Hamilton Southeastern district robotics teams get $52,000 boost


Hamilton Southeastern School District robotics programs will get a $52,000-plus boost from a state grant that Fishers High School students successfully lobbied for in January 2023.

The HSE Board of Trustees heard a presentation about the grant from FHS robotics coach Jeff Fronius, who coordinated the grant application process for the district.

“We knew this grant was being proposed to the state Legislature,” he said. “I took a bunch of (the team members) out of school last year in January (2023), and we went down and helped with lobbying efforts at the Statehouse to try to help get this grant through. So, we were ahead of this whole thing. July is when it was supposed to come out and, of course, we wait and we wait. You know the state takes time. Eventually in September, this grant did come out.”

But, he said, it was a districtwide grant rather than one for individual schools and they had only three weeks to pull an application together. 

Fronius said they were able to coordinate with six other district schools and use the FHS team’s fundraising efforts for the required match. They ended up with a $52,671 reimbursement grant distributed between those seven schools for robotics expenses. 

The schools that will benefit from the grant are Hoosier Road Elementary, Fishers Elementary, Harrison Parkway Elementary, Fishers Junior High, Riverside Junior High, Riverside Intermediate and Fishers High School. 

Fronius said the funding will go toward registration fees and equipment. 

“They’ll buy a lot of equipment, which is really good,” he said. “I’d love to see some of the schools get it down to, like, three kids to a robot just because they have enough robots to do it. Then there’s more kids working and less kids standing waiting for somebody else — to get a hand off so they can put their hands on the robot. So that’s going to be a huge infusion and that’s just going to be great for the programs for all those schools.”

Board Member Ben Orr thanked Fronius for his work with the robotics program and noted that the FHS students learned more than robotics through the experience. 

“You had the kids actually engage in the grant process,” Orr said. “You took them down to the Statehouse (where) they listened, they helped talk to legislators and they learned kind of a civics lesson while they’re doing all this. It’s not just the STEM and the robotics — they’re learning about fundraising, speaking, writing.”

FHS’s robotics team won top honors at the FIRST Indiana Robotics state championship competition last April. 

Also during the Feb. 14 meeting, the board voted unanimously in favor of increasing the district’s summer physical education fee from $135 to $160. The fees had not been covering expenses for the program, which students can choose to take to earn a PE credit. 

A report to the board stated that 534 students took the summer PE class in 2023, paying a total of $72,090. The cost to operate the program was $101,258.

At the close of the meeting, Board President Juanita Albright said that the board has chosen a new superintendent for the district. A public hearing on the yet-unnamed superintendent’s contract is 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the HSE Central Office, 13485 Cumberland Rd. In Fishers. 

According to a summary of the proposed three-year contract posted on the district’s website, the terms of employment include a starting base salary of $215,270. 

Albright said the board will vote on whether to approve the contract during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 28.