April 21, 2008

District reduces energy usage
The Hamilton School District avoided more than $427,445 in increased costs by reducing energy usage over the past seven years. School Board members learned about the most recent energy savings April 21 from Business Services Director Bryan Ruud at its regular meeting.

The term “cost avoidance” is used to compare savings because the cost for utilities and energy has climbed. By lowering energy usage, budgets have remained stable. Without facility and policy changes, energy expenses would be dramatically higher.

Among the changes have been: establishing lower temperature set points during the heating season and higher set points in the cooling season so that equipment does not kick in as often; installing light sensors that turn off lights when a room is not in use; and replacing boilers, lighting and windows to increase efficiency.

School Board members were impressed with the results. Jim Long thanked Facilities Manager Jeff Grove and custodial staff for taking action.

“Most school districts go out and pay consultants and you did the leg work yourself and it has paid off,” Long said.

Gerald Schmitz said that because so many expenses in the budget are fixed, finding areas where efficiencies can be found is more important that ever. He encouraged Grove to continue the energy-saving measures.

School lunch costs to rise
One area where expenses are continuing to increase is in the lunch program. Costs for prepackaged food products and basic staples such as flour have increased between 10 and 40 percent in the past year and the trend is expected to continue in the coming year.

School Board members approved a 10-cent increase in elementary prices, and 25-cent increase for secondary students and adults. The new prices will be $2.10 for elementary students, $2.50 for middle and high school students, and $3.25 for adults.

Two principals appointed
The School Board filled two elementary school principal positions with professionals who have previous principal experience. The School Board appointed James Edmond, Jr. to Woodside Elementary School and Michele Trawicki to Marcy Elementary School. They begin their posts July 1.

Edmond is principal at J.E. Jones Elementary School in Cudahy. He was first hired in the Cudahy School District in 2001 as special programs coordinator and was promoted to principal in 2004. He taught eighth grade language arts and social studies at Shorewood Intermediate School from 1995 to 2001. He earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English from the University of Wisconsin (UW) – Milwaukee in 1995 and his master’s degree in education from Marion College in Fond du Lac in 2001.

Trawicki has been principal at Tonawonda Elementary School in the Elmbrook School District since 2005. She worked at Tonawonda since 1993, first as a second grade teacher and then as an instructional resource teacher before becoming principal. She began her education career as a first grade teacher in the Wausau and Whitefish Bay school districts. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UW-Stevens Point in 1989 and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in 1995.

“We sought experienced educators with outstanding instructional leadership and exemplary interpersonal skills,” said Hamilton Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D.

“We looked for individuals who had proven track records of success as collaborative leaders who placed achievement of all children at the highest priority,” Cooke said. “We are confident that James Edmond and Michele Trawicki will support the tradition of excellence that has been paved at Woodside and Marcy elementary schools.”

Both Edmond and Trawicki will replace principals who will retire at the end of the current school year – Linda Jorgensen at Woodside and Don Behrens, Ph.D., at Marcy.

First draft of budget presented
School Board members got their first look at the 2008-09 budget. Based on an estimated increase of 26 students, Ruud projected the budget will be $47.13 million – a 4.36 percent increase.

Using conservative estimates for anticipated state aid and property valuation, the mill rate is expected to increase two cents to $8.53 per $1,000 of value. Ruud said he used “worse case scenario” planning to project that the district will not see additional state aid and property value throughout the district will go up by five percent. Typically, state aid increases and property values increase by eight or nine percent. If either of these occurs, the mil rate will go down.

School Board members are expected to approve a budget in May that will be presented at the June 16 Annual Meeting where citizen are able to adopt the tax levy.

Parents happy with additional band position
More than a dozen parents appeared before School Board members thanking them for adding a part-time high school band teacher. Hamilton Band Booster Vice-President Darlene Barbian read a statement on behalf of band students and their parents in appreciation for the support School Board members and administrators have provided to the band program.

“As you know the band program at the high school has come a long way in the last six years,” Barbian read. “It has grown significantly in numbers of students involved in the program, grown in the number of events and activities the band is involved in, and grown in the number of parents supporting the program.”

Oaths of office administered
School Board members James Long and Michael Hyland took oaths of office for another three-year term after they ran unopposed in the April 1 election.

Other personnel news
In other personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the retirement of Maple Avenue library-media specialist Grace Sensat;
  • accepted the resignation of Hamilton social studies teacher Matthew Reischauer;
  • appointed Julie Pettit as a Woodside fifth grade teacher, Brian Steingraber as a Hamilton and Templeton technology education teacher, Mindy Pilecky as a Woodside first grade teacher, Karen Ludin as a Willow Springs early childhood paraprofessional, Deborah Mattson as a temporay Lannon special services paraprofessional, David Neubauer as a Templeton instrumental music teacher, and Rachel Hermann as a Hamilton communication arts teacher; and
  • modified the contract of speech-language specialist Angela Poulsen from 40 percent to full-time.