September 21, 2020

Blackwell, Ubert honored with Community Service Award

IMG_2003Hamilton Education Foundation officers Sandi Blackwell and Ann Ubert were honored as the district’s 2020 Community Service Award recipients at the Sept. 21 School Board meeting. Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., said both long-time officers were responsible for this year’s decision to move HEF’s dinner-auction fundraiser to a virtual event because of the pandemic. The online auction raised a record-breaking amount of almost $70,000 — the most ever for that event.

Ubert has been HEF executive director for 14 years, and Blackwell has been on the board for 10 years, currently serving as secretary. 

“Your hard work and dedication has allowed students and staff to experience opportunities that never would have existed without the generosity of the Hamilton Education Foundation,” Mielke said. “You have made a significant difference in the lives of our students and staff.”

Offering in-person, virtual options requires staff increase

The district added the equivalent of more than 15 staff members, mostly due to schedule changes required to offer in-person and virtual instruction during the pandemic. Most staff were allocated at the elementary level where the equivalent of 7.1 staff were hired. The high school increased by 4.67 full-time equivalencies (FTE), middle school increased 3.95 FTEs, and intermediate school by .9 FTEs. Because of the restructuring of coaching staff positions, district staff dropped by 1 position. Total FTE in the district went from 321.22 to 336.84.

Curriculum review cycle adjusted due to COVID-19

The Hamilton School District uses a 5-year curriculum review process to analyze the standards for each content area. Instructional Supervisor Catherine Drago presented a report on the cycle in place designed to create a more cohesive, united system that provides clarity around what high quality learning looks like in each content area. 

Work on English-language arts, which was reviewed last year, will continue this year. Future areas in the curriculum cycle will be:

  • 2021-22 – information technology literacy, world languages and social studies (7-12) and continuation of science;
  • 2022-23 – fitness education-health, mathematics (5-12) and social studies (K5-6);
  • 2023-24 – art, music, mathematics (K4-4) and science (K4-6); and
  • 2024-25 – family and consumer science, applied engineering and technology, business education, guidance and science (7-12).

Some content areas originally were scheduled for review earlier, but because of school shutdowns and added responsibilities due to the pandemic, they were postponed in the cycle.

No students accepted into early admission

No students were admitted early into kindergarten for 5-year-olds or grade 1, according to a report presented by Special Services Supervisor John Peterson. Two students participated in the early admission 5K screening process but were not recommended for placement. No parents requested early admissions for first grade.

District policy indicates children must be four, five or six years old by Sept. 1 to enter four-year-old kindergarten, regular kindergarten or first grade, respectively. While procedures exist for early admission to regular kindergarten and first grade, no early admission is granted for four-year-old kindergarten. Peterson’s report provided 19 years of data about early admissions requests and approvals.

Assessment schedule interrupted in 2019-20

School closures due to COVID-19 last spring led to significant changes in teaching and learning expectations for both last year and this. Testing windows were adjusted for many tests and ACT offered an online option. Drago presented a summary of 2020-21 state and local assessment windows which includes assessments such as FASTBridge reading and math, PALS, MAP, ACCESS, Dynamic Learning Maps, Forward Exam and National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

ESEA report given

Human Resources Director John Roubik presented a report 2020-21 initiatives of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Programs that comprise ESEA are: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Preparing Training and Recruiting Licensed Teachers, Principals and Other School Leaders Grants; Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students; and Support and Academic Enrichment Grant.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction estimates that the district will receive about $177,000 of federal funds for these programs, but the final amount will not be known until later. 

