February 17, 2003

District property insurance jumps dramatically

A 266-percent increase in the district’s building and property insurance premium prompted the Hamilton School Board to find a new way to finance its exposure to risk. The school district purchases its property insurance through the Wisconsin’s Local Governmental Property Insurance Fund, available for tax-supported property such as government buildings, school and libraries.

The 2003 premium is projected to be $85,547 — an increase of $53,351 over last year. Increasing its deductible to $25,000 with a maximum of two incidents would lower the premium cost to $43,629. The School Board approved budgetting $93,629 for the premium and setting aside the full out-of-pocket expenses for two incidents. The district will have the opportunity to recoup as much as $50,000 if no incidents occur.

School Board Member and chairman of the Buildings & Grounds and Finance committees, Jim Long, said the steep premium increase is a result of insurance companies having greater risk exposure and a loss in financial investments.

School Board Member Gabe Kolesari noted that many insurers took a hit because of Sept. 11 and its impact is being felt.

Business Services Director Bryan Ruud noted that he researched other insurance carriers and was not able to reduce the district premium with another firm. He said the government insurance pool has been beneficial for school districts and other tax-supported entities.

eSchool status presented

Instructional Technology and Assement Coordinator Katherine Little presented a written status report on eSchool, the district’s student database management system. Little’s report included:

  • A network slowdown when multiple users tried to print elementary report cards proved frustrating for teachers in November, but was resolved in January when administrative assistants printed the cards from their local drives;
  • State reports have been set up and will be generated directly from eSchool;
  • Students’ Academic Progress Profiles reside in eSchool allowing staff to view student historical data over time; and
  • Demographic and academic data will be exported to help identify students in need of specific support programs.

Woodside site plan approved

Woodside Elementary School’s site plan was accepted. Principal Linda Jorgensen reported on the progress of the plan’s three tactics that were developed in 1999 and recommended that they be phased out because they are considered operational. She presented three new tactics that met with School Board approval and compliments. The new tactics identify that Woodside will:

  • emphasize ownership and shared responsiblity among students and staff to enhance respect within the school community;

    Potential action plan ideas, according to Jorgensen, could include adult role modeling, enhancing playground and classroom expectations, accepting those who are new and different, training in responsive classroom topics, emphasizing collaboration and shifting from extrinsic to instrinsic motivation.

  • increase the problem-solving abilities of students to strengthen critical thinking skills across the curriculum;

    Ideas include seeking appropriate staff development, targetting math and math journaling, and focusing on writing skills for constructed response.

  • help students communicate effectively with an emphasis on writing skills and strategies applied to a variety of situations.

    Action planning includes emphasizing vocabulary, using common terms to teach writing, adopting the Six Traits writing program and establishing expectations from grade to grade,
    Jorgensen reported the school will form action teams this spring and will develop specific plans that should take three to five years to fully implement.

Students approved for early graduation

Six juniors will be able to graduate after the first semester of their senior year in accordance with district policy. The students who were approved for early graduation are Clanci Bonkoski, Jessica Coon, Stacey Johnson, Nalee Lor, April Mantanona and Melissa Torweihe.

Long appointed TIF representative

School Board President Gerald Schmitz appointed Long as the district’s representative on the Sussex Tax Incremental District #4 Joint Review Board.

Personnel changes approved
In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Lannon second grade teacher Amy McQuin and Templeton music teacher Michael Sturino effective at the end of the school year; and
  • appointed Patricia Gmeinder as Lannon special services teacher aide.

February 4, 2003

State budget uncertainty affects Summer Opportunities class fee

The Hamilton School District’s 2003 Summer Opportunities Program got a preliminary OK from the School Board, but Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and the Legislature may ultimately decide how popular the program will be this summer.

Summer Opportunities Director and Lannon Elementary School Principal Dick Ladd updated the School Board on plans for the 20-day summer school session which is slated to begin June 19 and end July 18 for students taking enrichment classes. The last day of school for students taking promotional and credit courses will be Aug. 1.

Because the program is supported through state funding, the school district charges only $10 per class to cover consumable materials, but school officials are bracing for possible changes that could drive fees to as much as $65 for each class if state aid is lost.

If class fees increase dramatically, summer school enrollment could drop from about 1,300 to 250 students, Hamilton Business Services Director Bryan Ruud predicted. Class fees last summer covered about $27,000 of the $155,000 cost of the program. The rest came from state aid.

The governor’s budget proposal is expected Feb. 18. Depending on changes to the state funding formula, the School Board may adjust the proposed $10 class fee.

District’s third Strategic Plan approved

The district’s third generation Strategic Plan was approved. Strategic Planning has guided district initiatives since 1990 with 5-7-year roadmaps that outline what the district will accomplish.

The newest plan added a vision statement that says: “In the Hamilton School District community we celebrate the joys and rewards of learning. The worth of every person is recognized and we are enriched by the talents and contributions of all. We eagerly embrace challenge with responsiblity, confidence and pride in our abilities.”

Objectives of the new plan include specific verification measures to indicate success.

The four strategies indicate that the district will:

  • foster learning environments that nurture social and emotional development to ensure maximum achievement for each child;
  • ensure that professional development improves student learning;
  • use the results of student assessments and other performance-related data to ensure continuous progress for each child; and
  • enhance communication to promote understanding, support and involvement of families, the community and staff in fulfilling our mission.

Action planning teams will form to address each strategy. Parents, community members and employees will be solicited for their involvement on the teams.

Curriculum process outlined

Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., presented the five-year plan for curriculum revision. The process insures that curriculum is aligned with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards.

Curriculum committees of K-12 teacher representatives review research on their content areas so that effective instructional practices are incorporated in the curriculum. The rotation cycle includes committee review, revisement, administrative review and School Board adoption in the following years:

2002-03 – physical education, world languages, technology education and learning strategies;
2003-04 – music and health;
2004-05 – science, social studies and mathematics;
2005-06 – guidance, reading and writing; and
2006-07 – art, business education and family and consumer education.
Following School Board adoption, the curriculum is implemented in classrooms, assessments are developed, resources identfied and achievement data analyzed.

High school site plan approved

Hamilton High School’s site plan was accepted. Principal David Furrer reported on the progress of the plan’s three interventions They included:

Through content alignment with state standards, students will maxsimize their knowledge and comprehension skills to provide opportunties that focus on postsecondary education.

Furrer reported that the standards were aligned, curriculum redesigned, an honors program developed and implemented, additional Advanced Placement courses offered, PLAN test administered to all sophomores and reading assistance provided to less-skilled readers.

Students will effectively communicate knowledge and concepts resulting from applied writing across the curriclum strategies.

Progress was seen through major writing assignments that included the entire writing process, staff development focused on writing, ACT preparation workshops, “Write to Learn” strategies across the curriculum, addition of a technology-writing resource teacher and reading specialist, communication arts and mathematics seminar for struggling students, addition of transitions counselor for academic support and staff development breakout sessions.

Students will use a variety of learning strategies to exhibit their understanding and application of key curricular concepts.

Furrer pointed to staff development opportunities and teacher portfolios used in the supervision-evaluation process that documents student results.
The first two interventions are considered operational and a part of the culture at Hamilton, but the third is not yet engrained and work must continue, according to Furrer.

Furrer reported that the school will develop a new 5-year school improvement plan next fall.

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board accepted the retirements of Lannon second grade teacher Karen Thompson and Lannon reading specialist Cynthia Kubesc effective at the end of the school year. Becky Bergemann was appointed Maple Avenue special services teacher aide.