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October 20, 2008

School Board approves budget, tax levy
The Hamilton School District’s 2008-09 budget will be $47.16 million, which is a 4.45 percent increase over last year. Hamilton School Board members approved the $27.54 million levy. The mill rate will be $9.29, which reflects a 9.1 percent increase.

The tax rate is increasing at a higher rate than actual spending because the district is losing $1.1 million in state aid, a 5.39 percent decrease over 2007-08. In addition property valuation as determined by the state Department of Revenue increased only 2.58 percent. In the last 10 years the district has experienced annual property value increases of eight to 10 percent. Higher property valuation lowers the mill rate.

Hamilton will experience a decrease in state aid despite the fact that district enrollment is up. The state Legislature failed to put new state aid into the budget for the past two years. Instead, state money was put into the tax levy credit, a move that benefits the state’s wealthier communities versus incorporating the funds into the school state aid formula.

Although Hamilton’s tax rate has increased, it is consistent with neighboring districts. Prior to this year, the district tax rate fell 12 of the last 14 years. With this year’s 78 cent increase in the mill rate, Hamilton’s tax rate will return to the 2006 level.

School facilities projects completed during summer
Summer may be a time for vacation for some students and employees, but for the maintenance and custodial staff, it’s a time to prepare facilities for the coming school year.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Jeffrey Grove provided School Board members with an exhaustive list of projects accomplished at each school that included items such as maintenance on mechanical systems, floor refinishing, painting, roof replacements and outdoor projects. The summer’s most notable projects were remodeling of the high school’s main gymnasium, locker rooms and restrooms. In addition, the high school guidance office was remodeled and the baseball field was renovated.

The projects were completed before the start of school despite an ever-increasing use of the high school throughout the year and growing summer school program, according to the report.

School Board member Michael Hyland said the amount of work done at the high school over the summer was phenomenal.

District holds Chapter 220, Open Enrollment numbers
The number of seats available for students to enroll in the district though the Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment programs will be the same in 2009-10 as current levels.

Chapter 220 is a voluntary integration program that brings Milwaukee Public Schools students to suburban districts. The Open Enrollment Program allows students to attend school in other districts if space allows. The School Board voted to maintain 110 seats for Chapter 220 and 62 seats for Open Enrollment at schools that can handle additional students.

While increasing the numbers could bring additional revenue, the district is cautious about increasing enrollment because some schools are nearing or past intended capacity.

Nonproficient students get intervention through various programs
Students who do not reach proficiency levels on standardized assessments get support from a host of programs and interventions at all grade levels. Educational Services and Human Resources Director John Roubik outlined the measures that are taken to help all students reach success.

The high school offers: Club Success, Empower Academy, English Language Learner (ELL) support, Freshman Seminar, Guided Academic Practice, Gateway to HHS, Math Advantage, Portable Assisted Study Sequence and Proficiency Portfolio Advisement.

Templeton has Content Mastery, ELL support, Gateway to TMS, summer school invitational for reading and math, promotional summer school, Reading Resource, Student Training for Academic Responsibility (STAR) Math, Study Center, Success Club and afterschool homework support.

Elementary schools have before- and afterschool tutorial, Early Reading Empowerment, Early Mathematics Empowerment, ELL support, summer school invitational for reading and math, Title I services and writing support.

Youth Options requests approved
A total of 19 high school students requested admission to the Youth Options Program that will allow them to take classes next semester at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and Milwaukee, Waukesha County Technical College and Wisconsin Lutheran College. Hamilton Principal Candis Mongan noted, as in the past, many students will not be able to take the courses because of scheduling conflicts or full classes. A total of 28 students requested admission to Youth Options last year.

Youth Options is a program mandated by the state that allows students who have completed 10th grade, are in good academic standing and have no disciplinary problems to attend a technical college or university if they have exhausted their high school curriculum.