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October 20, 2014

Tax rate less than projected at Annual Meeting

School Board members approved a $55.03 million budget that includes a mil rate of $9.76 per $1,000 of property. For each $100,000 of property citizens own, they will pay $976 in property taxes to support the school district. The mil rate is 52 cents less than school officials projected at the Annual Meeting in June and 44 cents less than the rate from last year.

The total budget increased 3.83 percent — due in part to the cost of educating 32 more students.

The lower-than-expected mil rate is attributable to community growth and higher property values that spread school costs over more and higher-valued properties. The district’s equalized valuation increased by 5.78 percent in the past year. State aid also increased by 1.69 percent.

The net tax levy — the portion of the budget paid by local taxpayers — increased to $29.46 million from $29.08 million in 2013-14.

Each October, the School Board must adopt the budget, certify the tax levy and establish the tax rate after the Department of Revenue determines property values in the district. Tax bills are sent to property owners in December.

District holds Chapter 220, Open Enrollment numbers

The number of seats available for students to enroll in the district through the Chapter 220 will remain at 110 students and no new Open Enrollment students are recommended for the 2015-16 school year. The School Board voted to maintain the number of students in the Chapter 220 Program contingent on continued full funding from the state.

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 number of incoming seats has been limited in the past several years because of space availability.

Board approves Youth Options requests

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, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Mount Mary, Marquette University and Carroll University. 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 13 students requested admission to Youth Options last year.

Youth Options is a program mandated by the state that allows students who have completed tenth 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.

Woodside, Templeton site plans approved

Woodside Elementary School Site Plan team met Aug. 15 to review and revise its plan for maximizing success for each student. Principal James Edmond, Ph.D., and Associate Principal Linda Hake, described the school’s work in achieving its goals.

New Woodside tactics state that, using 2014 MAP scores, it will increase the percentage of students who meet or exceed their projected growth targets by 3 percent in reading and mathematics.

Using an approach that was initiated last year, all four of the district’s elementary schools gathered to share updates on their current plan, new data and ideas to design their own unique plan. A team of elementary staff from throughout the district met Aug. 15 to review the district’s new tactical plan and then looked at their own building data to craft site plans for the rest of the year.

School Board member Gerald Schmitz commended the elementary schools for collaborating.
Edmond said the collaborative goal-setting will ensure that a student could attend any elementary school in the district without noticing an academic difference in the educational program.

Presenting results from Templeton Middle School’s site planning process for the first time, Principal Paul Mielke, Ph.D., outlined the work of the 15-member planning team. Templeton developed two tactics as part of its Oct. 7 site planning meeting:

  • Students will engage in authentic reading and writing within classes to promote critical literacy, a combination of critical thinking and literacy skills; and
  • Staff will analyze current structure and schedule to determine if changes are needed to maximize student achievement and growth potential.

Mielke said Templeton staff will be guided by questions as they evaluate the school’s progress: What will teachers do differently and how will teaching change? What will students do differently and to what extent do we expect making the changes to impact student learning?

Enrollment up by 32 students

The district picked up an additional 32 students with the start of the school year. Enrollment districtwide is at 4,680 students – an all-time high. School enrollments compared to last year were:
School         2013-14      2014-15
Willow          271            252
Lannon         276            289
Maple          462            442
Marcy          574            582
Woodside     644           656
Templeton   1,053         1,047
Hamilton     1,368         1,412
District       4,648         4,680

School facilities projects completed during summer

Summer was a busy time for maintenance and custodial staff as they prepared 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 asphalt patching and striping, locker replacement, landscaping, painting, chiller coil cleaning. Grove noted that an increasing number of projects completed by outside contractors in the past are now being handled by existing staff, saving the district money.

School Board member Gerald Schmitz appreciated the work of staff.

“I think it’s great that 50 percent of the jobs (on the summer project list) are being completed in-house and it really pays off for us,” Schmitz said.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., credited Grove for providing the training, resources and high expectations that allowed staff members to complete the projects.

Educational Services team reports on priorities

Three Educational Services administrators reported on accomplishments of the past year and priorities for the coming year. Human Resources and Organizational Development Director John Roubik, Instructional Services Supervisor Katherine Little, Ph.D., and Special Services Supervisor John Peterson updated the School Board on work of the department. They covered numerous initiatives regarding strategic planning, curriculum development, professional development, special education assessment, Response to Intervention, personalized and differentiated instruction, benchmark literacy and employee compensation.

Personnel business

In personnel news, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Willow Springs administrative assistant Susan Steldt and Maple Avenue assistant cook Grace Norton; and
  • appointed Melissa Hartung as a Maple Avenue paraprofessional, funded through federal Title I program.