Woodside contributes baskets for families in need

Woodside Elementary School families and staff members are showing compassion for others once again this Thanksgiving season by donating turkey baskets to families in need in Milwaukee’s Notre Dame Middle School community.

Just as they did last year, Woodside students were asked to donate money they earned by doing chores at home. With more than $1,800 collected, parent volunteers shopped for groceries to build the baskets. Items included a frozen turkey, bag of stuffing, jar of gravy, white and sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables, bread, canned cranberries, a fresh pie, beverages, appetizers such as crackers and nuts, along with an aluminum roasting pan. All of the items were put into a large sturdy laundry basket and delivered to families.

“This has been an extremely rewarding service project for all the students,” said Rayelle Simonsen, a Woodside teacher who helped organize the collection. “It’s amazing how just doing a few chores around the house is now going to feed 26 families.”

Notre Dame is a successful middle school in Milwaukee that serves Hispanic girls in grades 5-8. The school’s academic outcomes includes a 98 percent high school graduation rate with 82 percent of its students continuing on to college. Some 94 percent of the families live at or below poverty level and the past few years have been especially difficult because the recession has affected many jobs .

Remaining money after the Thanksgiving meals were purchased was donated to the Sussex Food Pantry.



New athletic center finish line for Charger Challenge


The first public event to use the newly constructed Hamilton Athletic Center will be Dec. 6 at the Hamilton Education Foundation’s Charger Challenge: Santa Edition. The fun run-walk, which starts at 9 a.m. in front of Hamilton High School, finishes in the new athletic center. It is just one more reason to sign up for Charger Challenge: Santa Edition.

Promising to be an outstanding community fitness event, this magical 5K run will feature theme stations including Candy Cane Lane, Mistletoe Mile and the Gingerbread House on the grounds at Hamilton High School. Following the run, participants will get a chance to see the new Hamilton Athletic Center, which will be finished just in time for the community event.

Charger Challenge: Santa Edition is open to all athletic abilities, and families are welcome. Please go to to register. Fees are $25 for children ages 4-12 years and $35 for 13 and older. All paid participants will receive a long sleeve Dri-FIT T-shirt.

Questions about donating, volunteering or supporting the event? Email event organizers at

Charger Challenge: Santa Edition is one of only two major HEF fundraisers this year. Established in 1991 by friends of the Hamilton school community, the Foundation and its supporters generate funding and other resources to enhance, extend and enrich the educational opportunities of Hamilton School District students. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and operates independently from the Hamilton School Board.

HEF takes great pride in providing Hamilton students and educators with tools needed in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. It has provided funding for SMART boards, digital cameras, e-readers and many educational programs and workshops. To learn more about how HEF has made a difference in the Hamilton School District, visit the HEF on the web at

Hamilton named to fifth AP Honor Roll

The Hamilton School District is one of just 547 districts across the U.S. and Canada named to the 5th annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll by the College Board. Districts on the list are honored for increasing access to AP course work while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

Hamilton Principal Candis Mongan credited staff members and students for the school’s success.

“This recognition demonstrates that students continue to maintain or improve in areas that are essential for their success after high school,” Mongan said. “It also shows the ability of teachers to prioritize instruction so that students experience an academically challenging educational program.”

Inclusion on the fifth annual AP Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2012 to 2014, in which districts must:

  • increase AP participation and access by at least four percent in large districts, six percent in medium districts and 11 percent in small districts;
  • increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic and American Indian students; and
  • improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2014 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2012, unless the district has already attained a performance level in which more than 70 percent of the AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

“The devoted teachers and administrators in this district are delivering an undeniable benefit to their students: opportunity. When coupled with a student’s hard work, such opportunities can have myriad outcomes,” said College Board Senior Vice President of AP and Instruction Trevor Packer. “We applaud your conviction that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”

The College Board’s AP program enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Through more than 30 college-level courses, each culminating in a rigorous exam, AP provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both at U.S. four-year colleges and universities.

Community supports Hamilton NHS blood drive

The Hamilton High School National Honor Society (NHS) sponsored its annual blood drive Nov. 7. The drive brought in more than 100 donors who donated enough blood to save the lives of 250 people in local hospitals. Forty of the 100 were first-time donors. Blood donations from the community together with participating students contributed to the success of the event.



November 17, 2014

Board hears about MAP testing growth targets

School Board members received a primer about how growth targets are established and used as part of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing, which the district has been using since 2004. Instructional Services Supervisor Katherine Little, Ph.D., and Templeton Principal Paul Mielke, Ph.D., explained how MAP provides data used to develop targeted instructional strategies.

