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May 19, 2003

Monday was a night of recognition as the Hamilton School Board presented annual recognition of its Community Service Award winner, retirees and high school student representatives.

Carol Braeger presented with Community Service Award

The Hamilton School Board presents its Community Service Award to an individual or organization that has provided outstanding service and assistance to the entire district. This year community member Carol Braeger was recognized as that individual.

School Board President Gabe Kolesari and Superintendent Kathleen Cooke recognized Carol for her support of the district for many years. Carol was noted for helping with various referendum campaigns, recruiting volunteers for the Age-to-Age Pen Pal Program and participating as a pen pal herself, spearheading an effort to have an automatic defibrillator program throughout the district, being a positive promoter of the district as she welcomes newcomers through her Sussex Greetings business.

“Carol is a quiet, tireless volunteer who is known for getting things done,” Cooke said.

She also noted that Carol is accustomed to helping to shape the school district. Her late husband was one of the Building Committee members involved with the building of Maple Avenue Elementary School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Carol’s two grown daughters and several grandchildren attended the meeting with her. It was noted that even though her children are grown, she continues to support the schools by attending the events and activities of her grandchildren.

Retirees honored

Nine employees were recognized for providing 243 combined years of service to the district. They recieved a handmade clock, a citation from the state Legislature and a certificate from the Department of Public Instruction. The following were honored as Cooke described their career contributions.

Maple Avenue Elementary School first grade teacher Jan Christenson has been a valued member of the Hamilton School District for 35 years. Her positive attitude and love of children are reflected in the outstanding quality instruction that she has provided to more than 800 students. Given her 29 years of experience at the first grade level, she became known as the “first grade expert.” She always could be counted on to share her knowledge, time and resources freely with her teammates. Her kind and gentle treatment of students has served as a great role model to other staff members. Jan is uncompromising in her quest for quality educational opportunities for all children. She never loses sight of students and their needs. Maple parents have stated that their children have benefited from her wisdom, gentle nature and experience. Her personal characteristics such as patience, consideration, compassion and good judgment were great assets to our school and district. She will be greatly missed. Indeed, she is not only a caring human being but also a professional educator in every sense of the word.

Geraldine Cook served Hamilton School District students for more than 10 years as an instructional aide at Marcy and Lannon elementary schools and Templeton Middle School. She performed a variety of roles including working in the healthroom, classroom and reading resource area. She also taught students during summer school sessions. In her most recent position as a Title I teacher aide, Geraldine provided reading support for Templeton students. She did an excellent job working with the Reading Resource teacher to develop an efficient system that supported struggling readers. As a health room aide, she was extremely reliable and had excellent rapport with students in her quiet and unassuming manner. Geri has continued her commitment to students even after retiring by volunteering in Lannon computer lab once a week working with kindergarten and first grade students. The district misses Geraldine as an employee, but greatly appreciates her continued presence as a volunteer.

Karen Hagen last worked at Lannon Elementary School as the library-media aide. The calm, happy way in which she interacted with children provided them with a positive library experience. For 21 years, Karen worked at both the elementary level as well as the middle school. In both environments she was able to effectively complete her job and interact with children of all ages. Karen willingly accepted any request for help and did so in a cheerful manner.

Instructional aide, secretary, lunchroom monitor, school disciplinarian, keeper of the elementary literature tradebooks, summer school assistant coordinator, confidant of the staff all of these describe Lannon Elementary School’s Marlene Helinski. Whatever you might need done, Marlene has been there to help. She was like having another teacher available to assist. Elementary staff throughout the district knew that Marlene was taking great care of the literature book collection and she could be counted on to get them their books on time. Summer school would not be able to operate without the knowledge and expertise that Marlene brings to it each year. The Hamilton School District is a better place because of Marlene’s 35 years of commitment, dedication and inspiration. Her loving, caring concern for everyone will be greatly missed.

Hamilton High School science teacher Tom Hoffman has been a valued member of the Hamilton School District for 34 years. Through his teaching and mentoring, Tom displayed professionalism and a desire to help students reach their academic potential. As a coach, Tom dedicated time outside the classroom to help Hamilton youth develop athletically. Through the years, Tom strived to meet the educational needs of each student in science. Students left his classroom stronger in science and better prepared for life. The staff and students at Hamilton High School sincerely wish Tom a retirement of family joy and fulfillment.

Cindy Kubesch has been the reading specialist at Lannon Elementary School for 15 years. Her deep knowledge of literacy and how children learn to read has enabled Lannon to provide top-level reading and writing instruction to students. Whether she worked one-on-one, with a small group or teaching a whole class, you could always count on Cindy to provide interesting, pertinent and motivating instruction. She assisted hundreds of children in their quest to be better readers. Cindy has been on nearly every interview team for the hiring of new staff at Lannon Elementary School in the past six years. Her guidance and clear thinking has led to the employment of top-notch teaching staff. We will miss Cindy’s leadership in the area of reading and writing instruction, her thoughtfulness towards others and her poetry.

