March 19, 2001

Reducing class size at Templeton Middle School, hiring a guidance staff member for expansion of PLAN and EXPLORE test requirements and adding a technology-assessment coordinator were recommendations that need “urgent and immediate attention,” according to members of the district’s Community Budget Advisory Committee.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Pauline Wasser identified the group’s priorities for budget consideration. Already the School Board included in its initial 2001-2001 budget development of high school Honors classes and a contingency teacher for unanticipated enrollment increases.

A second level of importance for the committee included staffing for gifted and talented services and higher-level high school writing classes.

Some 25 other items were listed as Level Three – good ideas to consider in the future when funds are available. Included in this list were special education and health room aides, elementary band teacher, cognitive disabilities and classroom teachers, elementary counselor, secretary and program support.

Wasser used words from the district’s mission statement – “to ensure maximum achievement for each students” – in underscoring the committee’s goals.

Wasser said the committee recommended the Templeton class size reduction because members believed that reducing class sizes is the most important tool to ensure maximum achievement for each student.

“Based on class sizes, projections for next year and parental experiences, we believe that the situation at Templeton is of paramount importance and demands immediate attention,” Wasser said.

When asked, Supt. Kathleen Cooke said Templeton class sizes now range from 25 to 31 students per class.

Wasser said the committee saw value in reducing class sizes at all levels.

Earlier this year, the Strategic Plan team urged the School Board to require all eighth- and 10th-graders to take the EXPLORE and PLAN tests, respectively. The tests are precursors to the ACT test.

“Testing is a reality of our children’s lives today,” Wasser said as she provided rational for the guidance position to implement the additional required testing.

“We recommend this position because of the breadth of the student population that would benefit from this assistance,” Wasser said. “This position would assist those students identified early on as having tremendous potential for success, as well as assisting students who would truly struggle, now an after they leave high school.”

The technology-assessment coordinator position has been a priority for previous Community Budget Advisory Committee.

“We no longer have time for this to be a long-term goal,” Wasser said. “This position is key to preparing our students . . . There world is technology and we would be shamefully remiss to act otherwise.”

Wasser said committee meetings led to “lively dialogue” about the need for a referendum and increased community awareness regarding needs of the students.

NCA participation approved

School Board members learned that the North Central Association (NCA) accredited Hamilton and Templeton for the 2000-2001 school year. The accreditation process aligns with the site planning process and provides accountability for greater focus on students learning. School Board members approved participation in the NCA process for the 2001-2002 school year at a cost of $675 for Templeton and $800 for Hamilton.

Open Enrollment process reported

Open Enrollment Coordinator Erica Bova-Brown described the process parents and students use to participate in the Public School Open Enrollment Program.

Writing-technology position detailed

Debra Figueroa updated the School Board about her one-year writing and technology support teacher role she is performing because of a Technology Literacy Challenge Grant the district received. She described how she works directly with students and staff members to encourage writing and technology skills in learning and teaching.

Students demonstrate statistical significance

Hamilton students Jenny Carsky and Janelle Engel demonstrated how they determined statistical significance for the Community Survey. Public Information Coordinator Denise Dorn Lindberg introduced the two student statisticians who are in Penny Komatz’ mathematics class. Carsky and Engel computed more than 300 problems as they identified statistically significant differences in survey results.

Positions appointed

In personnel matters, the School Board appointed:

Christine Raabe as the Willow Springs speech and language replacement teacher effective March 14;
Sandra Macpherson as the Hamilton parking lot attendant for 2.5 hours daily, effective March 15; and
Lori Pagel, Hamilton parking lot attendant for 1.5 hours daily, effective March 15.

March 6, 2001

In a move characterized as a difficult, tough decision, Hamilton School Board members voted to eliminate the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) coordinator position. Deborah Briggs was the only board member voting against the position elimination.

The position reduction was spurred by dwindling AODA state and federal grants. From 1993 to 2000, the district received between $68,219 and $79,763 in AODA grants. The district saw only $16,555 in the 2000-2001 school year.

Additionally, parents have come before the School Board advocating for lower class sizes, more instrumental music programs, high school honors courses and gifted and talented services. Accomplishing these initiatives under state revenue caps requires position restructuring.

Services will be reallocated in 2001-2002 including contracting with individuals or hospitals and assigning other staff members AODA related functions. Some functions of the AODA position will not be maintained.

Briggs said while she understood that other people would handle some of the duties, “there would be no one person to tie it all together.

“I am afraid it’s (AODA services) just going to fly out the window,” Briggs said. “I am torn and struggle with this decision because I want lower class sizes, instrumental music and the other things, but I know it’s very costly to get (AODA) services on the outside.”

Acknowledging the difficult choice, board member Jennifer Rude Klett said schools must get back to their main responsibility of academics. She said many parents have asked for a band instructor and want more emphasis on academics.

Hamilton High School teachers Ken Krause and Debra Figueroa spoke prior to the vote and urged the School Board to retain the position for the sake of students who need the AODA services provided by the position.

Three principals presented their schools’ site plans.

Marcy’s plan, as presented by Donald Behrens, Ph.D., includes three tactics involving:

  • integration of the newly aligned curriculum to ensure maximum achievement;
  • developing critical, flexible, strategic, discriminating and enthusiastic readers; and
  • fostering an attitude of responsibility and belonging among students, staff, parents and community.

Hamilton Principal Dave Furrer and teacher Debra Figueroa described Hamilton’s plan that was narrowed to include one tactic that states, “Students will increase their understanding and application of key concepts across the curriculum.”

Presenting her first site plan update to the School Board, Principal Linda Jorgensen outlined Woodside’s plan. The tactics include:

  • prioritizing curricular needs to focus direction and enhance instructional practices;
  • fostering responsible and respectful student behavior; and
  • developing a staff communication process to increase participation in decision-making.

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., described how the district strives to implement curriculum uniformly throughout the district.

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • appointed Deborah Thonnes as a Woodside second grade replacement teacher; and
  • approved the retirement requests of Paul Jushka, Dennis Kapets, Carolyn Manthey, Jon Rinka, Sharon Sohner, Joanne Tula, Joan Vehlow and Mary Wilkening.