April 20, 2020

Changes to grades K4-6 student progress reporting approved

The Hamilton School Board accepted the recommendation of a staff and parent committee to adjust how elementary and intermediate schools will report and communicate student progress.school board meeting_type

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, teachers will:

  • continue Great Start Conferences with improvements suggested by parents and staff;
  • have fall and spring conferences based on parent preference for a phone, email or in-person session; 
  • issue semester report cards in January and June; and 
  • use the app Seesaw and rubrics regularly to communicate student progress.

Report cards will be aligned to standards with one descriptor key that matches rubric terminology of “beginning,” “developing,” “proficient” and “excelling” for grades K-6 standards and learning behaviors. No grades will be calculated for third and fourth grade content areas. Silver Spring students will have calculated grades in all content areas except science. Overall comments will be provided at the end rather than for each content area. Quarterlong classes at Silver Spring will receive a grade at the end of the quarter. Kindergarten may consider a 3-point scale for finite skills.

Two nights and one day have been allotted for conferences, but the 15-20 minute sessions can be scheduled any time in November or March.

Guidelines regarding the frequency of SeeSaw use will be developed and rubrics will be developed within the curriculum review cycle for each content area.

District moves to pilot with FastBridge

Another committee recommendation was accepted. After administrators, reading specialists, math support teachers, psychologists and special education teachers reviewed the alternatives, they recommended piloting FastBridge in 2020-21 at Hamilton, Silver Spring, Lannon, Marcy and Woodside for reading and math screeners, replacing MAP and PALS. All schools will use FastBridge progress monitoring probes.

Among its advantages, FastBridge will be a faster assessment and costs will be about $10,500 less than using the current system.

Board looks at first draft of 2020-21 budget

The Hamilton School Board took its first look at the 2020-21 budget at its regular meeting. The budget totals $63.4 million — a 2.61 percent increase over the current budget.

The district expects to see a slight increase of 0.12 in state aid. The tax rate will be $9.38 per $1,000 of equalized property value, a 2.74 percent increase. The impact for local taxpayers will be a $25 increase for each $100,000 of property owned.

The budget was created with the assumption that property values in the district will increase by 2.5 percent and enrollment will increase by 70 students. The tax rate could be affected if the projections do not match up in October with actual numbers. Increased property values and student enrollment would result in a lower tax rate, and less-than-expected property valuation and enrollment will cause an increase.

The School Board will vote in May on the final budget that will be presented at the July 20 Annual Meeting.

AET, music curriculum changes adopted

Curriculum documents for applied engineering and technology (AET) and music were approved. AET added “Digital Electronics” and “Automation” to course offerings beginning in 2020. Content in other classes were adjusted within course strands to better reflect learning progression. “AP Music Theory” and “Intermediate Music Theory” courses were added for the 2020-21 school year.

Curriculum resources approved

The School Board approved the purchase of $26,975 for curriculum resources that include new “AP Biology” textbooks, an online spelling resource for Silver Spring and the paid version of Seesaw for grades K-6 student progress communication.

Students make early credit requests

A total of 26 high school students requested admission to the Early College Credit Program (ECCP) that will allow them to take classes next semester at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee/Waukesha and Carroll University. In addition, 16 students’ requests to take Waukesha County Technical College courses through Start College Now were also approved. Both programs were formerly part of the Youth Options Program. Hamilton Principal Rebecca Newcomer noted in a report to the School Board that students are not always able to take the courses because of scheduling conflicts or full classes.

ECCP and Start College Now are programs mandated by the state that allow students who have completed tenth grade, are in good academic standing and have no disciplinary problems to attend a technical college or university if the high school does not offer comparable courses.

The programs are budgeted through the high school. The state Department of Workforce Development funds 25 percent of the ECCP program. If a student has met all graduation requirements, Hamilton may require students taking courses through the ECCP program to pay 25 percent of the course cost. For both programs the family is required to pay the full cost if a student fails, withdraws or drops the course and transportation is the family’s responsibility.

Other business

In other business, the School Board:

  • heard reports about the district’s strategic-tactical plan and Information Technology initiatives;
  • extended the dairy contract with Kemps Dairy for 2020-21;
  • did not increase lunch prices and student fees for 2020-21;
  • approved the boys’ swimming and girls’ hockey co-ops; and
  • accepted the resignations of Silver Spring Intermediate School special education teacher Kelleah Lewis, effective at the end of the 2019‐20 school year; Public Information Office administrative assistant Jessica Coon, effective April 7; Hamilton Special Services paraprofessional Sarah Braunschweig, effective April 6; and Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee Kelly Adams‐Fant, effective June 11.