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May 18, 2009

Details on federal stimulus funds still coming
The Hamilton School Board has some general information about how federal stimulus money can be used, but there are still many unanswered questions as to how it will help the district.

Wisconsin has received $208 million to be used for special education support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Based on special education enrollment, Hamilton is expected to receive $900, 048 in special education allocations and $42,554 in preschool allocation, according to a report submitted by Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman.

The funds, which are to be used by Sept. 30, 2011, and come with multiple levels of accountability and requirements. For example, if the district uses 35-50 percent of the allocation to reduce special education costs, it must ensure that the same level of services continues after the federal funds are gone. In additional approximately $50,000 must be allocated to serve children whose parents placed them in private schools.

School officials are looking at ways to spend the money on one-time expenditures that will have a long-term impact. For example, items that are being considered are supplies, materials, training and technology that will support special education students. A specific list of items to be included in the grant application will be provided to the School Board at a later date.

State deficit affects Hamilton budget
The School Board did what it normally does at its second meeting in May – approved a budget – but this time it did so with a major string attached. The board approved a $48.8 million budget for the 2009-10 school year based on state aid projections made in the spring, but the approval is subject to change because of concern that the state will be unable afford that level of aid.

Wisconsin is facing a nearly $7 billion deficit – far greater than original projections. Because 40 percent of the state budget goes to support K-12 education throughout Wisconsin, many believe the state aid projections provided this spring will be significantly reduced. The School Board also voted to postpone its Annual Meeting from its original date of June 15 until the district has more reliable information.

“We don’t have near enough information to go forward with an annual meeting at this point,” Superintendent Kathleen Cooke said.

Despite the lack of information, the board needed to pass a budget so that the district could operate summer school and purchase time-sensitive material during the summer.

Two assistant principals hired
The Hamilton School Board approved the appointments of two open associate principal positions – one at elementary and the other at the secondary level – at its May 18 regular meeting.

Keith Nerby was appointed to serve at Hamilton High School, and Tara Villalobos was chosen for Woodside Elementary School. Both will begin their positions effective at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.

Nerby replaces Craig Brimacombe who will become principal at Jefferson High School. Villalobos fills a half-time position at Woodside. She replaces Cynthia Stemper who will return to full-time teaching.

“We are pleased to be able to hire two experienced associate principals,” Hamilton Superintendent Kathleen Cooke said. “Their child advocacy, instructional leadership abilities and human relations skills set them apart from other candidates.”

For the past year, Nerby was the dean of students and activities director at Beloit Memorial High School. In that position, he was responsible for the Freshmen Academy structure in which he supervised 25 regular education and five special education teachers He was also responsible for the freshman-senior mentor program, discipline, class scheduling, school career fair, schoolwide activities, facility-use scheduling and hiring and evaluation of activity advisors. Before becoming an administrator, he had been business teacher and department chairperson for five years at Kenosha’s Tremper High School.

Nerby earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2003. He earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from National Louis University – Chicago in 2007.

Villalobos has been the associate principal at Nicolet Union High School since 2005. She was responsible for coordinating or supervising back-to-school activities for staff, the New Teacher Induction Program, National Honor Society and Gifted and Talented programs, science and fine arts departments, student attendance and discipline and master scheduling. She began her education at Nicolet in 2000 as a mathematics teacher. Villalobos is also an adjunct professor and coach at Concordia University where she has instructed aspiring administrators, taught a health course, assisted a mathematics course and coached football cheerleading.

Villalobos earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2000. She earned her master’s degree in education administration from Concordia University.

Retirees recognized
Six employees will retire at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Those attending the School Board’s retirement recognition were presented with a clock, citation from the state Legislature and a certificate from the Department of Public Instruction. Supervisors and colleagues provided comments that Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., read about the retirees’ outstanding contributions to the district and the field of education. This year’s retirees include:

  • Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., Instructional Services supervisor;
  • Tom Daley, Lannon Elementary School fifth grade teacher;
  • Gregory E. Hart, Lannon Elementary School head custodian;
  • Sherry Malmon, Templeton Middle School Spectrum resource teacher for gifted and talented;
  • Louise Pokorny, Maple Avenue Elementary School paraprofessional; and
  • Barbara A. Sadler, Marcy Elementary School learning disabilities teacher.

Community member, students recognized
In addition to recognition of retirees, the School Board presented its annual Community Service Award to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Waukesha County. Seniors and Students Coordinator Becky Hubred, RSVP Coordinator Sue Galkowski and Interfaith Senior Programs Executive Director Kathy Gale were presented with the award. Public Information Coordinator Denise Dorn Lindberg said RSVP was deserving of the district’s highest award because it has brought in hundreds of volunteers into the district who have supported students and staff. She noted that in the 10 years Seniors and Students has existed, senior volunteers have provided more than 25,000 hours of service with a monetary value of more than $500,000.

The board also recognized student Andrea Salus for being student board representatives in 2008-09.

Other personnel news
In other personnel news, the School Board:

  • Accepted the retirement request, effective July 31, of Marilynn Schumann, the superintendent’s executive assistant and assistant board clerk, who has served the district for 19 years;
  • Approved a leave of absence for Templeton special education teacher Melissa Neuharth for the 2009-10 school year; and
  • Approved the appointments of Jacqueline English as the Templeton gifted and talented teacher, and Justine Olson as a half-time instrumental music teacher at Hamilton School District.