December 16, 2002

Middle school charter approved

The Hamilton School Board extended the charter on an experimental middle school that serves at-risk students in the Milwaukee area. The School Board approved a 5-year renewal on the Alternative Middle Charter School, which is run by Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) #1 and provides placement for student from 10 school districts.

The idea for the charter school came more than three years ago from a consortium of school districts. Under state laws, CESA was not able to hold the charter for the school, so the Hamilton School Board officially requested the charter in February, 2000.

Enrollment in the program has ranged from 14 to 18 students each year since it began in the 2000-2001 school year. Classes are conducted in Wauwatosa, with each district paying a per-pupil fee to refer students to the program. In each of the last three years, Hamilton has had one middle school student enrolled in the program. Other school districts that have enrolled students in the program include Brown Deer, Cudahy, Franklin, Greenfield, Hartford, Menomonee Falls, Shorewood, Wauwatosa and West Allis.

The alternative school serves severely disenfranchised at-risk middle students with a program that has a proficiency-based curriculum and includes youth service learning, career exploration, anger management and behavior skill components. Instruction includes small group and tutorial approaches.

The program’s ultimate goal is to transition students back to their home schools where they can be successful. Last year 15 of the 16 students enrolled in the program were reintegrated back to their original school districts.

CESA #1 Alternative Programs Director Heidi Thuli told board members that state and federal grants that were available in the first two years helped get the program off the ground by providing the start-up funds to purchase equipment and get established.

Thuli said CESA staff are concentrating now on having a comprehensive follow-up process in place to ensure that students are supported and can be successful after they leave the program.

Hamilton Superintendent Kathleen M. Cooke, Ph.D., said the charter allows the program to operate in different and creative ways that a regular school is not able to because of mandates and regulations. She said CESA staff offer students a combination of resources so that they are successful in the long run.

“They are successful with the most challenging kids,” Cooke said.

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Hamilton associate kitchen employee Sandra DeKarske;
  • appointed Christine Jakubic as a Hamilton associate kitchen employee.

December 3, 2002

Bonds put out to bid

With successful passage of its referendum last month, the Hamilton School Board took action to borrow $10 million to begin contruction projects. Community members voted Nov. 5 to allow the district to borrow $6.85 million for a Marcy Elementary School addition-renovation project and $6.75 million for a Hamilton High School fine arts-learning center addition that would include an auditorium.

The School Board approved issuing bonds for the projects after consulting with its financial consultant, Robert W. Baird & Company. Superintendent Kathleen Cooke reported that Baird representatives indicated that the district’s strong AA2 Moody’s rating will help taxpayers save more than $500,000 in lower interest payments.

Willow Springs site plan approved

Willow Spring Learning Center’s first principal, John Vitale, gave an overview of the school’s progress and the next steps needed to achieve the plan’s success. In its fourth year of operation, Willow Springs serves 240 children who participate in the district’s optional half-day kindergarten program for 4-year-olds (K4).

A site plan was created by staff and parents last year that identified the following tactics for improvement 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.

With Vitale at the helm since this fall, the first tactic has seen noticeable action. Also, Willow Springs teacher Rita Hutchinson was named an instructional leader, which provided impetus in achieving the second tactic. The third tactic is being addressed with a parent education component at each K4 Parent Group meeting and other communication with the K4 Parent Group.

The site planning team identified the following steps in which Willow Springs will:

  • explore potential for full-time principal position;
  • develop additional administrative functions;
  • establish more opportunities for communication between Willow Springs K4 teachers and K5 teachers in the district’s four elementary schools; and
  • promote and develop resources in the Parent Resource Room.

School course catalogs approved

Hamilton High School Principal David Furrer and Templeton Middle School Principal Patricia Polczynski highlighted proposed changes in their respective schools’ course catalogs. Most of the revisions were refinements and vocabulary changes, according to the principals, however some substantive modifications were made. At the high school, curricular shifts related to Advanced Placement and honors courses created changes. Science curriculum revisions led to changes in the that subject area at the middle school. The School Board approved the recommended course catalogs as presented by the principals.

Special education cooperative plan gets OK

The School Board approved the Waukesha County Special Education Cooperative Contract for 2003-04 as presented by Special Services Supervisor Charlene DeGroot

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • approved salary and benefit compensation increases that totaled 5.04 percent for confidential support staff for 2002-03, and 4.35 percent for administratrators in 2001-02 and 4.6 percent in 2002-03;
  • accepted the resignations of Woodside Special Services teacher aide Carolyn Kuester and Templeton cleaner Terry Helman.