Hamilton School Board approves Professional Teaching Staff Handbook

The start of school each fall brings new opportunities and circumstances for school staff members. This year professional teaching staff in the Hamilton School District, like most districts in Wisconsin, will have a newly-created employee handbook that will define employment parameters.

The Hamilton School Board approved the “Professional Teaching Staff Handbook” Aug. 23 at a special meeting which will replace collective bargaining agreements that expired June 30 and previously delineated many responsibilities, rules and procedures.

District administrators drafted the handbook during the summer and solicited feedback from teachers who serve as instructional leaders throughout the district prior to School Board approval.

Goals in establishing the handbook were to serve the interests of the district and its employees, said Superintendent Kathleen M. Cooke, Ph.D. As they developed recommendations for the School Board, administrators weighed several considerations, including the district’s long-term financial health, ability to attract and retain high quality staff, and continuation of high quality of programs that parents and community members have come to expect.

The most significant changes for employees deal with retirement contributions, the district’s healthcare plan, retirement healthcare benefits, paid time off and implementation of a dress code.

  • Retirement contributions – In line with new legislative requirements, school employees will pay 50 percent of their Wisconsin Retirement System contributions, which amounts to 5.8 percent of their annual salary.
  • Health insurance plan modifications – As a self-insured organization that experiences costs as much as 70 percent below the comparable for state employees (based on most recent comparisons available), the district chose to make additional plan modifications that encourage wise consumer use of healthcare services to provide even greater cost savings. Deductibles will increase between $150 and $600, a $25 office co-pay was added and employee-paid prescription drug payments increased. The changes are expected to save the district more than $379,000.
  • Retirement healthcare benefit – The district will eliminate its early retirement benefit and convert to a defined annual contribution in a Healthcare Retirement Agreement (HRA) that will do away with a $36.6 million liability over the next seven years – as much as 90 percent of it in the first year alone.
  • Paid time off – Paid time off will be reduced, but there will be more flexibility in how it can be used. The change is expected to increase student contact time and reduce substitute costs. Changes reward good attendance by annually allocating unused sick, emergency  and personal days to a HRA at a value equal to the daily substitute rate once an employee reaches the new accrual cap of 30 days.
  • Dress code – To promote a greater sense of respect that the district believes professional educators deserve, staff are expected to dress in no less than business casual attire. Some opportunities will exist on school spirit days, special events and as a monthly charity fundraiser for staff to wear jeans and school-affiliated tops.

Certified teaching staff members will learn more about the employee handbook next week at meetings with administrators.

August 23, 2011

The start of school each fall brings new opportunities and circumstances for school staff members. This year professional teaching staff in the Hamilton School District, like most districts in Wisconsin, will have a newly-created employee handbook that will define employment parameters.

The Hamilton School Board approved the “Professional Teaching Staff Handbook” Aug. 23 at a special meeting which will replace collective bargaining agreements that expired June 30 and previously delineated many responsibilities, rules and procedures.

District administrators drafted the handbook during the summer and solicited feedback from teachers who serve as instructional leaders throughout the district prior to School Board approval.

Goals in establishing the handbook were to serve the interests of the district and its employees, said Superintendent Kathleen M. Cooke, Ph.D. As they developed recommendations for the School Board, administrators weighed several considerations, including the district’s long-term financial health, ability to attract and retain high quality staff, and continuation of high quality of programs that parents and community members have come to expect.

The most significant changes for employees deal with retirement contributions, the district’s healthcare plan, retirement healthcare benefits, paid time off and implementation of a dress code.

