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November 21, 2016

District addresses achievement gap

Hamilton School Board members took a closer look at data showing achievement gaps between majority students and those in the categories of minority, low economic status, special education and English language learners. While Hamilton fares better than other districts in many areas, academic gaps still exist. The district’s Strategic Plan has prioritized closing the achievement gap since 2008.

Data presented in a “Closing the Achievement Gap Report” from Human Resources Director John Roubik and Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., identified achievement gaps using various assessments. Key results included:

  • Compared to the state, the Hamilton School District has a lower percentage of students who are minorities (16.8 percent in Hamilton vs. 28.8 percent in Wisconsin), low socio-economic status (14.2 vs. 39.5 percent), special education (9.1 vs. 13.7 percent) and English language learners (1.4 vs. 5.4 percent).
  • While the district’s performance on state assessments is higher than the state, the gap between majority students and other subgroups is higher than the state average.
  • Hamilton’s ACT scores for all subgroups are higher than state averages, but large discrepancies are seen between most of the subgroups and their peers.
  • On Advanced Placement course testing, the district is closing the gap among minority and low socio-economic students, but special education and ELL students are under-represented or not represented at all.

Roubik and Little presented ways the district supports high quality instruction and assessment practices to ensure success for all students. Among the initiatives are participation in a consortium with other southeastern Wisconsin school districts, use of literacy software with English language learners, Title I services allocated for direct instruction at targeted schools, school site plans using building-level student data to differentiate instruction and determine intervention needed for students with large gaps, interventions matched with students to ensure greatest academic gains, interventionists who regularly meet to discuss effectiveness of current interventions and expand district options, software to monitor student progress on identified interventions, use of learner profiles to personalize instruction and professional development opportunities for staff to focus on designing strategies and learning environments to meet the needs of all learners. In addition, numerous interventions and programs are offered at the school level.

Budget timeline approved

The School Board approved a timeline that set in motion the process for 2017-18 budget. Among the significant dates of the budget timeline are:

  • Open Faculty and Staff Forum – Dec. 6 at 3:45 p.m. in the high school library;
  • Administrators complete and submit budgets for their schools and areas – Feb. 10;
  • Opportunity for community input to the budget – March 20 and April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at School Board meeting;
  • School Board approval of final budget draft – May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at School Board meeting; and
  • Annual Meeting – June 19 at approximately 7:30 p.m. – immediately following Annual Public Hearing.

McMillan reports on technology initiatives

District Information Technology Manager Ryan McMillan updated the School Board on recently completed information technology updates, upgrades and implementation. His written report informed the School Board about the focus of activities IT staff have worked that included:

  • investigating and gathering information to advance the Strategic Plan tactic of increasing access to technology;
  • integrating Infinite Campus system with the state Department of Public Instruction to streamline reporting and meet state requirements and updating the online registration system;
  • implementing software to streamline the process of managing user authentication and authorization from Infinite Campus to Active Directory-Google Apps for Education;
  • adding wireless networks in all schools;
  • testing Windows 10 in high school business lab for rollout across the district;
  • facilitating the numerous online tests including ACT Aspire, Forward Exam, Measures of Academic Progress and others;
  • replacing and installing more than 500 desktop, laptop and Chromebook computers as part of the district’s computer rotation cycle; and
  • resolving more than 4,000 HelpDesk trouble tickets from staff.

Cocurricular activities report given

High school students participated in 25 interscholastic sports, 60 teams and 43 student activities in 2015-16. Combined, 86 coaches and 61 activity advisors were employed to lead these opportunities for students, according to a report given by Hamilton Athletic-Activities Director Mike Gosz.

New during the year was the development and use of additional softball, baseball and youth soccer fields, thanks to the financial support from the family that owns Halquist Stone Company.

The high school continued implementation of the Charger Way Character Matters program for all student athletes.

Gosz said future projects could include working with the athletic booster club to construct a new concession stand on Grove Field when fundraising targets are met, replacing the existing backstop and adding netting to the baseball field and exploring other sports facility projects including replacement of fencing, softball field scoreboard, baseball field turf and tennis and track relining. Hamilton will continue to review athletic and activity offerings to meet the requests of families and monitor athlete specialization and off-season programs.

Personnel action

In personnel action, the School Board

  • approved hiring of four associate kitchen empoyees, Heidi Hopfinger at Marcy, Renee Brosig at Templeton, and Karen Figarino and Julia Savatski at Woodside;
  • appointed April Elsesser as a Templeton special services paraprofessional; and
  • authorized hiring an additional part-time staff member at Lannon to address increased class size.