Task force looks at reopening schools
Before the 2019-20 school year ended, a task force was already studying myriad issues of reopening school for 2020-21 amid a pandemic. While School Board members will get a final comprehensive report July 20, Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., gave them a status update on the work of the five subcommittees that comprise the Reopening School Task Force.
The five subcommittees, their scope of study and status are:
Social & Emotional Wellness – Support students and staff during the reopening of school, reestablish PBIS expectations, identify students in need of assistance and re-establish cognitive endurance.
- Evaluating needs of students and staff
- Prioritizing professional learning activities and welcome back activities
- Identifying professional learning around supporting students with mental health and SEW needs, with common resources for staff to support students in discussion
- Developing plans to re-establish PBIS within schools
Teaching & Learning – Enable students to continue to make academic progress and prevent regression. The subcommittee will set the direction and vision for the academic program which includes building the instructional model for potential learning environments.
- Preparing for traditional in person start:
- Preparing for returning students and anticipating the need for virtual instruction for students if they become ill or need to be quarantined for 14 days
- Creating action plans for “common” platforms based on grade levels, i.e., See Saw, Google classroom, etc.
- Planning for a 100% virtual option for parents not wanting to send their children back to school buildings
- Reviewing how to utilize staff who indicated, through a district survey, they are interested in working in a virtual setting
- Parents will receive a survey to determine interest in a 100% virtual setting for their students
Technology – Ensure effective and equitable access and use of technology to support learning and communication in all learning environments. The subcommittee will lead technology access and support by conducting an inventory, issuing devices and ensuring access for families who do not have internet.
- Determining needs for equipment to support teaching and learning
- Standardizing platforms used
- Streamlining processes for communicating software and application availability and requests
- Assessing bandwidth
- Collect data points during online registration regarding devices available and internet access
Human Resources and Finance – Maintain effective and efficient budgetary, financial and human resources operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.
- Creating Pandemic Handbook
- Accommodation forms
- Employee sick-time questions
- Recommendations on travel outside of state
- Creating guidance for staff to follow regarding PPE in classrooms
- Creating a flow chart or graphic representation of when an employee/family member/child has COVID
Facilities and Operations – Maintain effective and efficient facilities, nutrition services and other key operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.
- Food service items under consideration:
- Touchless or no-touch point of sale, student IDs on lanyards with barcode
- Disposable trays and utensils
- Staggering arrival times in the cafeteria
- Potential to have assigned seating
- Directed traffic flow
- Busing items under consideration:
- Potential assigned seating on buses
- Loading back to front
- Washing and cleaning process between routes
- Parents can opt out using buses
- Health room and monitoring items under consideration:
- Designated isolation room in each school. Showing symptoms (N95 for staff/gowns) isolate in an area
- Self-monitoring for families/students as well
- Education and training hygiene – more signage
- Limiting visitors coming into school to only essential individuals
- Other items under consideration:
- Plexiglass high traffic areas
- Investigating face shields for staff working directly with students
- Working on hand sanitizer dispensers for all rooms
- Signage reminders about handwashing and symptoms
- Closing drinking fountains but keeping water bottle fillers open
- Reevaluating cleaning processes for cleaning high-touch – high traffic areas
- DPI has provided district with masks to distribute to students
In personnel matters, the School Board:
- accepted the retirement request of Food & Nutrition Services Assistant Manager Sandra MacPherson, effective Aug. 31; and
- approved the resignations of Maple Avenue special education teacher Heather Ertl, Woodside instructional paraprofessional Lauren Vogt and Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee Diana Muche, all effective June 2020.
District pulls together task force for opening of 2020-21 school year
Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., shared with Hamilton School Board members a report how the district is preparing for the opening of the 2020-21 school year considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the preferred option is to have all students return to school buildings, the district is creating multiple contingency plans in the event that limited numbers of students are permitted to return to an in-person model,” Mielke wrote in his report. “The district is also creating plans and protocols regarding a response should there be a Coronavirus outbreak in one of the school buildings.”
A task force will study issues and provide recommendations to ensure the overall safety and well-being of the school community. Families and employee were invited to provide input via online surveys, and the results will be used as plans are created. The task force will focus on five areas that include: social and emotional support; teaching and learning; technology; human resources and finance; and facilities and operations.
Open Enrollment students placed on waiting list
The district received 152 applications from nonresident students to attend Hamilton schools under Open Enrollment. No spaces are available in the district, so applicants will be placed on a waiting list for the 2020-21 school year. The district will monitor expected enrollment throughout the summer to determine if students will be recommended for placement at schools based on space availability with priority for siblings of current students.
Lunch prices remain the same
Student fees and lunch prices for 2020-21 will remain unchanged for most students in the district. Lunch prices are: $2.60 for elementary and $2.95 for intermediate, middle and high school students. Intermediate students’ meals will include a salad bar, and bistro box meals will be $2.60. Lunch prices for adults will be $3.75. The cost for a carton of milk for all students will remain at 35 cents.