Personnel matters

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Woodside paraprofessional Danielle Strong, Silver Spring associate kitchen employee Jamie Brzezinski, Woodside speech pathologist Sarah Clement, Woodside literacy interventionist Elizabeth Berry and Silver Spring special services paraprofessional Roberta VonAsten;
  • accepted the retirement request of high school art teacher Lorene Lisherone; and
  • approved the appointments of Jessica Montiho as Marcy K5 replacement teacher, Kayla Petrie as Woodside special services paraprofessional, Stephanie Dillemuth as Woodside paraprofessional, Summer McEvoy as Maple Avenue special services paraprofessional, Megan Henning, high school social studies replacement teacher, Catherine Seifert as Willow Spring paraprofessional, Rebecca Leibiger as Templeton paraprofessional, Dana Marklund as high school communication arts replacement teacher, Nicole Piette as Maple Avenue grade 2 replacement teacher, Carrie Grossman as Templeton grade 7 replacement teacher, Sarah Pichler as Templeton special education replacement teacher, Sophia Piotrowski as high school special services paraprofessional, Annette Busalacchi as Templeton special services paraprofessional, Dawn Knollenberg as Woodside paraprofessional, Sally Schmeling as Templeton grade 8 replacement teacher, Rebecca Schlieder as Templeton grade 8 replacement teacher, Rebecca Hirsch as Silver Spring special services paraprofessional, Georgette Dermody as Marcy associate kitchen employee and Brianne Strelow as high school art replacement teacher.
  • modified the contracts of high school math teacher Andrew Fagan from 50 to 100%, Willow Spring speech-pathologist Angela Poulsen from 80 to 100%, Willow Spring special education teacher Melanie Vonachen from 80 to 100%, Woodside literacy interventionists Greg Winston and Nicole Tiutczenko each from 40 to 60%.

 

August 17, 2020

Board approves 14 positions to cover virtual learning option

Hamilton School Board members approved an increase of 14 full-time equivalency positions to accommodate the needs of students who selected the virtual online learning option for the 2020-21 school year.school board meeting_type

About 21% of students chose the virtual online option compared to nearly 79% who chose the traditional in-person model during online registration last week.

A staffing plan was developed that included three additional elementary teaching positions, one intermediate position, three middle school positions and five high school positions. In addition, two contingency positions were allotted to deal with potential enrollment fluctuations.

The additional staffing is expected to be a one-time expenditure to offer the virtual online option for the 2020-21 school year only.

Face covering protocols approved

After determining July 31 that face coverings will be required for students, staff, visitors and vendors in the traditional in-person learning model, the School Board approved protocols for use in schools.

Face coverings are not required for children under age 2 years, those with health care provider certification of a medical condition that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering and those identified in their IEP/504 health plan.

Schools will provide students with periodic breaks to remove face coverings while under supervision and maintaining appropriate social distancing.

Face coverings will not be required: outside the school building while socially distanced; at planned mealtime; during strenuous physical activity; during receipt of health care; if a person is experiencing acute trouble breathing, is unconscious or incapacitated; and other exemptions as deemed appropriate by the district administrator.

The protocols will be enforced while in school and at school-sponsored events and activities. Students who do not comply will be reminded of the protocol and ultimately provisions of School Board policy and student handbooks will be followed. Students who repeatedly refuse to comply will be required to receive their educational instruction at home.

Employees are expected to comply or face disciplinary action spelled out in the Employee Handbook and School Board policies. Visitors to the school will be informed of the protocol and will not be admitted to the building without a face covering.

County metrics framework adopted

The School Board accepted the Waukesha County Health Department’s Metrics Framework to determine assess COVID-19 risk levels in making decisions for the district and individual schools on instructional model delivery. The framework is based on the work of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

The levels include the following:

  • Green – on track for containment;
  • Yellow – community spread;
  • Orange – accelerated spread; and
  • Red – tipping point.

The county created a dashboard that will allow each district to analyze and monitor its active cases by defined age ranges that will include students, community and school staff.

Superintendent reports on other COVID-19 matters

In an update to the School Board, Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., reported that approximately 21% of students selected virtual online learning option for the first semester of 2020-21, and 40% of students opted out of bus transportation.

