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May 4, 2004

Elementary guidance services reconfigured

Three factors moved the Hamilton School Board to make changes in guidance services in the district. The changes will occur because of the retirement of an elementary guidance counselor, the ending of a state program that provided guidance interns and the need for more preventive alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) services.

Students in Hamilton’s four elementary schools received guidance services from two certified counselors and an intern. With help from federal funds, a consultant provided AODA services to secondary-level students and fifth-graders. The intern also provided AODA lessons to fifth-graders.

The state’s guidance intern program, which the district utilized to provide services for Maple Avenue Elementary School students, ends this year and no new interns will be available. Lannon and Marcy schools shared a full-time counselor and Woodside had a full-time counselor.

The new guidance plan maintains a full-time counselor at Woodside, the district’s largest elementary school with 595 students. Maple Avenue, with an enrollment of 500 students, also will have a full-time counselor. Marcy and Lannon schools, with smaller enrollments, each will have a 40-percent counselor position. The district also will hire a 40-percent position to coordinate AODA services that focus on preventive activities. The AODA coordinator will guide elementary counselors who will provide services to younger students, focusing on parents’ role in preventing drug use as children become pre-adolescent.

The loss of federal funds for AODA services and the additional cost for an AODA coordinator and two part-time counselors is counterbalanced by savings from replacement of an experienced counselor with one whose salary and benefits will not be as high, the elimination of the intern stipend and AODA consultant expenses. Still, newly configured guidance services will be an additional $21,471 over existing expenses.

School Board Member Jennifer Rude Klett, the only one to vote against the change, said she did not want to vote for additional AODA services when they are not proven to work.

New positions approved for Fine Arts Center

Two new positions descriptions were approved to help manage the new Fine Arts Center at Hamilton High School. The part-time positions will be responsible to ensure a clean, comfortable, healthy, safe and efficient environment in the new building that is set to open next fall.

The Fine Arts Center coordinator will coordinate stage set-up with staff and others, schedule and operate stage lights and equipment, support productions, coordinate recording of performances, ensure equipment maintenance, maintain an organized ticket office, train house personnel and FAC assistants and communicate with others regarding maintenance, financial and performance matters.

FAC assistants will help the coordinator carry out his or her duties. School officials expect the positions will be add-on responsibilities for existing employees, with the coordinator earning $4,500 per year and two assistants, paid on an hourly basis, earning no more than $2,000 each per year. Eventually, revenue from community use of the FAC is expected to recoup personnel expenses for the new positions.

Mentor Program approved

The School Board approved the Mentor-New Teacher Program developed by administrators and United Lakewood Educators. While the district has had a Mentor Program in place for more than a decade, state law requires the School Board to adopt a program with orientation, support seminars and a qualified mentor.

Hamilton’s program was changed to reflect the state goals. The updated program enhances peer coaching and defines different types of mentoring for teachers who enter the district with various levels of experiences.

District projects 56 new students

Enrollment is expected to increase by 56 students next year. The district plans to keep staffing levels the same as the current year, but School Board members approved three additional contingency teaching positions to accommodate unanticipated enrollment increases. The additional positions are budgeted at $210,000 for salary and benefits. The funds for the contigency positions will come from more aid that additional students will bring and elementary specialist cuts that were made at the April 19 meeting.

Kathy Rankin recognized

Templeton family and consumer education teacher Kathy Rankin earned kudos from her colleagues as she was recognized at the School Board meeting. Templeton teacher Arlyn Clarksen and Principal Patricia Polczynski explained why Rankin was nominated for School Board recognition. Clarksen said she is a dedicated teacher whose talents are evident when she coordinates a Community Brunch each quarter that allows students to apply lessons learned in her classes. Students learn basic table service, food preparation, safety and sanitation standards, communication skills and the importance of family and personal relationships. Rankin also helped Templeton Student Council members by making a school banner.

Personnel matter approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Templeton Middle School Spanish teacher Ellen Celske;
  • accepted the retirement of Willow Springs Learning Center custodian Art Rude effective Aug. 31;
  • increased from half-time to full-time the contracts of Woodside teachers Rachel Anderson and Melissa Mortl; and
  • appointed Julie Altmayer as a Woodside kindergarten teacher and Jessica Seidl as a Willow Springs 4-year-old kindergarten teacher.