Lannon Elementary School second grade teacher Karen Thompson has dedicated her life to teaching young children, and those children have her to thank for their success. For 33 years, Karen has been a masterful teacher in the school district. She utilized every resource available to provide the best educational experiences for her students. She embraced the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and all her students have senior citizen pen pals. In her classroom she incorporated many student teachers, high school student assistants, senior citizens and parent helpers. Lannon will miss the European Fest and Dazzling Dinosaur Day events that Karen’s classes presented each year. The consistent, calm, loving manner in which she provides instruction and care for each of her students has touched the lives of countless children.

Carole Wilde has been an assistant cook in the Hamilton School District for almost 24 years. She worked briefly at the high school, but spent the majority of her years at Maple Avenue Elementary School. She was the assistant cook for the past 11 years. Over the last 24 years, Carole has played an important part in the production of more than 4.1 million student and adult lunches for the district’s elementary schools and St. John’s School. Carole is an outstanding worker and trainer to her peers. Her special skills in baking will be especially missed. As assistant head cook, Carole conducted daily business for the elementary lunch program whenever the head cook was unavailable. She will be missed in this capacity. Maple Avenue staff which Carole the best as she and her husband enjoy retirement with the love of their four children and their families.

Duane Zick has worked in the Hamilton School District for 36 years. Most of his time was spent as a groundskeeper. Instrumental in his ability to provide high quality grounds, Duane has great attention to detail and organizational skills. Duane was always willing to go the extra mile to provide students and the community with first-rate facilities. On many occasions, Duane donated his time as well as materials and equipment to the school district. His dedication and commitment to the overall success of the district is appreciated and he will be greatly missed.

High school students recognized

Cooke presented high school students Alison Furrer and Jeralee Briggs with a pen set for providing reports to the School Board in 2002-03 as board representatives.

School Board OKs budget for community review

A general operational budget totaling $36,537,387 was approved to be presented to the community. School Board members approved the amount based on Governor Jim Doyles state budget proposal. That proposal did not allow for the full cost of inflation, negotiated salary-and-benefit expenses and expected property-casualty insurance hikes. The district needed to cut more than $550,000 to be at the allowable budget established under the Doyle proposal.

Community members will have the opportunity to vote on the budget at the district’s Annual Meeting which will be held in June or July. School officials are considering delaying the Annual Meeting from June 16 to July 21 depending on when the Legislature finalizes the state budget.

Staffing plan

The district’s 2003-04 staffing plan was projected based on the Governor’s proposed budget that required the district to cut more than $550,000 of services and positions from its budget. The number of elementary full-time equivalency (FTE) positions will drop from 140.28 in 2002-03 to 136.78 in 2003-04. Middle school FTEs will go from 68.18 to 67.18, and high school staffing drops from 75.52 to 73.02.

The elementary level cuts will be accomplished by not replacing a retiring teacher and eliminating two positions being filled by teachers with replacement contracts. At the middle school, a part-time vocal music vacancy will not be filled and some elementary and high school-shared contracts will be reduced and some allied arts sections will be dropped. High school reductions include not replacing one retiring teacher, reducing technology education and funding a full technology education teacher with a gift from Belinski Brothers Builders.

The cuts will result in class size increases in grades 4 and 5, larger elementary teaching loads for “specials,” increased allied arts section sizes and an increase in high school average class sizes. The class sizes in grades 4 and 5 and at the high school will not exceed School Board policy maximums.

Policies revised

The School-Sponsored Extended Trip policy was revised to include a statement that allows the district to “modify or cancel a trip without notice if it is determined it is in the best interest, health or welfare of the students to do so.” The policy also indicates that the district will not be responsible for any costs incurred or loss of funds associated with a canceled trip.

Other policy revisions being considered are those associated with emergency nursing services. They are updated annually and the changes are based on recent laws that require chicken pox immunization and eye examination for students entering kindergarten. The emergency nursing services policies will be voted on at the next School Board meeting.

Maple Avenue asphalt to be replaced

With a low bid of $31,554, Parking Lot Maintenance will provide asphalt resurfacing of Maple Avenue Elementary School northwest parking lot and rear drive.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved lay-off notices to be sent to Hamilton teachers Julie Jarolimek (math), Margaret Bauer (business education) and Heather Evans (math) and Templeton teacher Janet Brueggeman (learning disabilities). The lay-off notices were necessary to keep the district budget within the Governor’s budget proposal. Additional lay-off may be necessary if other Legislative proposals are accepted;
  • accepted the resignations of Marcy writing resource teacher Meghan Wolf and Woodside teacher aide Martha Feldmann; and
  • modified high school teacher contracts of Penny Komatz (math) from .33 to .50, Kathleen Block (physical education) from .33 to .67 and Lindsay Schema (world languages) from .50 to .75.