HSE, CCS superintendents explain need for referendums at State of the Schools luncheon


Superintendents of two local school districts asking voters to renew operating referendums in November presented their case Aug. 16 to members of the business community.

Yvonne Stokes, superintendent of Hamilton Southeastern Schools, and Michael Beresford, superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools, presented updates on their respective districts at OneZone’s State of the Schools luncheon at Ritz Charles in Carmel.

HSE voters approved a referendum rate of 22.75 cents per $100 of assessed property value in 2016; the proposed renewal rate is lowered to 19.95 cents.

“We strive in everything we do to be above average,” Stokes said. “So, we believe our funding source should also support that above-average expectation.”

Stokes said the 2016 referendum helped HSE reduce its class sizes by hiring more teachers and staff, add counseling opportunities, eliminate program participation fees and increase the supply budget. Renewing the operating referendum will allow those efforts – and others – to continue, she said.

CCS is asking voters to renew its operating referendum rate of 19 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Voters initially approved the rate in 2017. Without the renewal, Beresford said the district would lose nearly 20 percent of its education fund, which is primarily used to pay teachers and provide benefits.

In addition to asking voters to renew the referendum, Beresford said community members can make a difference by countering inaccurate information and narratives and work to “elevate the teaching profession.”

“There’s a lot of bad narratives out there,” he said. “We need people to stand up and say, ‘Wait, I had great teachers. My kids had great teachers. Teachers are awesome. Don’t talk smack about my teachers.’’