first time that he may be moved and he was just absolutely bawling over it,” he said.

Several families including White told 24-Hour News 8 that some neighborhoods, specifically the more affluent type like Hamilton Proper, might have swayed the school board and committee that drafted the maps to benefit their children.

“There were two school board members that were invited one of (Hamilton Proper’s) meetings,” acknowledged Dr. Carnes. “And they chose to do so. It’s part of the area they represent, but that was not part of our formal process. (Hamilton Proper’s) opinion weighed no more nor less than anyone else that we asked.”

Brian Myers, President of the Hamilton Proper Community Association, responded to the claims in a statement saying:

“As president of the Hamilton Proper Community Association, I can tell you that the Association played no role whatsoever in influencing or attempting to influence this matter. The Association held no meetings on the subject nor did it issue any position on it.  Like many other communities, we did have a number of residents who expressed their concerns with the various proposals.  All of them did so in their individual capacity. “

Now as the board prepares to make a decision, White has to prepare for change.

“They just had a big drive where they had all the kids get Sand Creek Elementary school gear to support the school but what are they going to do now,” questioned white.

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