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June 5, 2007

Student violators to face random testing
Students who violate alcohol tobacco and other drug (ATOD) policies of the Hamilton High School Extra and Co-Curricular Handbook will be required to submit to random drug testing at their own expense. The School Board approved handbook revisions recommended by a committee of faculty, parents, students and district staff who reviewed the document.

Students who self-refer or have first and second violations of the athletic co-curricular code will be subject to random drug testing at parent’s expense for one calendar year from the date of suspension. Suspension will occur if a student refuses to be tested or fails a drug test.

Another handbook change indicates that students will attend ATOD sessions directed by the district in-house Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse counselor rather than having a mandatory outside assessment.

School Board member Lynn Kristensen, who was also a member of committee that reviewed the handbook, said outside assessments were not as effective for students as having the district’s counselor work with students. She said the change would allow the counselor to have a better “pulse on what is happening in the district.”

Earlier this year committee members considered implementing random drug testing for all students involved in athletics and extra-curricular activities. Following a School Board study session on the topic, the committee was asked to revisit the matter because of the legal issues involved and lack of evidence that it deters use.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke said the district’s legal counsel reviewed the policy and indicated that it could be a model for others because it avoided legal entanglements of testing student who did not violate any code.

Gifted students supported through Spectrum
Students who are gifted and talented are supported on three levels in the district. Most have their needs addressed through differentiation in their classroom. Some participate in pull-out projects or enriched and honors courses beyond the classroom. Those with the greatest needs have individual programming that may include early entrance, grade level acceleration and individualized coursework.

Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., described how gifted and talented students are serviced through the Spectrum Program. The district has three Spectrum teachers – one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Goals of the teachers are:

  • elementary – identify students by the second or third grade and provide more information to classroom teachers;
  • middle school – increase extension enrichment support for social studies and science teachers, meet with all houses twice during the year to gather information about student and teacher needs, and offer staff development on enrichment and critical thinking strategies; and
  • high school – devote more guidance scheduling time and provide “focused support” to assist the increasing number of students who are taking multiple Advanced Placement courses.

School Board member Michael Hyland asked Bauman if the district had enough Spectrum staff to meet the needs of all gifted and talented students. Bauman acknowledged that staff were stretched thin, but said they work closely with classroom teachers.

“Most of what happens for students will be in the regular classroom,” Bauman said.

Cooke noted the increased opportunities that students have in the district. In the past, the high school was able to run only three or four AP courses. Next year there will be 12.

Fallen soldiers recognized
Plaques for two Hamilton High School graduates who were killed while in the Armed Forces were unveiled at a ceremony before the School Board meeting. The plaques, which were installed outside the Hamilton library, were unveiled as family and friends of Michael Wilson and Michael Jankowski remembered the men. Wilson graduated in 1966 and was killed in the Viet Nam war. Jankowski graduated in 1987 and died in a field operation.

Students show writing-technology work
Elementary school students of writing-technology teachers Beth Flehmer, Sue Ladd, Terri Manske and Julie Smith showed School Board members, administrators and parents some of the software they use in school. As students operated the computers in the high school library computer lab, writing-technology staff described the work they do with students who are motivated to learn about technology.

Handbooks, plans approved
It was a night of document approval at the School Board meeting. Handbooks were approved that covered elementary, middle school and high schools and the National Honor Society. In addition, the emergency nursing and bloodborne pathogens plans were OK’d.

Board approves raises
School Board members approved salary and benefit package increases for several employee groups. A three-year agreement was reached with administrative assistants that will provide a package increase of 3.8 percent in the first two years and 3.98 percent in year three. Confidential support staff will receive a 3.99 percent and administrators will receive 3.8 percent total aggregate salary and benefit increases for the 2007-08 school year.

Personnel business
In other personnel business, the School Board appointed:

  • Cynthia Stemper as the new half-time associate principal at Woodside;
  • Laura Jennaro as a Templeton seventh grade teacher; and
  • Heather Krisman as the Public Information Office administrative assistant.