He also reported that a group of teachers and administrators explored a transition plan that would have half the enrollment attend in-person two days while the other half attended virtually, with one day for individual and small group instruction. It would be a temporary solution to reduce the number of students in the building at one time between traditional in-person and emergency remote learning. The plan was recommended only as a temporary transition if greater virus mitigation was necessary and not to start out the school year because of the disruption and inconsistency for families and staff

Induction program supports new teachers

New educators in the district will continue to be supported through the New Teacher Induction & Coaching Program. Teachers who are new to the profession typically need more direct, according to Instructional Services Supervisor Cathy Drago and Human Resources Director John Roubik, who presented a report to the School Board.

Support for the new teachers will focus on instructional design, classroom management and strong instructional practices. Teachers receive support for two years. Veteran teachers new to the Hamilton School District participate in the district’s instructional coaching model. In addition, new teachers participate in monthly meetings with their mentors and a first semester check-in with Educational Services staff.

New teachers will learn about:

  • district’s mission, vision and strategic plan initiatives;
  • new teacher support and instructional coaching model overview;
  • mentor-mentee relationship and expectations;
  • district technology resources;
  • Educator Effectiveness options and introduction to Frontline software;
  • Teachers on Call
  • Skyward;
  • ALICE active shooter drills;
  • COVID-19 planning and virtual teaching expectations.

Personnel actions

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Willow Springs special services paraprofessional Amy Krueger, Maple Avenue special services paraprofessional Crystal Mazur and Templeton Title I paraprofessional Eden Mitchell; Kathleen Peterson as high school associate kitchen employee and Laura Watson as Maple Avenue special services paraprofessional;
  • appointed Heather Leffler as Maple Avenue special education teacher, Calli Bemis as food service assistant manager, Marina Samens as Lannon special services paraprofessional, Brianne Hill as Maple Avenue grade 1 teacher, Nicole Lockhart as Lannon special services paraprofessional, Andrew Fagan as Hamilton mathematics teacher, Lauren Little as Silver Spring music teacher, Cathy House, as Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee, Danielle Danz as Lannon grade 1 replacement teacher, Taylor Dietz as Woodside grade 4 replacement teacher, Catherine Losiniecki as Lannon health room paraprofessional and Alexis Prei as Silver Spring grade 6 replacement teacher; and
  • modified the contract of Lannon speech pathologist Amy Chavie from 80% to full time.

July 29, 2020

Hamilton School Board members accepted four administrative recommendations concerning the opening of the 2020-21 school year, including requirement of face masks for students and staff who are involved in traditional in-person learning.school board meeting_type

Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., said the district was taking guidance on the use of face masks from the Waukesha County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics which all endorsed the use of masks when social distancing is not possible.

Policies will be written providing exemptions for individuals with medical, developmental, mental health or religious consideration. In addition, students will not be required to wear masks while outside. Students will be instructed on the proper use and care for masks, and breaks will be built in during the day.

In addition to the mask decision, the School Board agreed that the district should:

  • develop metrics and ranges to determine if school should be conducted virtually based on community spread of the virus, active staff and student confirmed cases, student and staff absences due to close contact, rate of infection among students and staff, overall teacher absence rate and ability to replace staff who are absent with a substitute;
  • research potential to use a hybrid option during significant community spread
  • continue researching new cleaning products and procedures.

More details about health and safety measures were provided in a written report to the board.

Earlier in the meeting Buildings & Ground Manager Jeff Grove described the array of equipment, technology, sprays and chemicals custodial staff will use to clean schools. Grove said the schools will have additional cleaning to reduce and eliminate the virus.

Instructional Services Supervisor Cathy Drago, Curriculum Specialist Whitney Roth and Program Support Coordinator Katie Foy gave School Board members details on how instruction will be delivered next fall. They focused on emergency remote learning for students who might be out of school for up to 21 days due to COVID exposure, extended school closures and the 100% virtual option.

July 20, 2020

Board accepts task force report

Hamilton School Board members approved a plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year that includes in-person and virtual options for students. In June and July, the 70-member Reopening Schools Task Force studied issues of providing instruction and services to students and keeping students, staff and families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.school board meeting_type

The five subcommittees of the task force also reviewed results of parent and staff surveys to come up with a plan to meet the needs of students, staff and families.