  • Retirement contributions – In line with new legislative requirements, school employees will pay 50 percent of their Wisconsin Retirement System contributions, which amounts to 5.8 percent of their annual salary.
  • Health insurance plan modifications – As a self-insured organization that experiences costs as much as 70 percent below the comparable for state employees (based on most recent comparisons available), the district chose to make additional plan modifications that encourage wise consumer use of healthcare services to provide even greater cost savings. Deductibles will increase between $150 and $600, a $25 office co-pay was added and employee-paid prescription drug payments increased. The changes are expected to save the district more than $379,000.
  • Retirement healthcare benefit – The district will eliminate its early retirement benefit and convert to a defined annual contribution in a Healthcare Retirement Agreement (HRA) that will do away with a $36.6 million liability over the next seven years – as much as 90 percent of it in the first year alone.
  • Paid time off – Paid time off will be reduced, but there will be more flexibility in how it can be used. The change is expected to increase student contact time and reduce substitute costs. Changes reward good attendance by annually allocating unused sick, emergency  and personal days to a HRA at a value equal to the daily substitute rate once an employee reaches the new accrual cap of 30 days.
  • Dress code – To promote a greater sense of respect that the district believes professional educators deserve, staff are expected to dress in no less than business casual attire. Some opportunities will exist on school spirit days, special events and as a monthly charity fundraiser for staff to wear jeans and school-affiliated tops.

Certified teaching staff members will learn more about the employee handbook next week at meetings with administrators.

In other personnel business, School Board members approved a -2.13 percent total aggregate compensation package for district administration and confidential support staff members. The package factors in a salary adjustment, employee contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System, increase in co-pay and deductible health insurance, elimination of early retirement benefit and establishment of a Health Retirement Account.

Residents approve district levy

Eighteen residents at the Hamilton School District Annual Meeting Aug. 15 approved a $30 million tax levy that will support a $48.16 million budget for the 2011-12 school year. Local property owners can expect a $10.18 mil rate when their tax bills arrive in December which is the same as last year. Property values in the district are projected to drop one percent.

 The budget is 4.03 percent lower than last year and includes a 10.18 percent loss of state aid which is offset by $1.5 million in employee contributions to retirement and $1.7 million in reductions throughout the district. The budget was developed in alignment with state-imposed revenue caps that reduced spending by $590 per pupil. The budget includes expenses associated with an expected 25-student enrollment increase.

 Most of the reductions were accomplished through restructuring of positions, attrition of retiring employees, reallocation of staff due to enrollment fluctuation and greater efficiencies. The district was able to reduce the equivalency of 6.5 full-time positions at a total cost savings of more than $635,000. In addition, another $1.1 million will be shaved by reducing expenses in payroll, health-drug-dental, repair and capital items, extra pay, substitutes, overtime and secondary level building budgets.

 In addition to approving the levy, citizens approved four other resolutions that keeps School Board salaries at $4,000 a year, allows the district to sell or dispose of property no longer needed for school purposes, approves leasing of property for farming purposes and reimburses School Board expenses when incurred in the performance of their duties.

Personnel issues decided at regular meeting

Following the Annual Meeting, a regular School Board meeting was held. In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of communication arts teacher Rachel Hermann, Templeton paraprofessional Annette Herbert and Templeton cleaner Anthony Minter, Jr.;
  • appointed Jessica Gunderson as Templeton grade 8 replacement teacher, Kathy Rose as Hamilton science teacher, Grace Kassander as Woodside physical education teacher, Carla Whitehead as Lannon grade 1 replacement teacher, Marianne Baker as Lannon grade 4 teacher, Courtney Benz as Woodside grade 5 replacement teacher, Sherry Bublitz as Hamilton library paraprofessional, Chelsea Cerwin as Templeton Title I paraprofessional, Donna Goetsch as Hamilton  guidance paraprofessional – clerical, Lynn Panek-Heeren as Marcy English as a Second Language, Shane Bunek as Hamilton special education replacement teacher, Leah Sapa as Lannon art teacher and Katherine Leitzke as Templeton German teacher;
  • reviewed a staff plan for the 2011-12 school year which projects that the number of full-time teaching positions will be reduced from 310.05 to 306.05 based on enrollment shifts, special schedule adjustments, special services enrollment shift and transition counselor reduction;
  • learned that staff absences due to illness, emergency leave and family-medical leave dropped in nearly every employee group from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

Hamilton schools plan for start of classes

Hamilton School District students will begin classes Sept. 1. The district has compiled information to assist parents and students in preparation for the big day.

