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October 15, 2018

School tax increase less than half of what was projected

When Hamilton School District voters went to the polls in February, they expected to be voting themselves a 98 cent increase in their tax rate to pay for a new intermediate school and Hamilton High School renovation and expansion projects. Instead, the tax rate will increase only 37 cents.Tax-Impact-Less

The good news for taxpayers came Oct. 15 as Hamilton School Board members approved a $57.4 million budget that includes a mil rate of $8.92 – instead of $9.55 that was predicted at the July Annual Meeting. The owner of a $300,000 home will pay $2,676 in school taxes – an increase of $111 over last year’s taxes, but less than the $300 increase that was projected.

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 and increased state aid. During the referendum, school officials conservatively estimated that property value would increase by only 2 percent. The district’s equalized valuation actually increased by 4.67 percent in the past year.

When the intermediate school opens in the 2019-20 school year, additional operational costs will be on tax bills. The operational costs were expected to increase the tax rate by an additional 39 cents per $1,000 of property value, but if property valuation exceeds projections, that amount will be less as well.

The 2018-19 budget is up 3.92 percent increase over the current budget. The increase reflects expenses due to increased cost-of-living as determined by the state.

The new net tax levy — the portion of the budget paid by local taxpayers — increased to $31.5 million from $28.8 million in 2017-18. Debt service increased from $668,450 in 2017-18 to $4.2 million in 2018-19.

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.

Dual Enrollment Academy gives students jumpstart on future

For the fifth year, 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.

Seven Hamilton students completed the program last May — three in hospitality, two in information technology and one each in automation systems and tool and die.

10 students apply for Early College Credit Program

Ten high school students requested admission to the Early College Credit Program (ECCP), formerly known as the Youth Options Program, that will allow them to take classes next semester at University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Wisconsin Lutheran 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 18 students requested admission to Youth Options last year.

ECCP is mandated by the state and allows students who have completed 10th 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.

The program is funded 75 percent from Hamilton High School and 25 percent from the state.

Start College Now has 25 applicants

Another program, Start College Now, had its start as Youth Options. Start College Now allows students with good academic standing and no disciplinary problems to take course at Waukesha County Technical College. A total of 25 students requested admission for the next semester. The program is funded by the high school, but if a student fails the course, the family is responsible for the cost.

Willow Springs site plan approved

Willow Springs Learning Center Principal Renae MacCudden, Ph.D, presented her school’s 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 2017-18, Willow Springs staff implemented surveys to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide honest, anonymous feedback.

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.

Templeton site plan presented

Templeton Principal Brad Hoffmann and Associate Principal Cody Leland presented their school’s site plan. The process used to create the plan was highly reflective and collaborative in nature. Longitudinal and current data was reviewed and analyzed to create a plan that focuses on literacy, math and social-emotional wellness throughout the building.

The Site Plan committee developed the following two tactics:

  • Templeton Middle School staff will research best practice in assessment and developing instructional strategies to increase achievement for all students.
  • Templeton Middle School will research and develop building-wide and classroom-specific strategies to improve student social-emotional wellness.

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:

  • accepted the resignation of Marcy special services paraprofessional Veronica Seher, effective Oct. 19;
  • approved the retirement of Woodside media center paraprofessional Sally Thompson, effective Nov. 2, 2018; and
  • appointed Jessica Samz as Hamilton cook, Amy Olsen as Woodside associate kitchen employee, Michelle Basler as Lannon special services paraprofessional and Zackary Buschke as Hamilton custodian.