January 21, 2002

Committee recommends more study

A long-awaited recommendation from the community Facilities Advisory Committee was presented to the Hamilton School Board with the suggestion that the district gather data about the community’s support for necessary projects and monitor the economic environment.

Maple Avenue parent Bob Fourness represented the 25-member committee as he presented its findings and interim recommendations. After more than three months of study that included community growth data, analysis of school funding issues and tours of each school, the committee agreed that it needed more information to make its final recommendation.

During its study, the committee concluded that:

  • Conservative projections from municipalities show the district will gain 750 lots or units through 2006, with the most significant growth in the Woodside Elementary School attendance area.
  • While district enrollment has grown about 1 percent in the last three years, community growth will likely fuel a 2 percent enrollment increase annually ­ or 78 students — for the next five years. Growth will occur first at the elementary level, then middle school and finally at the high school. Approximately 18 additional classrooms will be needed to handle additional students in 2002-03; four classrooms will be available.
  • If sewer and water go in along Silver Spring Drive, additional growth beyond the anticipated increases will occur in the eastern portion of the district.
  • Reducing class sizes by one to three students would require six additional elementary and three middle school classrooms. Staff costs would increase significantly as well. The administration recommended that the School Board monitor class sizes, but keep the current class size policy.
  • The oldest section of Marcy Elementary School has structural and mechanical concerns, is not handicapped accessible and has substandard classrooms and an art room. The infrastructure in other areas needs updating, and the gym, lunchroom and kitchen areas are too small.
  • Hamilton High School lacks adequate fine arts, athletic and library space.
  • Templeton Middle School lacks a facility for all-school assemblies and gym space, and the auxiliary gym floor is warping.
  • Willow Springs Learning Center is land locked and portions of the school are not ADA accessible.
  • Lannon Elementary School’s large group area has become a computer lab.
  • Maple Avenue Elementary School parking is limited.
  • Storage at all facilities is a concern.

The Marcy concerns, more classrooms for elementary and middle school enrollment increases and better high school fine arts, athletic and library facilities topped the committee’s priorities.

Committee members favored creating a new middle school and reconfiguring the grade level rather than building a new elementary school and adding to Templeton.

“Templeton is as big a middle school as we would want to make it,” Fourness said.

The committee will reconvene Feb. 11 to finalize potential referendum recommendations, but asked the School Board to consider analyzing public support for facilities options using an objective survey process.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., said proposals are being sought and polling will likely begin within the next two weeks.

In addition to data indicating community support, changes in state funding and economic matters also will play an important role in determining the committee’s final recommendations. The final report is expected to go to the School Board in March.

Lannon lighting needs fixing

During the Citizen Comments portion of the meeting, Lannon resident Joyce Schieffer asked the board to consider lowering the main outside light at Lannon Elementary School and add lights in the back of the school. She said that since the remodeling project, the light that shines on Parkview Court is too bright. She said nearby residents miss the lights that had been in the back of the school because they provided a safer lighted environment.

Special Education gets OK

The School Board approved the Waukesha County Special Education Cooperative Contract and the Local Special Education Plan as presented by Special Services Supervisor Charlene DeGroot.

Aide approved

In personnel business, the School Board appointed Carmen Lalum as a Woodside teacher aide.

January 8, 2002

Willow Springs’ first site plan presented

In its third year of operation, Willow Springs Learning Center teachers, parents and support staff created its first site plan on Oct. 30, 2001. That plan — including a mission and three tactics to guide school improvement over the next three to five years — was presented to School Board members.

Willow Springs serves 215 children who participate in the district’s optional half-day kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

Instructional Services Supervisor and one of the acting administrators for Willow Springs, Dee Bauman, Ph.D., described the plan. The tactics for improvement were to:

  • establish an administrative role at Willow Springs for smooth operations, program improvement, staff supervision and support, and parent involvement promotion in student learning.
  • use effective communication between Willow Springs kindergarten teachers and other district kindergarten teachers, and the community;
  • develop parent outreach program to meet student and family needs.

Bauman and Educational Services Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz each spend some time each week working at Willow Springs to provide administrative leadership. The center’s site plan calls for greater administrative presence and Willow Springs staff members who attended the board meeting supported that idea.

Additional staff are approved through the district’s annual budgeting process which is presented to the public at the Annual Meeting in June.

Staff development initiatives lead to results

A push for staff development linked to results and strategic planning has been under foot in the district for nearly two years. Schultz reported on training and activities at each school and at the district level. Many of them are directly related to individual site plans, he said.

Staff have been involved with writing training, grammar workshops, mathematics projects, technology break out sessions, PLAN and ACT test alignment workshops, data analysis training, instructional strategies and technology discussion, reading groups, differentiation and articulation education, establishing a professional learning community and developing music curriculum and large motor activities for 4K students.

Student data moves to eSchool

Progress of eSchool, the district’s new student management system, has had its ups and downs. Instructional Technology Coordinator Katie Little provided an update of the tasks accomplished as the district rolls over student data from a DOS-based system to one that is Windows-based.

About half of the district’s elementary school teachers used a computerized report card with mixed feedback from those using the new system. While some found the digital report card system a benefit once they learned it, the greatest frustration stemmed from a major software glitch that lost grades after teachers entered them. For some, it happened more than once, Little said, but noted that the problem was fixed.

Middle and high school teachers will be trained in taking attendance and grade entry at the beginning of second semester. Elementary school administrative assistants were trained to use eSchool in the first semester, and those at the secondary level will begin training second semester.

Little said custodial staff will be trained to use e-mail and Microsoft’s WORD program.

Personnel news

In personnel business, the School Board approved the appointment of Jessica Spuhler as a Hamilton High School physical education teacher for the second semester.