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September 19, 2005

Tax levy passed at Annual Meeting

About 18 Hamilton School District residents approved a tax levy of $22.77 million for the 2005-06 school year at the district Annual Meeting. The tax levy — the portion of the budget that is paid by district property taxpayers — represents about one-half of a percent decrease over last year’s levy. The equalized mill rate for school purposes will drop 59 cents to $10.19 per $1,000 of property value — a 5.5 percent decrease over last year’s rate.

The $40.29 million budget represents an 4.64 percent increase in spending that is offset by 12.12 percent increase in state aid. School officials anticipate serving approximately 50 more students in 2005-06 compared to the previous year.

The only comments about the budget came from resident and Waukesha County Board Supervisor Joe Marchese, a familiar face at the district’s annual meetings.

“We all have to pay taxes, but at the same time they should be controlled,” he said. “I think we are getting a bargain. We should be proud of what we’re paying for this fabulous school district.”

For the 13th consecutive year, Wisconsin school district will operate under revenue caps. The state Legislature determines the amount of state aid districts will receive and caps the per-pupil expenditure increase. To meet 2005-06 state revenue caps, the following restructuring and adjustments in programs and services were made:

Middle school schedule converted from 8-period to 7-period day resulting in

  • increased time students spend in core academics;
  • flexible sixth grade schedule similar to elementary level;
  • reduced time in electives.

High school staff reduced and class sizes increased.

Special education staff was added to serve increasing special education student needs.

District and grant funds will focus on new elementary-level mathematics instruction.

The high school build-a-house program was eliminated.

The budget anticipates community growth will be at 5.3 percent — a conservative estimate based on previous experience. If community property growth is higher than 5.3 percent, taxpayers can expect to see a lower mill rate.

The state Department of Public Instruction will verify revenue amount in October when the district expects to make final adjustments.

In addition to approving the tax levy, voters agreed to raise School Board member annual salaries to $3,770 — a $100 increase. Marchese encouraged voters to approve the increase.

“I appreciate the time these people spend away from their families,” he said. “I think it is justified for the time they put in.”

Board, superintendent goals OK’d

After interviewing School Board members Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., submitted the following goals for 2005-06 that were approved:

  • Develop resources and implement strategies to enhance student achievement.
  • Implement district Strategic Plan.
  • Promote positive school image.
  • Promote and expand relationships with the community.
  • Monitor district enrollments and community growth and convene Facilities Advisory Committee to develop long-range plans to address facility needs.
  • Update School Board policies.

Regular meeting business approved

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., reported on the summer workshops which included curriculum projects and professional development.

Curriculum work included work related to writing revision, site plans and Templeton restructuring. Professional development focused on data interpretation of student achievement at Templeton and Hamilton, training for the new elementary mathematics program and new student database training.

Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman reported that of the four children whose parents requested early admission to kindergarten, one request was withdrawn and two were granted. No students applied for early admission for first grade. The numbers are typical of what the district has seen in the last few years.
Of eight children whose parents requested early admission to the K5 program, seven were screened and two were granted admission based on their readiness for school. No requests were made for early admission to 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.

Personnel changes OK’d

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • increased contracts from 50 to 60 percent of speech and language specialists Kathy Voss-Schwartz at Lannon, Christine Raabe at Willow, and Jennifer Kryscio at Hamilton and Templeton;
  • appointed paraprofessionals Jill Johnson and Anna Rauter for Marcy special services, and Cheryl Schroeder for Hamilton publications.