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October 16, 2017

Tax rate drops for sixth consecutive year

The Hamilton School Board approved the 2017-18 budget that marks the sixth consecutive year that the school district mil rate has dropped. The $55.3 million budget includes a mil rate of $8.55 per $1,000 of property, which is 37 cents less than last year’s rate and $1.85 less than what it was in 2012. In December, residents will pay $855 for each $100,000 of property they own, compared to $892 in 2016 and $1,040 in 2012.Tax-rate-since-2012

“The mil rate is down and it’s not a one-year flash in the pan,” said Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bryan Ruud. “Since the ’12-13 school year our mil rate is down $1.85.”

The budget increased 2.52 percent, but an increase in student enrollment, state aid and property values all factored into the mil rate drop — providing lower school property taxes. The draft budget presented this summer assumed enrollment would increase by 25 students. Instead it was up 144 students. In addition, the district’s equalized valuation increased by 4.33 percent and state aid increased 7.3 percent, both more than predicted in the draft budget.

In addition, district debt decreased by $280,050 as school construction bonds from the 1990s and early 2000s are paid off.

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 hits all-time high enrollment

Enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is 4,860, an all-time high for the Hamilton School District. A total of 144 additional students enrolled in the district, according to a report that lists official third Friday in September enrollment counts shared with the state Department of Public Instruction.

All schools except for Willow Springs Learning Center, which had 27 fewer students than last year, saw an enrollment bump. Templeton Middle School had the largest gain with 47 additional students, then Woodside Elementary with 35, Marcy Elementary with 29, Maple Avenue Elementary with 27, Lannon Elementary with 19 and Hamilton High with 14.

Hamilton enters fourth year of Dual Enrollment Academy

Hamilton High School seniors will continue to be able to enroll in the Dual Enrollment Academy that allows them to get a jumpstart on high-demand fields while earning college credit at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC). Hamilton Principal Candis Mongan gave the School Board a status report and requested approval to continue participation in the program.

Participating seniors spend the majority of their school day at WCTC participating in the Dual Enrollment Academy which offers programs in robotics, hospitality, information technology, tool and die, protective services, building construction and welding. Upon completion, students earn a WCTC diploma along with high school credits.

2017-18 will be the fourth year Hamilton has participated in the academy. Seven Hamilton students completed the program last May — three in robotics and one each in hospitality, information technology, tool and die, and welding. Another seven students are enrolled in the academy this year.

Board approves Youth Options requests

A total of 18 high school students requested admission to the Youth Options Program that will allow them to take classes next semester at Waukesha County Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha 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 28 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.

MacCudden presents first site plan report as principal

Willow Springs Learning Center Principal Renae MacCudden, Ph.D, gave her first site plan report since becoming principal this summer. The site plan identifies an over-arching target that states that “students will be enriched in a unique, well-defined and articulated four-year-old kindergarten program.”

In 2016-17, Willow Springs staff worked collaboratively to investigate new curricula, create meaningful activities for students that help foster social-emotional development, utilize iPad technology, and analyze PALS and other pre-academic data to influence teaching decisions.

In the coming year the school’s two tactics will:

  • address students’ social-emotional skills and understanding of their individual role as a learner; and
  • develop pre-academic literacy and mathematics skills.

Maple Avenue site plan reported

Maple Avenue Elementary School Principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin reported on the school’s site plan. The site team analyzed progress of the previous year that included earning the “significantly exceeds expectations” on the State Report Card and making measurable progress on a variety of assessments.

Because Maple Avenue has made greater progress in mathematics compared to reading, staff plan to build on previous years’ success and adjust its over-arching goal to focus on student reading skills.

Staff will work on two tactics in which they will research and implement:

  • literacy instruction and assessment best practices; and
  • strategies to support social and emotional development to close the achievement gap.

Maintenance staff address summer projects

Over the summer, maintenance and custodial staff completed the annual task of preparing school facilities for the upcoming school year. This work included maintenance on mechanical systems, the cleaning of classrooms, restrooms, locker and shower areas, stripping and refinishing of floors, refinishing wood gymnasium floors, carpet cleaning and the maintenance of the grounds and athletic fields throughout the district. In addition to these annually scheduled tasks, the School Board was presented with a list summarizing special projects completed at each school.

Personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the appointment of Zackary Buschke as a part-time custodian at Marcy Elementary School;
  • granted the retirement of Templeton associate kitchen employee Mary Jo Liermann; and
  • accepted the resignation of Templeton associate kitchen employee Barbara Black.