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December 15, 2000

The Hamilton School Board approved a proposal to add high school honors courses beginning next fall. For some School Board members, the proposal was three years in the making.

School Board member Debbie Briggs said offering honors courses to challenge high ability students was discussed more than three years ago when School Board members asked staff members to address issues of academic rigor. After the implementation of the four-period day, a committee of 14 high school staff members and parents began studying the potential of adding honors courses.

Briggs urged board members to be patient when evaluating the success of initiatives. Next year’s freshmen will be the first to be eligible to take honors courses in communication arts 9, world cultures, integrated science and citizenship. In the fall of 2002, communication arts 10, biology, chemistry and U.S. history will be added.

All the courses lead to Advanced Placement (AP) courses in which students who get a passing score of three or higher earn college credit. Students would not have to take honors courses to take AP courses.

Honors courses, designed for students capable of learning more quickly and at a deeper level, are not necessarily recommended for all collegebound students.

Implementation of the Honors Program will require adding a .67 full-time equivalency position in 2001-2002 and the same in 2002-2003 at a cost of about $40,000 each year. Curriculum development and instructional material expenses will total $9,000 in each year as well.

Strategic Plan update

The district’s 28-member Strategic Plan team met Dec. 1 to hear about the plan’s progress and recommend adaptations. Educational Services and Human Resources Director Dean Schultz summarized the daylong process.

The plan’s four strategies state that the district will:

  • create a staff development plan to implement and support best practices in instructional strategies in every classroom;
  • implement assessment practices that will ensure continuous progress for each student;
    communicate its mission, beliefs and accomplishments to internal and external communities by implementing a public information plan; and
  • actively involve family and community members in the learning process of all students.

The planning team reviewed data about student achievement, demographics, spending and staffing, heard about each school’s site plan and were updated on the accomplishments of each of the district’s four strategies. The planning team adjusted some of the plan’s objectives, used to measure progress, and recommended:

  • emphasizing the comprehensive nature of Hamilton High School and the accomplishments and expectations at all the schools in the public information plan;
  • reconvening strategy No. 4 to develop and communicate the role of parents in increasing student achievement;
  • gathering additional information on post high school apprenticeship plans;
  • clarifying for teachers the collection of data regarding rubric use;
  • developing two objectives concerning the AP and ACT tests;
  • communicating the commitment of local control by writing a letter to the Kettl Commission; and
  • requiring sophomores to take the PLAN test and eighth-graders to take the EXPLORE test with staffing and funding to support the requirement.

After developing plans to implement the Strategic Plan team’s recommendations, the Strategic Plan will go before the School Board in January for approval.

Special meeting slated Jan. 30

The School Board approved a resolution to establish a special annual meeting Jan. 30 to seek community approval that would allow Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church to have access to their property through district owned property on Silver Spring Road. The easement would also allow access to Templeton Middle School as well.

In personnel matters the School Board approve a leave of absence for Hamilton social studies teacher Kathy Lynch for second semester and accepted the resignation of Hamilton cleaner Ernie Jaekl.