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May 3, 2022

Early payment of debt saves taxpayers

The School Board took action to pay down district debt early through a process known as defeasance. The district will place money from its debt service fund into an escrow account to defease $2.38 million of debt from the 2018 referendum for construction of Silver Spring Intermediate School and Hamilton High School additions. The move will save taxpayers $1.1 million in interest costs over the course of the bonds and will result in a more steady mill rate. The School Board approved the additional levy in October. Tuesday night’s action allowed the district to establish and move the funds into an escrow account.

Grades 3, 4 prepare for specialization next year

It was just less than one year ago when Hamilton School Board members approved a shift to two-teacher instructional teams in grades 3 and 4 that would begin in the 2022-23 academic year. In those 12 months, district staff have been busy communicating with families, determining teacher-team designations, engaging in professional development to build expertise and skills and piloting specialization concepts.

Marcy Grade 4 Teacher Ashley Pfeifer talks about her experience piloting the grade 3-4 specialization model.

School Board members received an update from a team of teachers and administrators about the progress that has been made to ensure a smooth transition when third-fourth grade specialization will occur in the fall. Presenting at the meeting were Fourth Grade Teachers Aaron Greenwald, Trisha Hanrahan, Ashley Pfeifer and Julie Greenwald, Third Grade Teacher Ann Marie Pilo, Instructional Services Supervisor Cathy Drago, Curriculum Specialist Whitney Roth, Maple Avenue Principal Katie Ritchie, Woodside Principal James Edmond, Marcy Principal Michele Trawicki

Teachers will specialize in two subject areas – math and science or literacy and social studies. Classes would be taught in blocks, so that one teacher would teach a math-science block either in the morning or afternoon, and the other would teach literacy-social studies in the opposite block. 

In a written report, benefits to students were listed as:

  • Specialization – Students receive instruction from teachers who are passionate about their specialized disciplines. By narrowing their subject coverage, teachers can deepen their expertise and collaboratively plan more in-depth lessons. 
  • Instructional time – More integration and meaningful learning experiences occur in longer instructional blocks. Instead of the current practice of having social studies and science on alternating days, they can be taught daily without reducing reading or math.
  • Instructional teams – Students will be exposed to the instructional expertise and the teaching craft of more than one teacher. 
  • Minimal transition – Preserving the elementary experience is a priority. Schedules will be designed so that students move with their classmates to their second teacher once each day. 
  • Social-emotional – Students will develop caring relationships with two classroom teachers and remain with their same classmates throughout the entire day. Parent-teacher conferences will be held with both teachers as a team, focusing on the whole child. 
  • Balance of instruction – Each content area will receive equal treatment because teachers will use the same methodology to deliver instruction, focusing on achieving a guaranteed and viable curriculum in all content areas.

Board officers elected

School Board members elected Gabe Kolesari as their president, Jay Jones as vice president, Dawn Van Aacken as clerk and Brian Schneider as treasurer.

Otto presents on four career-related programs

Hamilton High School Associate Principal and Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator Mark Otto presented four items to the School Board.

  • The School Board approved continued participation in the Carl Perkins grant consortium offered through CESA #1 which provides the district with $14,331 in grant funding this year, an decrease from $14,907 from the previous year. The purpose of the grant is to provide students with academic and technical skills to succeed in a knowledge- and skills-based economy. It supports career and technical education that prepares students for postsecondary education and careers. The consortium provides grant-writing management, interaction with professionals from other districts, exposure to what is occurring at state and national levels and consultation services.
  • The district’s Extended Learning Opportunities Program annual report was accepted. The program grew out of the school-to-work initiative that aimed to connect education and employment where 4-year college degrees were not required. Experiences in the program include apprenticeships, mentorships, internships and job shadowing. It also investigates and designs alternative pathways for students who have exhausted the curriculum or are nontraditional learners. The program strengthens partnerships with the business community to prepare students for the world of work, regardless of the education or career track they choose. While some career development opportunities occur at the elementary and middle school level, a majority of activities are for high school students. They include career speakers, Youth Apprenticeship, work experience, academic assistants, Robotics, Early College Credit Program, DECA, Healthcare Career Academy, Manufacturing Career Expo, Reality Check and Schools2Skills.
  • Participation in the Waukesha County School-to-Work consortium for 2022-23 was approved. The School-to-Work Consortium provides grant funding that supports co-op, youth apprenticeship, work experience programs and K-12 career-related initiatives. Participation in the consortium is voluntary and provided at no cost to the district. In 2021-22, the consortium worked closely with Waukesha County Technical College to maintain transcripted credit courses. Hamilton continues to be a leader in the county in the number and quality of transcripted credit courses offered.
  • The district’s Education for Employment (E4E) was accepted. The plan identifies, coordinates and assists in preparing students to be college and career ready. It identifies work that has been done and existing gaps, and coordinates and aligns services in the district. Hamilton, like most districts, is adjusting its E4E plan to coordinate implementation of students’ Academic and Career Plans (ACP) to answer essential questions about the local labor market, student and family involvement, community partnerships and engagement, support for student academic and career planning and ACP implementation.

Personnel action

In personnel action, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Marcy Paraprofessional Jill Vandermolen, Woodside Early Math Empowerment Paraprofessional Melissa Heckman, Maple Avenue Early Math Empowerment Paraprofessional Laura Pape, all effective at the end of the 2021‐22 school year, and Silver Spring Paraprofessional Susan Haley, effective May 6;
  • appointed Nickolas Brandt as Hamilton special education teacher, Rebecca Derlein as Hamilton mathematics teacher, Nathan LeRoy as Hamilton mathematics teacher, Erica Phillips as Maple Avenue and Lannon technology integration resource teacher, Jill Vandermolen as Marcy math interventionist, Melissa Heckman as Woodside math interventionist, Laura Pape as Maple Avenue math interventionist, Margherita Farrugia as Woodside grade 3 math and science teacher, Marisa Marks as Woodside grade 1 teacher, Samantha Pinchart as Woodside grade 3 humanities teacher, Kaylee Gendrich as Silver Spring humanities teacher, Kristine Harris as Woodside grade 4 math and science teacher, all effective Aug. 22, and Susan Haley as Silver Spring administrative assistant, effective May 9.

Next year’s teacher staffing plan shows an increase of the equivalent of nearly six new positions. The number of full-time equivalency (FTE) positions will go from the current 332.73 to 338.48 in 2022-23 for an increase of 5.75 FTEs. The number of FTE teaching positions increases 3.62 at the elementary level, .8 FTE at the middle school and 1.78 at the high school. Silver Spring Intermediate will drop .45 FTE.