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District prepares for technology upgrades

By Dan Domsic

Many Hamilton Southeastern School District students will see a change at their schools starting this semester, and the district is pushing toward two major upcoming programs.

HSE21 will put an iPad into the hands of many of the district’s students. While it won’t start being rolled out to certain grades until the 2014-2015 school year, teachers have received iPads and will be learning how to pass on valuable skills for students.

Supt. Dr. Brian Smith said, “We’re going to do a lot of in-servicing this year teaching teachers how to teach students to do research properly using the web.”

Smith said the district is working toward and with its teachers on other aspects of the initiative, such as developing and phasing in a digital curriculum – learning and teaching materials that aren’t classic text-book based.

HSE21 isn’t the only initiative the district is working toward. Smith said dual credit classes and curriculum will start being phased in this year, even though the initiatives they’re tied with – the senior academies at HSE High School and Fishers High School – aren’t built.

A separate undertaking, Smith said the district has a plan for trading out up to 12 one-hour delay days for two in-service half days each semester.

He said legislation the district helped pass allows them to add minutes to the day, making it all possible and that he believed a survey asking for feedback had been sent out to parents.

There will be immediately tangible changes to many of the district’s schools this semester in the form of security changes.

“We want to assure parents that we’re providing the safest environment that we possibly can,” Smith said.

All of the schools are receiving upgrades, and some require construction. CFO Mike Reuter said the overhauls are budgeted at $1.3 million, but will cost under $1 million.

“All this is under construction right now,” Harry Delks, facilities manager, said, “and it will hopefully be totally complete by the middle of October.”

Marianna Richards, director of school and community relations, said the district plans to have most of the major construction complete by the time the new school year kicks off and that the district is confident the work will be completely finished by mid-October.

Mike Beresford, director of human resources and student services, detailed some of the upgrades at a Fishers Town Council and HSE School Board strategic planning session, namely the work being done in the buildings’ front offices.

“Basically, what we’re doing is reconfiguring the front entrances so that when somebody enters the school, they cannot get any further than the front office,” he said, “and they will not even be able to get into the front office until they identify themselves and what their business is, and then they’ll check in at the front office.”

Beresford said what is being constructed includes entryway reconfiguration, secure vestibules and buzzer systems.

He said the purpose of the entryway security measures is to delay trouble while authorities make their way to the schools, as well as provide security against more threats than just shootings, including people coming in off the road.

He said the district is keeping some of its cards close to its vest with other measures.

Upgrades are being done at all of the district’s schools, but not every school requires construction.

Smith said newer schools built in the post-Columbine era were built with security already in mind.

To learn more about HSE21, visit


Schools undergoing construction for security projects:

The 16 schools that require construction are: Brooks School Elementary, Cumberland Road Elementary, Durbin Elementary, Fall Creek Elementary, Fishers Elementary, Geist Elementary, Harrison Parkway Elementary, Hoosier Road Elementary, Lantern Road Elementary, New Britton Elementary, Fall Creek Intermediate, Riverside Intermediate, Sand Creek Intermediate, Fishers Junior High, Riverside Junior High and Fishers High School

Delks said other enhancements are being made at the HSE High School Freshman Center.

Other news from around the district:

Fall Creek Elementary – According to Principal Amy Jackson, the cafeteria is being expanded. She said construction is slated for completion before the start of school.

Geist Elementary – Geist Elementary has a new principal, Christ Thomas.

Sand Creek Elementary – Sand Creek Elementary has a new principal, Peter English.

Sand Creek Intermediate – According to Principal Brent Farrell, the school is pursuing housing the Family Resource Center, which will provide homework help, family guidance and more. If it comes together, it won’t be until the mid or late part of the first semester.

New Britton Elementary – Ashley Robinson is a new kindergarten teacher at the school. The school’s PTO also purchased 30 iPads for student use in development of HSE21.

Thorpe Creek Elementary – Thorpe Creek Elementary has a new principal, Sara Curran.