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September 7, 2004

WIAA looks at conference realignment for Hamilton

School Board members gave spirited reaction to a proposal from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to place Hamilton into a difference athletic conference.

Athletics and Activities Director Michael Gosz summarized two plans that the WIAA is considering for conference realignment. The plan that drew strong reaction from some School Board members calls for Hamilton to be moved from the Greater Metro to the Wisconsin Little Ten conference. The Greater Metro is a 9-member conference that also includes Brookfield Central and East, Divine Savior, Marquette, Menomonee Falls, Wauwatosa East and West Allis Central and Hale. With student enrollment at 1,188, Hamilton is the smallest school; enrollment at other schools in the conference ranges from 1,211 to 2,078

WIAA is floating the realignment plans because it wants to pull the 1,691-student Hartford Union from the Little Ten Conference. Other Little Ten schools include Beaver Dam, Oconomowoc, Watertown, West Bend East and West, and Wisconsin Lutheran. Little Ten school enrollments range from 893 to 1,454. The plan would expand the conference from seven to eight schools by adding Hamilton and the 919-student Slinger.

The advantage of being in the Little Ten Conference would being more evenly matched competition. Gosz said 2003-04 was a “rough year for us” in sports.

The disadvantages Gosz noted were increased travel times and costs. The average distance from Hamilton to another school in the Greater Metro Conference is 14.75 miles compared to 25.9 miles in the Little Ten. Estimated increases for transportation costs would be about $13,200.

School Board Member Gerald Schmitz voiced his dissatisfaction with the plan.

“I think it’s a shame that we are even talking about this.” Schmitz said. “We know we are a smaller school (in the Greater Metro Conference), but did we complain? To be adding expenses at a time when school districts are struggling with finances is just not right.”

School Board Member Jennifer Rude Klett said the change was “highly impractical” and “not family friendly.”

“The net effect of this change will be to diminish the participation rate in co-curricular activities,” Klett said. She said she objected to students getting home later and being pulled out of school early so that they could travel to sports contests.

School Board Member Michael Hyland, who officiates WIAA games, said joining the Little Ten Conference also brings some advantages.

“I think people would be pleasantly surprised with the schools and athletic directors in that conference,” Hyland said. “They are some of the classiest people I’ve met.”

School Board President Gabe Kolesari directed Gosz to request a face-to-face hearing with WIAA officials so that the two of them, along with Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, could discuss the impact the decision would have on the district.

The School Board is expected to pass a resolution voicing its sentiment about the realignment at its Sept. 20 meeting. The resolution will address: increased travel time and costs; early dismissals for traveling athletes; later home arrivals after an away athletic event; lack of competition with districts that are contiguous with Hamilton; and impact on sports including summer versus spring baseball seasons and the cooperative swim team with Menomonee Falls.

The second WIAA proposal that School Board members did not dispute pulled Hartford Union into the Greater Metro Conference and placed Slinger in the Wisconsin Little Ten. Other than competing in a 10- instead of 9-school conference, Hamilton would not be affected by the second plan.

One early admission granted into kindergarten

Special Services Supervisor Charlene DeGroot reported that of the seven children whose parents requested early admission into the 5-year-old kindergarten program, only one ultimately went on to attend the program this fall. DeGroot presented a report to the School Board that showed two of the seven who requested early admission did not participate in screening. Only one of the five children who were screened was deemed to be ready for the kindergarten program for 5-year-olds. The district provides a half-day program for 4-year-olds.
DeGroot noted that no parents requested early admission for first grade.

The district’s policy states that no child may be admitted to 4K, 5K or first grade unless he
or she is four, five or six years old, respectively, on or before Sept. 1 of the year they attend school. The early admission policy allows parents to request early admission to 5K and first grade. School staff base their approval or denial of an early admission request on results from academic, social, physical and emotional development screening.

Agreement reached with custodians

School Board members approved a three-year agreement (2004-07) for custodians that includes:

  • health insurance concessions;
  • increased retirement benefits;
  • language adjustments; and
  • salary increases of 2.5 percent beginning in July 2004, 2 percent in July 2005, 1.5 percent in July 2006 and 1 percent in January 2007.

Personnel matter approved

In personnel matters, the School Board :

  • accepted the resignations of Marcy special services paraprofessionals Caitlin Gatterman and Lou Ann Link, Hamilton communication arts teacher Jill Cook, Hamilton student supervisor Jill Storm and Templeton bookkeeper Anne Nitschke; and
  • appointed Lynn Richmond as a Willow Springs kindergarten teacher, Patty Chapman as a high school special services paraprofessional, Mariya Grabow as a Hamilton communication arts teacher, Claire Sunstrom as a Maple fifth grade replacement teacher, Melissa Foshager as a Woodside fifth grade replacement teacher, and Marianne Baker as a Lannon part-time ERE teacher.