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April 16, 2001

Hamilton School Board members learned about results from the district’s Community Survey conducted in November 2000. Public Information Coordinator Denise Dorn Lindberg reported on findings of stratified scientifically random survey completed by 522 community members.

Among the findings of the 2000 data are:

  • Generally, people have overwhelming more positive responses as compared to negative responses. There are no areas where the negative response is even close to the number of people responding favorably. For example, 50 percent considered the district to be doing an excellent or above average job overall in educating students. Only 4 percent said the district was below average or failing. “For every negative response, there were more than 12.5 favorable reactions,” Lindberg said.
  • Overall perceptions of the district’s quality are better than average.
  • When asked about level of importance, all curricular or program areas had high levels of importance attached. Basic skills, preparation for college, computer ability or literacy, preparation for the job market and preparation for technical school were considered important or very important by 90 percent or more of the respondents. All other areas had at lease two-thirds to four-fifths of the respondents who judged them important or very important.
  • Newspapers were the top source of information about the school district for people. The next four sources come from the district: Education Issues, school newsletters, direct information sent from the district and the Community Calendar.
  • Through a series of 12 questions, a majority of people agreed that characteristics identified as contributing to quality schools are evident in the Hamilton School District.
  • Half the respondents believed the district offered the same amount of services and programs as other area school districts, 14 percent said it offered more and 11 percent said fewer. One-quarter was not sure or had no opinion.
  • A majority of people would choose the Hamilton School District for their children to attend school if given choice at any public or private school.

In addition, Lindberg compared the 2000 data to results from similar surveys conducted in 1993 and 1996. The district saw dramatic improvement from 1993 to 1996. Results from 1996 to 2000 were subtler ­ often not even statistically significant.

Among the most significant findings when comparing to results from 1993 and 1996 are:

  • Survey results show improvement from 1993 baseline data in almost every aspect of the district including satisfaction, level of knowledge, involvement and overall rating.

    Level of knowledge and involvement:
    Residents report greater levels of knowledge about the Hamilton School District since 1996 and 1993. More people indicate that they are very knowledgeable and somewhat knowledgeable about the school district (36 percent in 1993, 38 percent in 1996, 47 percent in 2000). Conversely, there is a decrease in those reporting they have only average or little knowledge of the district.

    There are similar levels of involvement in school committees or support organizations compared to 1996 but an increase over 1993. More parents are satisfied with opportunities for involvement. Fewer parents were dissatisfied in 2000 compared to 1996. There is also increase in satisfied and very satisfied ratings.

    Ratings of quality and satisfaction:
    Survey results show some changes in the district when compared to1996 data, but mean score averages between 1996 and 2000 changed by less than 3 percent. The greatest change in mean score average was a 2.61 percent decrease in the guidance and counseling area. All other areas increased or decreased between 1.18 percent and .27 percent.

  • The most striking differences are evident when comparing 2000 results to baseline data collected in 1993. In the overall rating of the district, more respondents said education is either excellent or above average in the Hamilton School District in 2000 compared to 1993 results. Fewer people rate the district as average.

    While all areas increased from 1993 to 2000, greatest gains were seen in:
    – Preparation for technical school or apprenticeships (+5.9 percent);
    – Preparation for the job market (+5.3 percent);
    – Basic skills such as reading, writing, mathematics and science (+4.8 percent);
    – Computer ability or literacy (+3.5 percent); and
    – Preparation for college (+2.1 percent).

    Individual curricular and program area results show that from 1993 to 2000, almost every area also posted increases in satisfaction and decreases in dissatisfaction. Guidance and counseling was the only exception. From 1996 to 2000, results were more similar than different with statistically significant results being an increase in four not sure/no opinion responses and decrease in those who say computer ability or literacy is below average, a decrease in those who say guidance and counseling is above average and increase who way it is below average

  • Levels of importance among the top six priorities were stable. What respondents considered important in 1993 and 1996 were still considered important in 2000, namely: basic skills such as reading, writing mathematics and science; preparation for college; preparation for the job market; computer ability or literacy; preparation for technical school or apprenticeships; and guidance and counseling. Greater levels of importance were noted for physical education and health, sports and cocurricular activities, music and fine arts and foreign language.
  • Statistically significant differences were noted in five of the 12 quality school characteristics, including the following.

    – Safe and orderly environment had more who strongly agreed and fewer who somewhat agreed.
    – High expectations had more who strongly agreed, fewer who somewhat agreed and more who strongly disagreed.

    – Fewer somewhat disagreed that the district monitors student progress.

    · Fewer people somewhat disagree that there is parent and community involvement.

    · Fewer people somewhat agreed and more were not sure or had no opinion about challenging instruction.

  • Choosing a school
    The majority, 54 percent, said they would stay in the Hamilton School District – a 1 percent increase from 1996, but a statistically significant 7 percent increase over 1993. Another 26 percent indicated they would choose a private school, which is not significantly different from 22 percent in 1993 and 1996. A real difference is seen, however, in the percentage that would choose another public school. Twelve percent in 2000 said they would choose another public school as compared to 5 percent in 1993 and 6 percent in 1996. Respondents were asked in 2000 to answer this question hypothetically even if they did not currently have school-age children. This explains why the percentage of people who indicated they had no children in 2000 was only 2 percent compared to 15 percent in 1996 and 20 percent in 1993 – statistically significant differences.
  • Support for auditorium and swimming pool
    More people believe the district should build an auditorium, but the percentage in favor of a swimming pool is not changed from 1996. Both show the majority support having the district build these facilities, but questions did not factor in cost.

Board members voted to enter a 2-year contract with the National Employee Assistance Services (NEAS) at a cost of $7,074 for each year of the contract. NEAS, the district’s current provider of employee assistance services, met all the requirements established by the district and submitted the lowest cost.

The student fee structure was reviewed. Changes include a family maximum athletic fee at Templeton from $45 to $60 and at Hamilton from $75 to $90. In addition, club fees would increase to $10 at Templeton and $15 at Hamilton. This is up from $7 and $10, respectively. Club fees paid would apply toward the family maximum. Family Athletic-Activity passes would increase $5 to $45.

Board members discussed the possibility of raising student-parking fees, and asked administrators to come back with recommendations.

Lunch fees will remain at $150 for elementary students and $2 for those at the Sussex Senior Center, but will increase for others including:
– middle and high school students- $1.75, up .10;
– adults – $2.35, up .10;
– senior citizens at the federal meal site – $2.35, up .10;
– St. John’s with no milk – $1.50, up .15;
– St. John’s adult, no milk – $1.90, up .05.

Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., presented the district’s staff development plan for 2001-2002. It includes initiatives to differentiate instruction, meet building site plan needs, provide specific content-area workshops and train staff in instructional technology. In addition to approving the plan, contingent on approval of the 2001-2002 budget, the board authorized summer workshops. The workshops are intended to revise curriculum in art, business education and technology education and develop specific course curriculum, as well as provide professional development opportunities.

Even though the organization disbanded in December 2000, School Board members took formal action to dissolve the Community Education and Recreation Program between the district, Villages of Lannon and Sussex and Town of Lisbon.

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved resignations of Woodside kitchen employees Lee Hintz and Kim Budlow and Hamilton business education teacher Kim McFadden; and
  • appointed Bonnie Moakley as Maple Avenue teacher aide and Diana Marty as Lannon teacher aide.