Fishers Town Council proposes to buy land from school district

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Fishers Town Council member Stuart F. Easley appeared before the Hamilton Southeastern School Board Monday morning to propose the purchase of land by the city from the school system.

Under the proposal to be introduced to the council next week, the city would pay about $3 million to the school system for the land. The city would then use that land for a fire station or a park.

That money would help offset the budget deficit the Hamilton Southeastern School District is facing this year.

"If this keeps going in terms of our income from the state and our growth of students, if we don't do something between now and 2017, we will be $30 million in the hole. That is not acceptable," said Superintendent Brian Smith.

The district is also planning to offset the deficit  by upping "pay to participate" or "pay to play" fees, selling graduation CDs, charging for diplomas and covers, adjusting facility charges., offering half-day kindergarten with parents providing transportation and a modified health care plan.

Smith's goal is to cut $5 million over the next two years, but he insists the cuts will not touch teachers or the classroom.

"There is that feeling that looks like a rich school district," Smith said. "Well, sometimes appearances can fool. We are struggling to maintain class sizes. We want to maintain test scores. That is a priority for us."

That is due in large part according to Smith to the current school funding formula which leaves HSE as the second lowest-funded school system in the state, despite serving 20,000 students. Now, he is asking parents to help out.

Probably the biggest surprise here at Hamilton Southeastern is not what is on the list, but what is not on the list. Transportation is so far hands-off.