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October 5, 2021

Facility Advisory Committee to review growth, needs

A committee to study community growth, enrollment projections and facility needs will be formed before the end of the year and will present its report to the Hamilton School Board by Jan. 17, 2022. The School Board approved a charge for a 2021 Facilities Advisory Committee to review available data and develop recommendations that could include conducting a referendum.

Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., noted that the timeframe for future action could be months or years, based on the committee’s recommendations.

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A parent from each school and representatives from the community, senior citizens, business, employees, administration and the School Board will comprise the committee.

School Board members agreed that the committee would:

  • review subdivision growth and projections;
  • review current district enrollments and enrollment projections through 2026;
  • review elementary attendance boundaries in light of enrollment projections;
  • review current facilities and analyze space utilization and physical condition of facilities and identify needs;
  • review implications of financial impact on school district in addressing facility needs;
  • identify preferred options to address facility needs;
  • analyze and illustrate potential public support for recommendations to be presented for Board review; and
  • present a report to the Board of Education no later than January 17, 2022.

Superintendent’s Report acknowledges board role in accomplishments

In his report, Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., acknowledged Wisconsin School Board Appreciation Week by reminding School Board members of the accomplishments they have supported. 

  • During the 2020-21 school year when many districts were 100% virtual, Hamilton offered in-person and virtual options. Schools were open for face-to-face instruction throughout 2020-21 with the exception of two weeks at Hamilton and Templeton and one week at Silver Spring when the number of positive cases and close contacts required those students to go virtual
  • Hamilton had the 10th highest achievement among Wisconsin’s 367 K-12 school districts on the Wisconsin State Report Card. Hamilton was second highest in the overall achievement score, third highest in mathematics and fifth in reading and language arts.
  • The district’s Advanced Placement pass rate is 88% compared to the national rate of 60-70%
  • In 2021, 93 graduating seniors received industry-recognized verification which is the 13th highest total in the state.
  • Hamilton High School was named to U.S. News’ “Best High Schools” ranking for nine consecutive years.
  • District enrollment is expected to rise to approximately 4,990 students — the highest in the district’s history.
  • The district was voted a “Top Workplace” for 10 consecutive years, based on third-party objective employee surveys.
  • The district will pass the lowest mill rate in its history in October. The mill rate will be at $7.93 per $1,000 of property value. In the early 1970s, the mill rate reached as high as $25.69 per $1,000 of property value.
  • The district’s cost-per-pupil is lowest among Waukesha County K-12 school districts. The district spends 10.4% less than the state average.

97% of students wearing masks

In his update on COVID-19, Mielke reported that 97% of students wear masks in school. The district received mask accommodation requests for 3% of students

COVID-19 affects summer school again

For the second consecutive year, COVID-19 had an impact on summer school. Summer Opportunities Coordinators Cody Leland, Katie Ritchie and Brian Balfany summarized the 2021 program. Enrollment was 950 students which included 417 who participated in the fitness conditioning program “Strength, Agility and Speed.” This compares with typical enrollment of about 2,000 students.

The format for the enrichment and invitational program for students in grade K-6 was one-hour virtual courses. Credit recovery courses for students in grades 7-12 were prioritized this year and offered three-hour sessions.

Fewer students meant fewer staff members.This year’s program was supported by the equivalent of 26 full-time positions. In previous years that number was 110-115.

The 2022 program will run from June 20 to July 15 with no classes for students on July 4.

Principals give group report on school progress, initiatives

Principals from the four elementary schools and Willow Springs Learning Center gave a joint report to the School Board. The principals represented schools that serve students from pre-K to grade 4.

The five schools saw a total of 225 new registrations this year including:

  • 116 at Willow Springs; 
  • 46 at Lannon;
  • 55 at Maple;
  • 67 at Marcy; and
  • 57 at Woodside.

Among the facilities projects were:

  • Marcy and Lannon parking lots repaved;
  • Marcy front sidewalk and landscaping addition;
  • Maple Avenue indoor garden space;
  • Districtwide purchase of Chromebook carts;
  • Lannon and Maple Avenue new playground equipment;
  • Willow Springs Large Group Area transformation in progress; and
  • Woodside wood-paneled entry refinished;

Other initiatives saw:

  • greater alignment and more professional development opportunities tied to the Strategic Plan;
  • recalibration of Seesaw, the parent communication app;
  • specialization of grades 3 and 4 instruction;
  • development of Professional Learning Conversations (PLC);
  • further development of social-emotional learning activities;
  • establishment of a Safety Week to practice all safety drills in partnership with local police and fire departments;
  • focus on questions that clarify essential understanding;
  • progress in standards-based report cards;
  • implementation of Fastbridge as a universal screener to give teachers accurate data about student learning; and
  • improved Willow Springs report card.

The schools see the need to address large class sizes, instructional and social-emotional student development; staff capacity, schedules for travelling specialists and paraprofessional support for 4K classrooms.

Silver Spring reports on data, goals

Silver Spring Intermediate School Principal Deanna Wellens and Associate Principal Susan Schramka presented the work of their school’s site planning team to the School Board. 

Silver Spring had only last year’s data to work off of because Wisconsin students did not take the Forward exam in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic broke out, and the district only began using FastBridge multiple times during the year as a reading and mathematics development screener. The team also used Panorama data which provided insight on growth mindset, sense of belonging and feelings of safety at school.

Data revealed that Silver Spring students performed consistently better on mathematics skills compared to English language arts. As the team dug deeper into the data, it noticed that vocabulary development was an opportunity for improvement. Another trend in the data showed that Silver Spring students’ growth mindset and grit was below average of other suburban schools. As a result, the committee recommended two goals to address these areas.

Personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the resignation of Lannon Special Services Paraprofessional Ronna Van Hoof; and
  • appointed two special services paraprofessionals — Angela Ullenberg at Maple Avenue and Shellee Kremer at Lannon.

2022-23 calendar planning parameters accepted

Human Resources Director John Roubik presented parameters that will be used for the development of a 2022-23 draft school calendar. They include:

  • maximizing student instructional time to exceed state requirements;
  • scheduling student break times that best fit the academic needs of students;
  • including spring break during the last full week in March and a four-day weekend at Easter;
  • maintaining days set aside for professional development and time for teachers to prepare and close out their classrooms;
  • offering opportunities for parents and teachers to confer about student progress; and
  • maintaining 192 teacher contract days.

In his report, Roubik noted that the district committed to regularly scheduling spring break during the last full week in March and a four-day weekend which included Good Friday and the day after Easter. In 2023, Easter falls on April 9, which is closer to the usual spring break week than this year, so administrators will assess that impact on the overall calendar.

Input from parent officers and district staff will be sought with a recommendation to the School Board expected by Dec. 20.

Citizens speak about mask requirement

Three district residents spoke about the district’s temporary mask requirement. Lynnae Joslin Moore wants the requirement lifted, and Valery Jahn and Bridget Botts Kastern were in favor of keeping the mask requirement in place.