Depending on grade level, students in grades 1-10 take the computerized adaptive MAP assessments in reading, mathematics and language usage two to three times a year. Growth goals are set based on grade, initial achievement and how many weeks of instruction have been given. Because many students throughout the nation are involved in norming the data, Northwest Evaluation Association – the organization which produces MAP tests – is able to calculate typical growth of similar students.

A class report allows teachers to view deviation of student performance, drill down content strands and individual skill indicators, and plan for differentiated instruction. At the end of each testing season, teachers receive a report regarding individual student progress and class trends.

Steiner presents first Willow Springs site plan report

In her first presentation to the Hamilton School Board, Willow Springs Learning Center Principal Erin Steiner reported on the school’s site planning process. A team of Willow Springs’ staff members met with Human Resources and Organizational Development Director John Roubik on Aug. 13 to review the site plan.

Accomplishments of site plans in the past two years included investigation of new curricula, creation of meaningful student activities that foster social-emotional development, utilization of iPad technology and analysis of PALS and other pre-academic data to influence teaching decisions. They analyzed data and determined that some new ways to gather and monitor social-emotional and pre-academic data was needed.

In the coming year, the school will focus on tactics that will lead to development of social-emotional skills, understanding of students’ individual roles as learners and pre-academic literacy skills. Staff members will promote this through social, emotional and communication assemblies, teaching practices that promote student ownership of learning, evaluation and modification of social-emotional data collection, implementation of benchmark literacy, collection of data and implementation of iPad technology for literacy skill development.

Co-curricular plan presented

Hamilton Athletic and Activities Director Michael Gosz provided his annual Co-curricular Activities Report. Among the highlights of the 2013-14 school year were:

  • The district sponsored 41 student activities and 23 sports with a total of 54 teams.
  • A total of 86 coaches, 65 activity advisors were hired.
  • Gate receipts from sports totaled $48,518 and $33,000 was made from family passes.
  • An all-time high of 3,131 students participated (a duplicated count in which students are counted for each program in which they participate).
  • Average cost per participant was $139.88, down from $142.39 in 2012-13 and $150.51 in 2011-12.
  • Facility improvements included construction of Hamilton Athletic Facility and with help of a local donor, development of softball, baseball and youth fields on school ground.

Catch-up provision in 403b plan eliminated

The School Board authorized a change in the 403b plan document which eliminates the 15-year catch up provision, which legal counsel and 403b providers recommended to remove as the number of IRS violations related to the provision has been problematic in other districts. Previously only employees with 15 or more years of service could make elective deferrals above the amount permitted. No one in the district is taking advantage of the provision.

School Board election calendar released

The schedule for the 2015 spring election was released. Terms of School Board members Dawn Van Aacken, who holds the Lisbon seat, Deborah Briggs, Butler seat, and Brian Schneider, Menomonee Falls seat, are up. All three have indicated they plan to run again.
The election schedule includes:
• Jan. 6 – deadline for candidacy declaration and nominations papers;
• Feb. 17 – primary election if needed;
• April 7 – spring election; and
• April 27 – taking of office.

E4E plan on hold until state determines statute requirements

Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator and Hamilton High School Associate Principal Pete Ferge reported on the district’s participation in the Education for Employment (E4E) consortium, comprised of 13 southeastern school districts. The consortium, which coordinates a plan to provide career- and college-readiness components, is on hold until the state Department of Public Instruction determines how to meet the requirements of a new state statute that requires all eighth-graders to have an Academic and Career Plan by 2017.
E4E coordination comes with the CESA #1 Carl Perkins Consortium, which the board approved for the 2015-16 school year.

Personnel business

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • Accepted the resignation of Hamilton associate kitchen employee Renee Newman; and
  • Appointed Jennifer Bachhuber as Willow Springs special services paraprofessional and Tarrah Preusser as Templeton instructional and supervision paraprofessional.

Hamilton announces October students of the month

Hamilton High School students representing 11 curriculum areas were selected as students of the month for October. They are:

  • Adam Rosman, applied engineering and technology;
  • Maria Christianson, art;
  • Nicholas Hoffman, business education;
  • Alex Marx, communication arts;
  • Courtney Zabinski, family and consumer sciences;
  • Victoria Johnstone, fitness education;
  • Isabella Schultz and Eliana Selin, mathematics;
  • Brandon Fedie, music;
  • Emalie King, science;
  • Keeley Hayden, social studies; and
  • Dominic Pino, world languages.

Students received a certificate and a pin for their accomplishment.



School tax rate drops

Hamilton School District tax rates since 1992


The Hamilton School Board certified a tax levy at its Oct. 20 meeting that will reduce the tax rate by 44 cents per $1,000 of property value from last year. School Board members approved a $55.03 million budget that includes a mil rate of $9.76 per $1,000 of property. For each $100,000 of property citizens own, they will pay $976 in property taxes to support the school district.