Registration — People who are new to the district may register their children at the school they will attend. Call the individual schools to learn their office hours. School phone numbers are:

            • Willow Springs Learning Center (4-year-old kindergarten), (262) 255-6190;

            • Lannon Elementary, (262) 255-6106;

            • Maple Avenue Elementary, (262) 246-4220;

            • Marcy Elementary, (262) 781-8283;

            • Woodside Elementary, (262) 820-1530;

            • Templeton Middle, (262) 246-6477; and

            • Hamilton High, (262) 246-6471.

If you are unsure of your school attendance area, call the district’s Public Information Office at (262) 246-1973 x1100.

Kindergarten — The district offers kindergarten programs for students who are four and five years old. The program for 4-year-olds is at Willow Spring Learning Center, and the program for 5-year-olds is at neighborhood elementary schools.

To be eligible for the optional 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) program, a child must be four years old by Sept. 1. The program runs a half day — an 8:45 – 11:15 a.m. morning session and 12:45 – 3:15 p.m. afternoon session. Willow Springs Learning Center will have a brief 4K bus orientation Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m. for morning kindergartners and at 6:15 p.m. for afternoon kindergartners to familiarize them with riding the bus. School buses will pick up 4K students and parents at their elementary school (Lannon, Maple Avenue, Marcy or Woodside) and travel to Willow Springs. Classes at Willow Springs begin Sept. 7. The school will hold Jump Start to 4K family conferences Sept. 1, 2 and 6 with students and parents.

Each elementary school offers a kindergarten program for children who turn five years old by Sept. 1. Most 5-year-olds participate in the full-day program that follows the same schedule as elementary grade school students. Some parents choose to enroll their 5-year-old in kindergarten for only the morning half of the school day.

Transportation — The bus company sends yellow postcards notifying bus riders of their routes. Postcards will be mailed the week of Aug. 22.

Breaks and last school day — Students will not have classes: Labor Day – Sept. 5; break – Oct. 28; Parent-teacher conferences – Nov. 23; Thanksgiving break – Nov. 24-25; winter break – Dec. 23-30; staff in-services – Jan. 20, Feb. 3 and March 16; spring break – April 6-13; break – May 25; and Memorial Day – May 28. Their last day of school is June 7.

School hours — Elementary school students in grades 1-5 and full-day kindergarten begin school at 8:35 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m.; Templeton hours are 7:25 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.; and the high school runs from 7:20 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

Immunization — Wisconsin law requires parents to provide updated records on their children’s immunizations including DTP, MMR and polio. The Hepatitis B (Hep B) and varicella vaccines are required for all students pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Two different vaccine requirements were added in recent years to the Wisconsin Student Immunization law. The changes began in 2008-09 and will be phased in for all students over the next several years. For the 2011-12 school year, students entering grades 6, 9 and 12 are required to have one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertusis (Tdap) vaccine. Students entering 5-year-old kindergarten and grades 6 and 12 are required to have two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

School lunch program — Hamilton food service staff members are committed to producing quality meals that are nutritious and appealing to children. Lunches consist of five food items — meat, bread, two or more servings of fruit or vegetables, and milk. To reduce waste, children are offered an entire lunch but may refuse one or two items. The price for lunch remains the same whether a child takes the entire lunch or refuses an item.

Lunch menus will be listed in school newsletters, local newspapers and on the district website. Parents are asked to go over the lunch menu with their children to help them decide what to eat each day. Children should be encouraged to take at least a portion of an unfamiliar or unpopular food item.

Lunch prices for 2011-12 are: $2.25 for elementary students; $2.65 – middle school and high school students; $3.40 – adults; and 30 cents for milk.

