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January 16, 2012

Board approves work with architects to start bid process for school additions

Hamilton School Board members gave administrators approval to work with outside firms to help the district determine design-build services needed for two construction projects. The action authorized work with architectural firm Plunkett Raysich and development of a contract with construction management company J.P. Cullen in preparation for bidding Woodside and Marcy elementary schools’ additions. The School Board will take final action on the project when the bids come in this spring.

At its Jan. 3 meeting, the School Board reviewed administrators’ recommendation to ease crowding. Woodside – built to house 600 students and currently with an enrollment of 674 – will lose its temporary four-classroom unit in 2014 when its municipal permit expires. At 525 students, Marcy is beyond its 500-student capacity and is the fastest-growing attendance area in the district. Both elementary schools have reconfigured space, using rooms for purposes not originally intended.

The Woodside project includes a five-classroom addition to replace the portable unit and a multi-purpose room to meet gym and band needs for the growing school. Marcy would see a six-classroom addition and expansion of an area that currently houses two classrooms to create a multi-purpose room for conference areas and individual and small-group services. Both schools would provide additional restrooms to meet municipal codes.

Each project is expected to cost about $2 million. School leaders believe the current economy could produce favorable bids because construction companies may be hungry for work. To get the process started, the board authorized spending $232,000 for the architectural work and development of a construction management contract.

Prior to its action Monday, the School Board sought input from the community Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) which met Jan. 11 and endorsed the plan. A variety of community members including parents, retirees, local business owners, staff and municipal representatives comprise FAC. Members voiced support for the plan that addresses immediate space needs without going to referendum and impacting the community with the associated taxes.

Under the two-year plan, one portion of funding will come from the maintenance budget, which typically funds year-end capital improvements such as roofing and asphalt projects or HVAC equipment replacement. In addition, funds will be taken from the district’s fund balance each year. Because municipalities collect property taxes and disburse payments to the school district two times during the year, having sufficient funds in the Fund Balance allows the district to have a positive cash flow throughout the year and avoid short-term borrowing. This saves the district significant money each year avoiding interest costs and attorneys’ fees that would be needed to take out loans. In the two years that money from the Fund Balance will be used for the school additions, the district will carefully time when payments are made from the account so that it does not draw down too far

Parameters set for 2012-13 calendar

School Board members approved parameters for administrators to use in developing the 2012-13 school calendar.  In the past, calendars were negotiated between the School Board and teachers’ association. With implementation of Wisconsin Act 10 last year, establishing the calendar can no longer be negotiated. Instead, using parameters established by the board, administrators will develop a draft calendar and gather input from parent groups and instructional leaders. The School Board is expected to take final action on a calendar in March.

The parameters include having 180 student contact days, 192 teacher contract days, traditional break periods, early release days for professional development, days for teachers to prepare and close out their classrooms and parent-teacher conferences. School districts are prohibited from starting classes before Sept. 1, which falls on a Saturday in 2012, putting Labor Day on Sept. 3. With the start of classes on Sept. 4, the potential for school extending into the second week of June is likely.

School Board member Michael Hyland asked if the district was considering extending the number of student contact days as some other school districts have.  Human Resources and Organizational Development Director John Roubik said adding student-contact days was not under serious consideration because the district values having professional development for staff members. In the current calendar, only nine days are devoted to professional development.

School Board President Gabe Kolesari said he favored keeping staff development time in place. He said as long as the district was meeting state statutes for days of instruction, he did not want to make drastic changes. Roubik said the district meets state requirements for number of days and exceeds minutes of instruction.

Woodside presents site plan progress

Woodside Principal James Edmond, Jr., and Associate Principal Linda Hake presented the final update of their school’s site plan. Two tactics indicated that students will:

  • experience social and emotional growth leading to academic success through the strong and nurturing relationship established among all students, staff and families; and
  • demonstrate confidence and academic success when they engage in classroom instruction based on best practice; students who continue to struggle will achieve success through differentiated instruction and intervention to meet their individual needs in mathematics and literacy.

Edmond described progress made through intervention strategies and social programs stemming from each of the tactics. Hake provided student achievement data.

After retiring the existing site plan tactics, the school’s site planning team identified two new tactics that indicate the school will:

  • use data to plan, implement and evaluate the effective use of Response to Intervention (RtI) tools and practices to meet the needs of all students; and
  • integrate collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity into daily instruction and monitor growth using rubrics.

Teams will form this spring to address each tactic.

Personnel news

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • appointed Kira Cerroni as food service manager effective March 1 and Lisa Boucher as Marcy special services paraprofessional effective Jan. 16; and
  • accepted the resignation of Woodside second grade teacher Lisa Dittbrenner-Kolz effective June 8.