No Tax Hike, Just High Stakes

HSE Schools Referendum Explained

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Nearly 1,300 kindergarten students embarked on their K-12 journey with Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) schools back in August. They will enjoy hands-on, experiential learning with sought-after educators in a safe, modernized school environment as they develop and grow.HSE

While the class of 2036 isn’t likely pondering the ramifications of another referendum, for their sake, many people are.

The HSE school community will face an important question on the November 7 municipal ballot. If HSE schools are to continue safeguarding teacher salaries, student safety measures and a broad range of course offerings that contribute to academic excellence, HSE residents need to vote yes to support the operating referendum reduced-rate renewal.

“It is necessary to continue referendum funding, but at a reduced rate, in order to ensure the district can uphold and improve its high standards,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Matt Kegley. “When compared to other traditional, public school corporations throughout Indiana, academically we rank in the top 15 out of 290.”

HSE ranks third from the bottom in terms of state funding among the 371 school systems across Indiana. The 2016 referendum provided the necessary funding to lower class sizes, offer competitive pay and benefits to teachers, and expand learning opportunities.

If approved by voters, the referendum will maintain the current funding level of an estimated $25 million per year for HSE Schools, without requiring a tax increase.

“The majority of the funding will be used to maintain smaller class sizes, by retaining 126 full-time teachers,” says Chief Financial Officer Katy Dowling. “Additionally, HSE will be able to enhance its building safety by increasing the number of school resource officers from eight to 22 for 24 schools.”

Dowling notes the maximum tax rate on the ballot has been reduced from $0.2275 to $0.1995, which is more than a 12% reduction from the rate passed in 2016. That means taxpayers will not see an increase on their annual bill.

“The cost for a $250,000 home would decrease by over $60 in 2024, with an ongoing cost of $20 a month,” says Dowling. “It’s a modest investment in maintaining our schools’ quality and increasing our home values.”

HSEMembers of the Fishers City Council agree. The nine-member council unanimously approved a resolution on July 12 in support of the referendum renewal, which has also been endorsed by the OneZone Chamber of Commerce.

Upholding HSE schools is pivotal not only for the class of 2036, but also for the community’s economic prosperity and beyond.

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The referendum ballot language voters will see in November is established by Indiana law. Because of how it must be worded, it may not be obvious that the operating referendum renewal maintains the benefits from the 2016 measure, but with a lower cost for you. In simpler terms, you won’t be paying more in taxes. To get a clear explanation of what the ballot question means, and to find a useful tool to figure out how it will affect your finances, visit

Comments 2

  1. Sean says:

    Stokes resigned last week. Where is the fact checking?

    Did townposte receive money for syndicating this?

  2. Dave says:

    Great to see this getting the visibility it deserves! Such an important piece of what makes Fishers a great place to live and raise our kids!

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