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Fishers families fight against new HSE Schools calendar

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Fishers families are fighting back after an unpopular Hamilton Southeastern School Board decision this week would change the calendar for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

HSE School Board members voted 4-3 to adopt a more balanced-style calendar starting in the 2018-19 school year on Monday, Aug. 6, and extending Thanksgiving break to a full week of vacation. The more traditional-style calendar was voted down 5-2 earlier in the meeting, and listed the start date as Wednesday, Aug. 8, and maintained a three-day Thanksgiving break. School started Aug. 9 for the 2017-18 school year.

Students and parents took a survey earlier in the year sent by HSE Schools about the calendar. Results discovered by several students and parents revealed the majority voted to keep the traditional calendar.

Fishers High School sophomore Lucas Dillon wasn’t happy with the decision, so he decided to act.

“It kind of made me disappointed that they didn’t listen to the majority of people who took the survey, and I didn’t see the point of having a survey if they didn’t listen to it,” Dillon said. “Since we’re the ones who are being taught and everything revolves around us, I really think that students can band together and make a difference in the district.”

Dillon created an online petition with one of his classmates asking the district to consider the impact the new calendar would have on working parents, summer plans and extracurricular activities.

“My teacher for last year for world history, Mr. (Matt) Bockenfeld, he always told us to do the best for the world, and so I thought I’d try that out,” Dillon said. “I know it’s hard for parents who are working to find child care. We’d like for (the district) to reconsider the calendar.”

“I just think it puts an undue burden on a lot of families,” Roger Dillon, Luke’s dad, said.

Roger Dillon said he didn’t find out about his son’s petition until Tuesday evening.

“Of course, I said, ‘Sure, I’ll sign it,’” Roger Dillon said. “And, at first, he thought he’d only get about 20-30 signatures on there and, last count, he’s approaching a thousand. I know a lot of parents share our frustration.”

Parents 24-Hour News 8 spoke to Wednesday agreed the calendar should be changed to reflect the results of the survey.

“I’m not in favor of it,” said Mwila Meja, a mother in the district. “I just want them to consider other parents. Especially parents that work. It’s really hard, tough on us already.”

“Change it back,” agreed Young Gonsalves, who has one child in the district. “I just want it back the way it was. I enjoy the long summer. I don’t want it to be shortened.”

Hamilton Southeastern School Board members were unavailable for comment Wednesday, but released a statement explaining plans to hold a special board meeting next week. President Matt Burke released this statement:

Families of Hamilton Southeastern Schools,

After discussions with fellow board members, significant feedback from our community members and staff and in consultation with Dr. Bourff, I have requested a special school board meeting be called on Wednesday, November 29 at 7 p.m. for the single purpose of reconsidering the school calendar. On behalf of the HSE Board of Trustees, I’d like to reassure you that your board’s top priority is to continually seek what is best for our 21,000+ students and 2,500+ staff members. Thank you for your patience.

We wish you all a wonderful time of Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.

Luke Dillon said he will maintain the petition until Monday and send it to the district the next day. His petition is available here.