District renews participation in SWSA
School Board members authorized the district to renew participation in the Southeastern Wisconsin School Alliance (SWSA). The 32-member alliance provides school leaders from southeastern Wisconsin with objective, non-partisan information and training as they work with policymakers regarding education issues. The annual cost to participate in SWSA is $3,200 per school district.
Reports, documents get OK
Many reports and documents were approved including:
- Templeton and Hamilton student handbooks;
- Hamilton 2020-21 co-curricular handbooks;
- district emergency nursing services policies and procedures;
- bloodborne pathogens procedures;
- special education procedures handbook;
- district interventions status report;
- teacher supervision and evaluation policies and procedures;
- membership in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association; and
- waiver of Wisconsin local wellness policy triennial assessment.
In personnel business, the School Board
- accepted the resignations of Hamilton High School Associate Principal Laura Westcott and Silver Spring Intermediate School Teacher Whitney Roth;
- appointed Whitney Roth as district curriculum specialist and Tracy Gordon as district nurse, both effective July 1;
- approved retirement request of Hamilton High School Marketing Teacher, Skip Hay effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Hamilton High School students representing 11 curriculum areas were selected as students of the month for May.
- Cassandra Leuty, applied engineering and technology;
- McKenzie Tyriver, art;
- Audrey Davies, business education;
- Isabella Atkinson, communication arts;
- Rachel Choroszy, family and consumer sciences;
- Nina Luebke, fitness education;
- Matthew Gerardo and Grace Kurucz, mathematics;
- Sophia Schick, music;
- Mackenzie Joranlien, science;
- Ellyanna Ybarra, social studies; and
- Justine Ackaouy, world languages.
Students received a certificate and a pin for their accomplishment.
Hamilton High School students representing 11 curriculum areas were selected as students of the month for April.
- Christian Dockery, applied engineering and technology;
- Emma Hartman, art;
- Madelyn Gorgen, business education;
- Sydney Lex, communication arts;
- Sara Harder, family and consumer sciences;
- Grace Stefaniak, fitness education;
- Abby Hubbell, mathematics;
- Madeline Ullrick, music;
- Nathan Rose, science;
- DavidMichael Diedrick and Tarejah Russell-Dean, social studies; and
- Peyton Boelk, world languages.
Students received a certificate and a pin for their accomplishment.
Instructional coach position reconfigured into curriculum specialist
The Hamilton School Board created a new position of curriculum specialist at its June 2 meeting. The new position replaces the district’s instructional coach position, which is currently held by Cathy Drago who will become instructional services supervisor with the retirement of Katie Little at the end of the month. The curriculum specialist will assist the instructional services supervisor and will serve as chair of curriculum committees as well as having a major role in district staff development.
In a written report on status of the instructional and literacy coaching initiative, Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little and Human Resources Director John Roubik stated that the new position will focus on supporting the instructional services supervisor in implementation of the assessment initiative. They said they believe the shift in emphasis will have a significant impact on addressing current needs of teachers and strategic plan next steps.
The district hired one full-time instructional coach in 2016 and aligned reading specialists’ teaching schedules to include time for literacy coaching in each building. Over the last four years, hundreds of teachers have benefitted from the coaching provided by these teachers, according to Little and Roubik. As the district moves forward with its strategic plan initiatives, greater emphasis will be on curriculum development and professional learning with a greater understanding of standards and assessment practices.
Reading specialists will continue to support literacy coaching in each building which includes partnering with teachers to help them incorporate research-based instructional practices into their teaching, encouraging reflection about their classroom practices and helping them identify their professional goals and implement a plan for reaching them. The focus will continue to be on improving instruction.
Year-end projects OK’d
The School Board gave approval to a prioritized list of buildings and grounds projects that will be completed if designated year-end budgets allow. Among the highest priority are asphalt replacement of the high school student parking lot, roof replacement and heating, ventilation and air conditioning control updates. Totals project expenses are:
- District – $323,200
- Hamilton High – $730,500
- Templeton – $375,500
- Silver Spring – $8,000
- Willow – $42,500
- Lannon – $52,800
- Marcy – $76,000
- Maple Avenue – $123,000
- Total – $1,737,500
In other action, the School Board approved revisions to the 2020-21 National Honor Society handbook and accepted a status report update on the district’s strategic plan.
Hamilton High School student Jacob Hubred is reaching out to the community as part of his Advanced Placement Language class. Students are doing service projects as their final for the class, and Hubred chose to raise awareness for Sussex Outreach Services food pantry’s most needed items. His deadline is June 10 when students present their final product. Here is his message:
Due to COVID-19, Sussex Outreach Services has started providing weekday breakfasts and lunches for those who don’t have as much access to food during this difficult time. Below are their most needed food donations. If you are able, please consider donating to help those in your community. Thank you!
SOS most needed items:
- Jelly and crunchy peanut butter
- Breakfast items – cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix and syrup
- Meal items – canned pasta, manwich, hamburger helper
- Chunky soups
- Boxed sides – pasta, rice, potato