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January 3, 2012

Additions proposed to address enrollment needs

The Hamilton School District is bucking trends expected during difficult economic times – it continues to see steady enrollment growth, with the impact on some schools greater than others. School Board members took a look at enrollment trends that show while the middle school has experienced several years of enrollment growth and stretched Templeton to its capacity, future classes will be smaller. Maple Avenue and Lannon elementary schools, Willow Springs Learning Center and Hamilton High School have sufficient space for their enrollments.

Woodside and Marcy elementary schools, however, are in need of additional classroom space. Woodside will lose its temporary four-classroom unit in 2014 when its municipal permit expires after eight years. Marcy, with the fastest-growing attendance area in the district, is already facing space shortages. Both elementary schools have had to reconfigure space, using rooms for purposes not originally intended.

Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bryan Ruud presented options including doing nothing, redistricting students and building a new school. The preferred solution he presented was to construct classroom and multipurpose room additions at Woodside and Marcy. Rather than going to referendum, the projects would be financed through the district operational maintenance budget and reserve fund balance with no increase in taxes.

The Woodside project would include:

–          five-classroom addition that would replace four classrooms lost when the portable unit is no longer available and one additional room;

–          multi-purpose room to meet gym and band needs; and

–          additional restrooms to meet building code.

The Marcy project would entail:

–          creation a multi-purpose room for conference areas and individual and small-group services by bumping out two existing classrooms;

–          six-classroom addition; and

–          additional restroom to meet building code.

Each project is estimated to cost about $2 million. Ruud said the concept will be presented to the Facility Advisory Committee on Jan. 11 for its reaction and then brought before the School Board for a decision as early as Jan. 16. If drawings could be completed, Ruud said the district may be able to take advantage of a favorable environment for bidding the projects. Timing of the projects would depend on results of bidding. If the projects were staggered, Woodside would be constructed first because of the deadline to remove the relocatable by 2014. The projects could be attempted simultaneously if bids were favorable.

School Board member Lynn Kristensen said the funding the building project with operational and fund balance is a good solution for taxpayers and students.

“There is no way we can think about a referendum in this economy, and we can’t leave things as they are,” Kristensen said. “I think this is an extremely viable way to go and certainly is not going overboard.”

She noted that she would like to see the fund balance refunded quickly.Because the district receives tax disbursements from municipalities only twice a year, the fund balance allows the district to continue paying bills without taking out a short-term borrow between the disbursements. If the fund balance were drawn down, the district would need to monitor and plan when large payments would be made during the two years of the construction projects.

Hamilton students to get more course options

Revisions in the Hamilton High School Course Catalog reveal some big developments in store for next year that include offering of Mandarin as a world language, adding two more classes as blended instruction and meeting fitness education and health requirements in new ways.

Hamilton students will have the choice to take Mandarin I as a result of a partnership with Elmbrook School District. The course will use blended on-line and face-to-face instruction. Students will do much of the coursework using the web and computer instruction with some in-class instruction taking place.

“Advanced Algebra” and “Global Issues” will be added to “Multi-Genre Reading and Writing” as high school courses using blended instruction.

Incoming sophomores who successfully completed an entire WIAA-sanctioned high school activity as freshmen are able to receive half of a fitness education credit if they enroll in a half-credit social studies, communication arts, science or mathematics course. Sophomores are required to take a half-credit of health which they may earn during a six-week summer school course or by taking the regular health half-credit as a sophomore while completing the half-credit of social studies, communication arts, science or mathematics online. Traditional “Fitness 10” will continue to be offered to sophomores.

Marcy site plan approved

Principal Michele Trawicki reported on Marcy Elementary School’s Site Plan. The site plan includes the three tactics that were updated this year:

  • Marcy staff will help students attain the highest levels of achievement by collaborative goal-setting, excellent instruction, progress monitoring and self-reflection;
  • The Marcy community will actively embrace the Marcy School vision through the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS); and
  • Through the creative and efficient allocation of resources, student achievement will increase.

School Board members complimented Marcy staff for making the school a great place for kids. School Board member Deborah Briggs said it was exciting to see the impact of PBIS.

EME program provides services for students

Educational Services and Human Resource Director John Roubik reported on progress of the Early Mathematics Empowerment (EME) program that was initiated in the 2004-05 school year. Along with him were three of the four EME teachers.

EME is designed to serve first- and second-graders throughout the school year and kindergartners during second semester with additional mathematics instruction, focusing on number concepts and number sense.

The program, which is staff by four full-time teachers and several part-time paraprofessionals, provided mathematic intervention last year for 21 percent of first-graders and 12 percent of second-graders. About 91 percent of the students served made significant gain in mathematical achievement. The gains refer to the child’s ability to move from one stage to another.

Lannon EME teacher Nancy Lorenz noted that while the program started as an intervention for first- and second-grade students, older elementary students are now served as well, and the EME teacher serve as a resource for other teachers, providing units for classroom differentiation and staff development.

Personnel news

In personnel business, the School Board appointed Kristin Feucht as a district client support technician in the Information Technology Department.