The net tax levy, the portion of the budget paid by local taxpayers, increased 1.3 percent going from $29.08 million to $29.46 million in the past year. The total budget increased 3.83 percent – due in part to the cost of educating 32 more students and inclusion of Hamilton Athletic Center capital project expenses. Construction costs of the new athletic facility at Hamilton High School came from the district’s operating budget and fund balance from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years and did not have an impact on the levy. The lower-than-expected mil rate is attributable to community growth and higher property values that spread school costs over more and higher-valued properties.

To provide budget figures for June’s Annual Meeting, district officials estimated that property tax values would grow .61 percent, state aid would increase .33 percent and the mill rate would be $10.28 per $1,000 of property. Instead, property values increased 5.78 percent in the past year, state aid increased by 1.69 percent and the mill rate dropped to $9.76 instead of rising.

Each October, the School Board must adopt the budget, certify the tax levy and establish the tax rate after the Department of Revenue determines property values in the district. Tax bills are sent to property owners in December.

Hamilton student performs in State Honors Band

Hamilton High School student Chloe Simchick performed in the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) State Honors Band Oct. 30 at a concert held in the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison.

Nearly 450 students were chosen to participate from more than 1,600 auditions throughout the state. The full concert will be shown Dec. 15 and Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. on Milwaukee Public Television channels 10 and 36, respectively.

The Wisconsin State Honors Project offers talented youth the opportunity to rehearse and perform in Honors Band, Orchestra, Choir and Jazz Ensemble.



November 4, 2014

AODA measures in place to help families

Student Assistance Program and AODA Coordinator Kristin Hasbrook presented an annual report to School Board members about efforts to keep students from getting involved in alcohol and other drugs. Activities in the past year included providing initial screening and AODA referral services, helping families find appropriate community services and conducting activities in the schools.

Middle and high school activities include individual student support, training of peer trainers for health presentations, guidance lessons about drugs and alcohol, and presentations to students about depression, harassment, bullying and internet safety. Districtwide activities include coordination of Hamilton Connects, a program that features presentations for parents throughout the year. Other support for parents includes conducting Love and Logic classes and individual education, counseling or referral services.

In 2014-15, Hasbrook will focus on continuation of current services and expansion of training to provide effective student crisis intervention and trauma counseling.

High school sees achievement gains

Hamilton High School has one goal that indicates “Students will increase engagement across the disciplines to reach higher levels of achievement, develop readiness to compete in a global society and be prepared for college and career.”  Tactics that will measure progress state that students will strengthen their:

  • autonomy, critical thinking and inquiry skills necessary for postsecondary pursuits; and
  • learning by using disciplinary literacy strategies to comprehend, analyze and evaluate text.

Principal Candis Mongan noted that data reflect growth and accomplishments including:

  • Students in all ethnic categories performed better on the PLAN test than in any other year.
  • The class of 2014 earned a 24.1 composite score on the ACT — matching the highest score in Hamilton’s history.
  • The high school was awarded the Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition Award in 2013-14 for all schools that fall in the top accountability index category on the WKCE state standardized test and earned the highest rating of significantly exceeds expectations again in 2014-15.
  • The school achieved an all-time high score of 1.53 on the Advanced Placement Challenge Index, which is defined as the number of AP exams taken divided by the number of graduates. Successful attainment of the Challenge Index requires a score of 1.0, which the school has exceeded since 2010.
  • The AdvancED Accreditation Commission accepted and approved Hamilton for accreditation based on evidence of the school’s continuous improvement.

Lannon site plan approved

Lannon Elementary School Principal Dick Ladd presented the school’s site plan update. New last year was the collaboration of the district’s four elementary schools around a common district literacy goal which stated, “Using the 2013 MAP scores, each elementary school will increase the percentage of students who meet or exceed their projected growth targets by 5 percent.” Lannon used this shared tactic and added another. The second tactic states, “Students will develop positive social skills and pride in their school.”

Lannon attained the 5 percent increase in MAP scores as indicated in last year’s site plan, and its goal for the coming year, like other elementary schools, is to maintain the progress and increase another 3 percent. Ladd said the school will use some of the same strategies as in the past but will bump it up by looking more closely at MAP data to determine what students need to learn.

Lannon was at or near the top of scores among Waukesha County elementary schools, and it earned the highest rating of significantly exceeds expectation on the state report card.

Personnel actions

In personnel matters, the School Board appointed Jennifer Zarwell as a Templeton Title I paraprofessional effective Nov. 10, Sabrina Black as a Hamilton Health Room paraprofessional effective Nov. 12, Suzanne Geiger as part-time Templeton custodian effective Oct. 24 and Teresa Hopkins as the Willow Springs administrative assistant effective Nov. 17.