October 16, 2000

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:

  • 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.

Dozer Day sponsors recognized

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.

October 3, 2000

As the Hamilton School District moves toward programs and initiatives that are based on results, rather than just inputs, School Board members approved a program report that incorporates the new approach.

Educational Services and Human Resources Director Dean Schultz highlighted the many services and programs offered to students who are at risk of failing school. At the high school level they include Empower Academy, the alternative high school, the PASS Program, reading resource, Club Success, Summer School, advisement resource, the Learning Center and School Age Parent Program.

Interventions for middle school level students include the STAR Program, reading resource, Skill Master and Summer School transition and promotion. Elementary programs include Title I and Chapter 220 tutorials, extended day, Voyager Program and Summer Enrichment Educators Camp.

Detailed baseline data for each of the programs has been gathered and were reported to the School Board. Data will be collected and reported each year as the effectiveness of existing programs is studied.

School Board member Michael Hyland suggested providing the data to the Community Budget Advisory Committee that meets each year to study and make budget recommendations to the School Board.

In curriculum issues, Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., reported that all core curricula are aligned with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. Each subject area has performance standards that are benchmarked at grades 4, 8 and 12. She said the next step is to ensure that the curriculum is implemented in classrooms with the further development of units and lessons.

World language, music, art, health, physical education, business education, technology education and family and consumer education teachers have identified ways to reinforce the core curriculum standards in their classes. They will also align their curriculum to state standards. Family and consumer education will be presented to the School Board in June 2001 and business education in September 2001.

Bauman also reported the Academic Progress Profile would be implemented this fall. Achievement of students through sixth grade will be documented on standards-based benchmark assessments in mathematics and reading. Academic performance assessment scores of students in grades 7 to 9 will be recorded. The data from the profile will provide teachers, students and parents with ongoing information concerning student mastery of district curriculum and state standards, according to Bauman.

The district’s guidance curriculum was the topic of School Board discussion and ultimate adoption with one member voting against it. Bauman explained that the state requires schools districts to provide guidance and counseling services. The district offers a K-12 program with preventative, response and crisis components.

The preventative component, referred to as developmental guidance, amounts to about one lesson per month in each elementary classroom, four times a year in middle school classes and less often in high school. The responsive component includes students who come to the school counselor with a concern and the offering of group meetings among students who have parent permission to participate. School counselors are also available to support student needs during a crisis, such as death or other upsetting situations. Parents are able to opt their children out of the guidance program.

School Board member Jennifer Rude Klett said she was “not wild about the guidance curriculum.” She said that she would rather have her children doing more mathematics rather than participating in guidance.

Most parents are doing a good job talking to their children about the issues raised in the guidance program, but the program is designed for the five percent who are not, she said.

Several School Board members, include Deborah Briggs, Gabe Kolesari and Dawn Van Aacken, supported the program.

Briggs said that while most parents are teaching their children important content of the guidance curriculum, not all children come to school with their basic needs met. She said she did not believe that one 30-minute lesson each month was excessive.

Van Aacken said sometimes children need to hear messages from people other than their parents.

Kolesari said that intervention and support early could help prevent additional expenses that come from programs designed to support students when they get older.

School Board President Gerald Schmitz noted that school districts are required to have a guidance program.

“The only way to make a change is in Madison,” Schmitz said.

With a total of 3,885 students, district enrollment increased by 149 students over last year’s count, according to a report given by Schultz. Marcy, with a drop of 13 students, was the only school with decreased enrollment. Lannon was up 46 students, Maple 17, Willow 1, Woodside 22, Templeton 25 and Hamilton 51.

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Maple Avenue aide Pamela Jajtner and Hamilton student supervisor Arthur Colaianni;
  • approved appointments of Templeton aide Kelly Jurasovich, Hamilton aide Colleen Schmipf and Woodside part-time second grade teacher Julie Roebelen; and
  • adjusted the contract of Templeton world languages teacher Sara Laufenberg to include an additional .2 position.