The Hamilton School Board approved a budget and a tax levy that will decrease residents' mil rate by 63 cents. The drop in mil rate is an especially welcome surprise for Hamilton taxpayers because school officials had predicted that their mil rate would decrease by only 31 cents.
The equalized tax rate for school purposes will be $12.92 per $1,000 of property for the 2000-2001 school year compared to $13.55 in 1999-2000. The 4.63 percent decrease in the tax rate is attributable to increased property valuation and greater state aid. The district's equalized valuation - including new growth and greater value of existing property - increased 8.45 percent. State aid went up 13.10 percent due to increased enrollment.
School Board members approved Oct. 16 a budget of $30,911,252. The local levy to support the budget is $19,521,628. The numbers represent a 6.73 percent increase in the budget and a 3.42 percent levy increase.
Honors Program explored
Hamilton High School Principal David Furrer reported to the School Board a school committee's initial proposal to add high school honors courses. The school's Academic Achievement Design Team has met for more than one year to focus on ways to increase student learning and achievement.
The team is finalizing a proposal to implement honors courses and will conduct student, faculty and parent forums. If the proposal is approved, implementation will begin next school year.
The intent is to offer at least one honors course in each of the core basic areas. Furrer said the design team is still discussing whether to begin offering the courses at the freshman level and build the program to include an additional grade each year, or offer the program at various grade levels initially.
Documenting student progress
Establishment of an Academic Progress Profile (APP) will help school staff meet an important Strategic Plan goal of documenting student progress over time. Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., described the work of the Assessment Leadership Team which developed the APP to compile evidence of student achievement through standardized test results and performance on district benchmark assessments.
Bauman showed the School Board an example of how a fourth-grader's progress would be charted in the APP. The student would have district-developed reading and mathematics benchmarks for first and second semesters. A classroom writing sample would be included and results from the Wisconsin Concepts and Knowledge Exam would be recorded. Classroom interventions and extensions would be indicated as well.
Bauman noted that teams of teachers developed benchmark assessments at each grade level based on the curriculum standards for their grade level or course. Teachers will administer and score the assessments and use them to identify student strengths and needs.
APP folders were created for each student in grades K4-9. Results of past standardized tests were recorded, and teachers will update the form throughout the school year. District staff members are working to include the information in student database records so that the system can be managed electronically.
Summer School reports positive news
A nearly 97 percent increase in student enrollment and good financial news were two of the positive notes in Judy Hoeppner's Summer Opportunities 2000 Program report. Hoeppner, Maple Avenue library-media specialist and assistant summer school coordinator, provided highlights of the summer program that added 24 new courses for elementary students, improved the registration procedure, increased enrichment course offerings and achieved a high degree of parental satisfaction.
This year the program operated from the district's 2000-2001 budget to take advantage of the increase in state aid for summer school programs. The state aid allowed courses to be reduced to $20 per course. Because state aid is determined based on a 3-year average, school officials expected the program to produce a deficit in this first year of more than $10,000. In fact, the program's expenses were only $1,338 more than expenses.
Hoeppner concluded her report with recommendations for next year's program that includes:
Dozer Day sponsors recognized
- explore the feasibility of expanding the program from four weeks to five or six weeks;
- continue the popular registration process, course format and fee structure;
- coordinate the program with community activities;
- expand course offerings;
- monitor finances to establish a self-sufficient program;
- consider hosting the program at three sites instead of four.
Supt. Cooke recognized the major sponsoring organization that made Dozer Day possible by presenting them with a commemorative miniature lucite hard hat. The organizations that sponsored the Hamilton Education's major fundraiser were Halquist Stone, QuadGraphics, NAI/MLG, FABCO, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Army National Guard.
Board president recognized
In honor of serving on the School Board for 25 school years, Gerald Schmitz was recognized by fellow board members, the superintendent and others who joined in the surprise reception held for him before the meeting. During the meeting, Supt. Kathleen Cooke presented Schmitz with a certificate and gift and noted some district accomplishments that occurred during his tenure.
Schmitz, elected in the 1975-76 school year, is the longest-serving member of the Hamilton School Board. In fact, for only 12 years of the district's 37-year history, Schmitz was not on the School Board. He has been School Board President since 1989.
In personnel business, the School Board appointed Lee Libecki as Hamilton student supervisor.
A reception for secretaries, bus drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, instructional and clerical support staff and food service workers was held prior to the meeting. Individuals were introduced and thanked for their service to the district during the meeting.