Fees

            The following are fees for the 2011-12 school year:

            Pre-kindergarten and half-day kindergarten — $19*;

            Elementary grades, full-day kindergarten and ungraded — $35*;

            Middle school — $45*;

            High school — $60*;

            High school padlock — $5;

            Drivers’ education behind-the-wheel training and theory-simulation — $175 each;

            Templeton sports — $20 per sport ($80 family maximum);

            Hamilton sports — $30 per sport ($120 maximum);

            Hamilton family athletic-activities pass – $60;

            Templeton extra- and co-curriculars — $10 and $20;

            Hamilton extra- and co-curriculars — $15 and $30;

            Hamilton transcript – $5

            Retake ID (during the school year) — $3;

            Technology fee — $20 per student ($40 family maximum); and

            Parking — $100.

*Maximum of $150 per family for these student fees.

Parents may pay all their children’s school and lunch fees through the E-Funds for Schools website and LunchBox. Links to E-Funds for School and LunchBox are on the district website.

District website — The district website is at www.hamilton.k12.wi.us and is updated often with supply lists, newsletters, calendar, lunch menus, news releases and other information.

For more information about the Hamilton School District, contact the individual schools or the district’s Public Information Office at (262) 246-1973 x1100.

Families can apply for free, reduced lunches

The Hamilton School District announced its policy for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, or milk served under the Special Milk Program. Each school office and the district office have copies of the policy for those who are interested.

Household size and income criteria determine eligibility. Children from families whose annual income is at or below the established levels are eligible for free and reduced price meals or free milk if a split-session student does not have access to the school lunch or breakfast service.

Annual income maximum for free lunch or milk

Household size — income maximum

1 — $14,157

2 — $19,123

3 — $24,089

4 — $29,055

5 — $34,021

6 — $38,987

7 — $43,953

8 — $48,919

For each additional household member, add $4,966.

 

Annual income range for reduced lunch or milk

Household size — income range

1 — $14,157.01 and $20,147

2 — $19,123.01 and $27,214

3 — $24,089.01 and $34,281

4 — $29,055.01 and $41,348

5 — $34,021.01 and $48,415

6 — $38,987.01 and $55,482

7 — $43,953.01 and $62,549

8 — $48,919.01 and $69,616

For each additional household member, add $4,966 to $7,067 to range.

 

Monthly income maximum for free lunch or milk

Household size — income maximum

1 — $1,180

2 — $1,594

3 — $2,008

4 — $2,422

5 — $2,836

6 — $3,249

7 — $3,663

8 — $4,077

For each additional household member, add $414.

 

Monthly income range for reduced lunch or milk

Household size — income range

1 — $1,180.01 and $1,679

2 — $1,594.01 and $2,268

3 — $2,008.01 and $2,857

4 — $2,422.01 and $3,446

5 — $2,836.01 and $4,035

6 — $3,249.01 and $4,624

7 — $3,663.01 and $5,213

8 — $4,077.01 and $5,802

For each additional household member, add $414 to $589 to range.

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a notice to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced price meals or free milk, households must fill out the application and return it to the school. Additional copies are available in the principal’s office in each school. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size changes and the household income falls at or below the levels shown above, the family should contact the school. Such changes may make households eligible for reduced price meals or free meals or milk, and they may reapply at that time.

In certain cases, foster children are also eligible for these benefits. If a household has foster children and wishes to apply for free or reduced price meals, the household should complete an application for a family of one or contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household on the application is confidential. Under this program, no child will be discriminated against because of race, color, sex, national origin, age or disability.

For more information, contact Judy Pinter, Hamilton School District food service manager, at (262) 246-1973 x1142.

Hamilton offers drivers’ education

Registration for Hamilton High School fall drivers’ education – including theory, simulation and behind-the-wheel – begins Aug. 10. Completed forms with fees will be accepted at the high school office during school hours or by mail. Students who will be 16 years old by May 31, 2012 are eligible to enroll in all three phases of the program.

The theory phase begins on Sept. 6 and includes 15 two-hour classes from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The simulation, which starts the week of Oct. 18, is six two-hour classes. Behind-the-wheel includes six two-hour lessons and is held from 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday or Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 10 a.m. to noon.

Fees are $350 for the full program.

If you have questions, please contact Hamilton Drivers’ Education Coordinator Jackie Rottler at rottja@hamilton.k12.wi.us.

Hamilton High School is located at W220 N6151 Town Line Road.