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October 17, 2016

Tax rate drops 7.18 percent

School Board members approved a $53.9 million 2016-17 budget that includes a mil rate of $8.92 per $1,000 of property. For each $100,000 of property citizens own, they will pay $892 in property taxes to support the school district. The mil rate is 69 cents less than the rate from last year.

The total budget decreased 3.59 percent — due in part because the budget does not include spending for construction projects as it has in past years. Budgets in the past four years have included expenses for Marcy, Woodside and Hamilton classroom additions and the Hamilton Athletic Center.

The draft budget presented this summer assumed enrollment would drop. Instead it was up 30 students. In addition, the district’s equalized valuation increased by 4.86 percent and state aid increased 7.56 percent, both more than predicted in the draft budget.

As a result, the gross tax levy — the portion of the budget paid by local taxpayers — decreased to $28.8 million from $29.6 million in 2015-16.

“This is all good news,” said Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bryan Ruud. “There is nothing here that is a negative story to tell.”

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.

Board approves Youth Options requests

A total of 28 high school students requested admission to the Youth Options Program that will allow them to take classes next semester at Waukesha County Technical College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Mount Mary, Carroll University and the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, Milwaukee and Washington County. 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 27 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.

Maple Avenue site plan reported

Maple Avenue Elementary School Principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin reported on the school’s site planning process. As they have for the past three years, the district’s four elementary school principals convened with leadership teams in August to develop building plans that align with the district’s strategic tactical plans. All schools developed a literacy goal and one other tactic. Maple Avenue’s team acknowledged accomplishments in the past year which include:

  • 100 percent of kindergartners exceeded PALS end-of-year benchmarks;
  • Grades 3 and 5 English language arts and grade 4 social studies Forward Exam scores were highest in the district;
  • An increase in the percentage of K-5 students at all levels who met core grade level reading expectations;
  • All classrooms showed positive growth in comprehension measured by the Benchmark Literacy Comprehension Strategy Assessment; and
  • Disaggregated groups met or exceeded the district Measures of Academic Progress average for reading and mathematics for all sub-groups except students with disabilities.

The team developed two tactics for the new year that indicates staff will research and implement literacy strategies for all targeted groups to ensure closing the achievement gap and align with the district’s literacy beliefs and allow for student monitoring through personalized learning initiatives.

AODA measures in place to help families

Student Assistance Program and AODA Coordinator Kristin Hasbrook presented an annual report to School Board members about efforts to keep students from getting involved in alcohol and other drugs. Providing initial screening and AODA referral services, helping families find appropriate community services and conducting activities in the schools were among the activities in the past year.

Middle and high school activities include facilitation of a support group for high school girls dealing with anxiety, individual student support, training of peer trainers for health presentations, guidance lessons about drugs and alcohol, and presentations to students about depression, harassment, bullying and internet safety. Districtwide activities include coordination of Hamilton Connects, a program that features presentations for parents throughout the year. In addition, Hasbrook completed a suicide intervention program and shared information with school counselors. The district is also involved with the REDgen program that offers training and support to help reduce suicide and student mental health issues.

Curriculum alignment, articulation, vertical teaming report given

Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., reported on curriculum alignment, articulation and vertical teaming initiatives in the district. She noted that alignment and articulation are keys to ensuring that curriculum and instruction are sequenced across grades so that learning can progress in a seamless manner as students move from grade to grade and course to course. Alignment and articulation activities occur in a variety of models and formats.

The following areas, which continue the emphasis begun with the strategic plan, will be addressed during the 2016-17 school year:

