October 15, 2001

School tax rate takes big dip

The Hamilton School Board approved a budget and a tax levy Oct. 15 that will decrease residents’ mil rate by $1.56 ­ a 12.10 percent drop over last year’s rate. A resident whose property is valued at $150,000 will see a $234 decrease in school taxes. The equalized tax rate for school purposes will be $11.36 per $1,000 of property for the 2001-02 school year compared to $12.92 in 2000-01.

“It’s always nice to get good news,” said Finance Committee Chairman and School Board member Jim Long when presenting the budget numbers.

School officials at the Annual Meeting in June had predicted the mil rate would be $12.22. The lower tax rate is attributable to several factors including increased community property value and greater state aid. The district’s equalized valuation – including new growth and greater value of existing property – increased 9.15 percent. State aid jumped 23.38 percent, from $11.87 million in 2000-01 to more than $14.64 million in 2001-02. State aid now comprises 48.24 percent of district revenues, significantly higher than in previous years. While state aid has been as low at 21 percent in the past decade, it has risen steadily in recent year.

School Board members approved a $32,917,619 budget with a local tax levy of $18,729,936. The numbers represent a 6.49 percent increase in the budget and a 4.06 percent levy decrease.

In other financial business, the School Board asked administrators to check into possible refinancing plans. A representative from Robert W. Baird spoke to Finance Committee members about refinancing debt that could save an estimated $20,000 annually from 2002 to 2006 when the debt would be paid off. The total savings would be $97,185. Board members would take action at a future meeting if a new financing package is worked out.

Enrollment increases by 34

Superintendent Kathleen M. Cooke, Ph.D., reported that the district saw a 34-student increase over last year. The official enrollment report that is sent to the state Department of Public Instruction determines future state funding and the formula for state revenue limits.

Federal act requires Internet safeguards

Cooke also reported that the district has complied with the first phase of the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The first step of the act requires that school districts enforce an Internet safety policy. It must include a techology protection measure that safeguards adults and minors from obscene visual depictions or child pornography. While the first phase deals with policies, the CIPA’s second phase requires districts to have an Internet filter. The district is exploring a contract with its Internet provider, WiscNet, to provide a filtering service that would go into effect July 1, 2002.

Youth Option Program requests approved

The requests of nine Hamilton High School students to participate in the Youth Options Program next semester was approved at a cost of $6,500. The program allows students in good academic and disciplinary standing who have completed 10th grade to take technical college or university courses at district expense. The Youth Options Program is available to students throughout the state.

October 2, 2001

For the first time in more than 10 years, the Hamilton School District began the school year without the services of a full-time Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) specialist. Educational Services and Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz updated the School Board on how services have been restructured after the loss of significant federal AODA grants that led to elimination of the position.

The School Board will be asked to approve a contract for outside services at its next meeting, Schultz said. The plan calls for contracting an individual with a guidance-counseling or AODA background to handle limited AODA responsibilities by working in the district one day per week.

Services that will be provided through contracted services or existing staff include the following:

  • Screening referral counseling with students and parents occurs through guidance counselors, AODA-CORE-trained staff and administrators. In addition, parents are directed to community services.
  • Development and implementation of AODA curriculum is supervised by Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman.
  • District staff or the contracted individual will work with various community-based groups such as Hamilton AWARE and Healthy Communities.
  • Marcy Principal Don Behrens will develop and monitor the contract with the district’s employee assistance program provider.
  • Staff development activities will be limited, however, CORE training will be offered in the summer.
  • Because many grants have diminished significantly, grant writing and report preparation will be reduced, but current grants will allow a contracted individual to work with staff in creating summary reports and grant proposals.
  • A one-year Safe and Drug Free Schools grant will target violence prevention and AODA services at the middle school.

School Board member Deborah Briggs said she was concerned that people have someone to contact if they need help.

“I hope we don’t have people frustrated because they don’t know who to go to,” she said.

Schultz indicated that the contracted individual would work out of the AODA office and have a voicemail number where people could leave messages if they had questions. Referral services would come from other staff who would be more available, he said. For example, Athletic-Activities Director Mike Gosz would provide a list of community referral resources to families of students who violate the co-curricular handbook.

Summer school success reported

The 2001 Summer Opportunities program experienced success on many fronts including:

  • lengthening of enrichment courses by four days;
  • lengtheing of credit and promotional courses by 10 days;
  • the addition of nine new courses and 32 additional sections;
  • a 19 percent increase in enrollment;
  • improved academic support with expanded invitational programs; and
  • more high school course offerings.

Summer Opportunities Coordinator Dick Ladd reported those statistics and others detailing the popularity of the program.

Suggestions for next year include producing a separate course catalog for high school students that is widely distributed. He said he will propose having a 4-week, Monday-through-Friday enrichment program next year that would begin June 20 and end July 19. July 4 and 5 would be off.

School Board members complimented Ladd and summer school staff for the success of the program.

Goals approved

Goals for the School Board and superintendent were approved. They are:

  • Develop resources and implement strategies to enhance student achievement.
  • Implement the district’s Strategic Plan.
  • Promote and expand relationships with the community.
  • Promote positive school image.
  • Monitor community growth and identify facility needs.
  • Update School Board policies.

Teachers honored

Hamilton High School mathematics teacher Steve Akin and science teacher Tim Moeller were honored for their development of an integrated algebra-physic course.

Updates given

Reports on the Extended Learning Opportunities Program by coordinator Catherine Tillman and K-12 curriculum alignment and standards implementation by Bauman were accepted.

Staff hired

In personnel matters, the School Board appointed Judith Heft as Lannon aide and Sandra DeKarske as a high school associate kitchen employee.