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January 20, 2003

Band schedule changes approved

In what was characterized as a fine-tuning of changes that began last year, the Hamilton School Board approved a scheduling proposal for 2003-04 that will allow students to earn one credit for band and have classes that meet more often during the week.

Hamilton High School Principal David Furrer outlined the rationale for the change that was proposed by a committee of students and staff members. The school implemented changes this year that allowed students to take band for one credit instead of two by offering it on an A/B basis — opposite a physical education or citizenship class. Feedback from students and parents indicated the schedule was distracting for students who felt a more consistent schedule would be beneficial.

Hamilton has a four-period day in which classes are slated for 90 minutes Monday, Wednesday and Friday and for 75 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday with a 60-minute advisement period.

The committee recommended that a band block be scheduled during third period in which “skinnies” — or 45-minute classes — are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 75-minute classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday on an alternating basis. Opposite the band class would be Algebra-Geometry in ninth grade, Geometry or U.S. 20th Century History in 10th grade, Citizenship or Communications Arts in 11th grade; and Independent Study including Music Theory, on-line studies, Academic Assistant or Advanced Placement Focus in 12th grade.

Furrer said he believed “the changes will result in the continued growth of our instrumental music program in a way that also strengthens academic opportunities for all instrumental music students.”

Taxpayers to benefit from unexpected low interest rate

The School Board approved a resolution to borrow $3.6 million for projects approved in the November referendum with a happy surprise for taxpayers. Because the interest rate for the loan is lower than district officials had estimated, taxpayers will benefit. The interest rate was estimated to be 4.5 percent and actually came in at 3.41 percent. The result is that taxpayers will pay less than what had been projected in referendum information. The savings cannot be used for other district expenses because school districts operate under revenue caps.

Borrowing the money for $13.6 million worth of projects took place in two phases with the School Board taking action in December to borrow $10 million as a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) at the low interest rate of 1.75 percent. In a year, that amount will be refinanced into a long-term loan. The first year’s low interest rate will save taxpayers thousands of dollars in interest payments.

District financial consultants had predicted the interest rate for the remaining $3.6 million would be less than 5.5 percent, but the 3.41 percent rate was a pleasant surprise.

Issuing the bonds in two separate years allowed the district to further keep interest costs down. By keeping the loan amounts at $10 million or less each year, the district was able to offer “bank-qualified” bonds that allow a larger, more competitive pool of financial institutions to bid on the bonds.

Community members voted Nov. 5 to allow the district to borrow $6.85 million for a Marcy Elementary School addition-renovation project and $6.75 million for a Hamilton High School fine arts-learning center addition that would include an auditorium.

Parish proposes building parking lot on school property

School Board members learned about a proposal from St. James Catholic Parish in which it would build a parking lot on the Willow Spring Learning Center property that would be cooperatively used by the school and the church. The School Board will take action on the matter at a future meeting if the church is able to proceed with its plans. School Board member Gabe Kolesari said he believed the proposal “could be a win-win situation for both of us.”

Open Enrollment slots identified

A total of 43 slots were declared as available for nonresident students applying to attend school through the Open Enrollment Program. The state requires each district to identify potential seats available for the upcoming school year. Educational Services and Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz said typically the district can expect to fill about two-thirds of the declared seats available.

Templeton site plan accepted

Templeton Middle School’s site plan was accepted. Principal Patricia Polczynski and Associate Principal Dale Kuntz reported on the plan that has existed since 1999. Polczynski noted that of the three original tactics, the second one dealing wtih developing avenues of collaboration was deemed operational last year. The remaining two that continue to be worked on are to:

  • meet state standards and maximize student achivement through active, innovative, creative and rigorous learning experiences; and
  • develop and implement alternative programming options that increase academic and behavioral success for students who are disengaged or facing academic difficulty.

The school has made significant progress in reaching the two goals and will be considered operational at the end of the school year. A new Site Plan Committee will form next year to develop a new plan.

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board accepted the resignations of speech-language specialist Cynthia Lofy and Maple Avenue physical education teacher Diane Gundrum and the retirements of Maple Avenue first grade teacher Janet Christenson and Hamilton High School science teacher Thomas Hoffman. All are effective at the end of the school year.