  • Curriculum and related professional learning
    • The curriculum process will continue to include identifying essential (overall) learning targets and associated student “I can…” statements for each unit of instruction. Guidance, family & consumer education, K-5 science, and middle school mathematics, will be reviewed. In addition, applied engineering will begin to outline a proposal to strengthen curriculum relevance and articulation. That work is scheduled for completion during the 2017-18 school year.
    • The Personalizing Learning Team will lead the implementation of strategies for conferring with students. In addition, the team is participating in four concurrent book studies to help shape the next steps for instruction.
      The district requires teachers of grades K-2 and special education teachers to receive Early Reading Recovery certification and maintain their skills through professional learning opportunities to support core and interventional literacy instruction. In an effort to provide flexibility for teacher professional development, ERE training is being offered in an online learning environment. Teachers will participate in three learning modules during the first semester.
    • The upgrade to Everyday Math 4 is in its first year of implementation. Teachers are being provided collaboration time to investigate and apply the extensive online resources. Grades 6-8 is pilot testing mathematics resources designed to increase engagement with a focus on authentic application of math practices.
    • Access to technology is a strategic priority across all grade levels. Educational Services is holding feedback sessions with representative teachers to develop a deep understanding of the technology needs for each grade band. Professional learning opportunities will be developed to match teacher needs and support appropriate integration into classroom instruction.
  • Instructional leaders meet on a monthly basis to plan for vertical teaming and strengthen leadership skills. Instructional leaders are growing their skills by participating in a book study on “Thanks for the Feedback.” In addition, they act as a conduit between district administration and teachers to discuss and disseminate information about current matters within the district and state public education. Standing agenda items include building updates, district updates and an open forum to discuss other areas of teachers’ interest or need.
    • Each vertical team will develop a goal and action plan Feb. 10 that is specific to strengthening content instructional practices. Action plan focus tends to fit in the categories of strategy identification and development, common assessments, common procedural practices, resource study and effective use.
    • Vertical teaming is designed to build rigorous curricula; introduce skills, concepts, and assessment methods to prepare students for success in challenging courses; strengthen curriculum and increase the academic challenge for all students; increase cross-school curricular and instructional communication.
  • Response to Intervention-the district continues to use the RtI model to meet the needs of individual students.
    • Comprehensive Intervention Model-an intervention consisting of five components for the various aspects of literacy development. Teachers will receive training for Comprehensive Focus Groups for students in grades 3-8, Interactive Writing for students in early childhood through grade 2, and Writing Aloud for students in grades 2-8.
    • The district is continuing to work with the developer of the Ion software to track student progress in an efficient manner and use the data to inform instruction.

Educational Services reports on priorities

Educational Services administrators John Roubik and Katie Little, Ph.D. updated the School Board on work of the department. They noted that district performance continues to significantly exceed expectations on statewide benchmarks. Many Educational Services initiatives have helped drive the district’s success. Accomplishments in 2015-16 include:

  • developed, implemented and monitored the district’s strategic tactics in personalizing and differentiated instruction, data analysis and progress monitoring, and research and professional development;
  • developed 6-12 communication arts, information technology literacy and K-5 and 9-12 mathematics;
  • monitored and assessed the implementation of the Benchmark Literacy curriculum;
  • monitored and assessed the implementation of the “Being a Writer” curriculum;
  • conducted training for the Comprehensive Intervention Model (Guided Reading Plus, Comprehension Focus Groups);
  • investigated and developed recommendations for closing the achievement gap, including aligning special and regular education resources to best meet the needs of students;
  • designed and monitored recommendations for employee compensation;
  • designed a proposal and gained School Board approval for an instructional coaching model to support instructional practices;
  • designed a proposal and gained School Board approval to increase the staffing levels of literacy interventionists at the elementary and middle schools; and
  • implemented ION software districtwide to progress monitor student interventions.

Educational Services’ priorities for 2016-17 will be to:

  • develop, implement and monitor the district’s strategic tactics in personalizing and differentiated instruction, data analysis and progress monitoring, access to technology and enrollment and space capacity analysis;
  • develop curriculum in 6-12 family and consumer services, K-12 guidance, K-5 science, 6-8 mathematics and applied engineering and technology initial planning;
  • implement instructional coaching;
  • implement literacy interventionist model;
  • facilitate vertical teaming initiative;
  • facilitate new teacher orientation and coaching model;
  • provide PREPaRE training and districtwide implementation for responding to student crises;
  • monitor and assess Everyday Math 4 curriculum implementation;
  • develop and monitor Academic and Career Planning and Career Cruising plan implementation;
  • increase staff preparation to further integrate technology in the classroom;
  • conduct training for additional components of the Comprehensive Intervention Model (Writing Interventions);
  • align literacy training and interventionist professional development;
  • investigate social-emotional learning and behavioral practices under the RtI framework;
  • investigate and plan for 18-21 year old community-based programming for our students with intellectual, daily living, and vocational needs;
  • design and implement the process of using the OASYS technology platform for our student 504 Plans;
  • integrate our assessment data into the Infinite Campus system; and
  • ivestigate and plan for the integration of the Human Resources and Business Department databases.