April 15, 2002

Residents approve land purchase at Special Annual Meeting

Hamilton residents voted 34-10 to allow the School Board to purchase land known as the Weinhandl farm. Voters at a Special Annual Meeting passed a resolution authorizing the district to purchase the land in the northwestern portion of the district on Plainview Road between Hillside Road and Highway 164.

Voters gave district officials the OK to purchase up to 40 acres at a cost of $19,800 per acre, not to exceed $792,000. The land will be used for future school needs. As development occurs in the community, the school district works proactively to ensure that land is available for future building needs. Business Director Bryan Ruud said that the district is also looking at a future land purchase in another area of the district.

The district has been setting aside money for land purchase for several years, and the purchase will not increase the tax rate. State law requires voter approval at a Special Annual Meeting.

Budget committee makes recommendations

After reviewing the state budget proposals and the work of the Community Facilities Advisory Committee, the six-member Community Budget Advisory Committee made several recommendations to the School Board. They included:

  • minimize student impact when making budget reductions;
  • maintain facilities because deferred maintenance will create greater future expense; and
  • go to referendum to restore lost funding so that recent district initiatives to reduce class size, enhance Advanced Placement courses and increase student achievement are not lost. Committee members also indicated support for the work of the Community Facilities Advisory Committee.

Internet filter approved

An Internet filtering package provided by Wiscnet was chosen to comply with new regulations for school technology. The Children’s Internet Protection Act requires schools to certify that they are enforcing a policy of Internet safety and have technology protection in place. Computer users must be protected again obscene visual depictions, child pornography and material harmful to minors. The school district must also be able to monitor online activities.

The district considered three packages and chose Wiscnet’s low bid of $8,750 for the first year and $7,750 thereafter for the purchase of the X-Stop package. The word filter program, already used in almost 200 school districts, blocks categories such as “chat” and “pornography.”

Preliminary staffing plan discussed

The number of full-time equivalency (FTE) teaching positions in 2002-03 will drop by 1.5 if student projections are accurate. Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz reported that preliminary data show the high school will have one less position for a total of 76.78 FTEs, the middle school will be down one-half of a position at 68.59 FTEs, and the number of elementary school teachers will remain the same as the current year with 136.38 FTEs. Schultz recommended that the School Board include two contigency positions in the staffing plan for unanticipated enrollments. He told board members he will continue to meet regulary with principals to monitor enrollment so that a more detailed plan can be presented at the next meeting. At this point, specific staff assignments have not been made.

Summer curriculum work, professional development offerings approved

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., presented information about the projects and activities that will keep many school district staff members busy throughout the summer. She reported that the summer program will focus on:

  • K-12 curriculum revision in art, technology education and world languages;
  • information & technology curriculum development;
  • high school honors and middle school enrichment course development; and
  • professional development opportunities.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board approved the resignations of Lannon Elementary School teacher Angela Kattman at the end of the 2001-02 school year.

April 9, 2002

Board chooses lower cost Marcy option

Hamilton School Board members opted for the more cost-efficient plan as they provided input to the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) concerning Marcy Elementary School. Marcy’s oldest section is in need of improvements, and FAC members asked the School Board to indicate their preference for a demolition and reconstruction project or one that involved renovation.

Business Director Bryan Ruud compared the two options at the March 18 meeting that showed renovation of the old section into two classrooms and creating an additional classroom would cost $854,130 compared to $737,000 to raze the old section and replace it with a new addition. Another option included renovating the old section at a cost of $737,130 without building additional space, but that option did not have support because it would reduce the number of classrooms at Marcy, a school in need of more space for anticipated enrollment increases.

Board members indicated in their motion that they would like to see the old Marcy building commemorated in the new building project. FAC members will reconvene in April to discuss final recommendations for a referendum. The committee began meeting last fall to study projected enrollment growth and facilities needs throughout the district.

Community members speak out

Five Maple Avenue Elementary School parents and one student asked board members to consider adding another section to next year’s fifth grade class which is expected to have 86 students. They fear that with only three sections, class size will be too large to effectively teach students. Fourth-grader Dana Devine read a letter from fellow fourth-graders asking that another section be considered for the grade. Human Resources Director Dean Schultz will present a staffing plan for 2002-03 at the next School Board meeting.

K-8 science text adopted

New elementary and middle school science materials were adopted. In grades 2-6, the Houghton Mifflin Science Program: Discovery Works Program and Einstein project kits were adopted. The Prentice Hall Science Program: Science Explorer will be used in grades 7 and 8.

First draft of budget presented

Business Services Director Bryan Ruud presented the first draft of the $34.7 million budge that includes a 5 percent increase in expenses and 15.38 percent increase in the mil rate. The proposed mil rate is expected to go from $11.36 to $13.10 per $1,000 of property value. The budget was built using conservative assumptions that the district will increase enrollment by 25 students, property value will increase by 5 percent, and there will be no additional state aid.

Ruud cautioned that the mil rate increase was based on using conservative numbers and may not be as high. The budget included no new staff positions and no additional capital improvement spending over last year’s budget. The estimates for state aid are based on Governor Scott McCallum’s state budget proposal. If other state proposals actually are approved, the district could face making further cuts.

The School Board will approve a final budget in May to present to citizens at the June 17 Annual Meeting.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board approved the resignations of Maple Avenue fifth grade teacher Linda Brandenburg effective March 19 and Hamilton business education teacher Timothy Brandt at the end of the 2001-02 school year. Woodside fifth grade teacher Kim Weber was granted a leave of absence for the 2002-03 school year.