Options for learning

Among the task force’s recommendations and conclusions, three modes of learning were identified as options for students:

  • 100% in-person learning in school;
  • 100% virtual learning at home; and
  • Emergency remote learning for students who are out for several days because of COVID-19 exposure.

Common technology platforms ID’d

The task force also identified common technology platforms to communicate learning and progress to families. Students in grades 4K-6 will use Seesaw with those in grades 3-6 also having access to Google Classroom. Middle and high school students would consistently use Google Sites and Google Classroom.

Additional professional development days offered

Of significance was the School Board’s approval of four additional professional development days in August that will focus on: health, safety and wellness of students and staff; high quality teaching and learning in an online and in-person environment; and the opportunity for staff to collaborate. Staff who attend training Aug. 5 and 6 or Aug. 18 and 19 will get two additional collaborative planning days before Aug. 24.

Templeton moves to block schedule

Templeton Middle School will move to a block schedule this fall that is expected to help students better focus on their classes and cut down on the amount of travel and exposure to others during the day. During the spring when students learned from home, school staff heard from parents and students that managing seven to eight classes per day was difficult. The new schedule keeps the number of classes taken in a semester the same, but using an A/B day schedule, they will have only five classes each day.

More details from 5 subcommittees

In addition, the task force identified plans to: provide social and emotional support for students, staff and families; ensure technology access, support and guidance to all stakeholders; maximize safety through policies and protocols affecting lunch, facilities, transportation, athletics and visitors. Learn more details about each of the five subcommittee’s recommendations.

Financial impact could hit $1.3 million

The impact on the district’s budget could reach $1.3 million for resources, professional development, technology licenses, equipment, additional staff, protective personal equipment and cleaning supplies. The School Board approved having the money come from the district’s fund balance.

No decision on face masks until after county guidance

A decision that the School Board did not make was whether students and staff will be required to wear masks. That will not be addressed until Waukesha County Health Department issues guidance on that issue.

June 30, 2020

Task force looks at reopening schools

Before the 2019-20 school year ended, a task force was already studying myriad issues of reopening school for 2020-21 amid a pandemic. While School Board members will get a final comprehensive report July 20, Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., gave them a status update on the work of the five subcommittees that comprise the Reopening School Task Force.school board meeting_type

The five subcommittees, their scope of study and status are:

Social & Emotional Wellness – Support students and staff during the reopening of school, reestablish PBIS expectations, identify students in need of assistance and re-establish cognitive endurance.

Status:

  • Evaluating needs of students and staff
  • Prioritizing professional learning activities and welcome back activities
  • Identifying professional learning around supporting students with mental health and SEW needs, with common resources for staff to support students in discussion
  • Developing plans to re-establish PBIS within schools

Teaching & Learning – Enable students to continue to make academic progress and prevent regression. The subcommittee will set the direction and vision for the academic program which includes building the instructional model for potential learning environments.

Status:

  • Preparing for traditional in person start:
    • Preparing for returning students and anticipating the need for virtual instruction for students if they become ill or need to be quarantined for 14 days
  • Creating action plans for “common” platforms based on grade levels, i.e., See Saw, Google classroom, etc.
  • Planning for a 100% virtual option for parents not wanting to send their children back to school buildings
  • Reviewing how to utilize staff who indicated, through a district survey, they are interested in working in a virtual setting
  • Parents will receive a survey to determine interest in a 100% virtual setting for their students

Technology – Ensure effective and equitable access and use of technology to support learning and communication in all learning environments. The subcommittee will lead technology access and support by conducting an inventory, issuing devices and ensuring access for families who do not have internet.

Status:

  • Determining needs for equipment to support teaching and learning
  • Standardizing platforms used
  • Streamlining processes for communicating software and application availability and requests
  • Assessing bandwidth
  • Collect data points during online registration regarding devices available and internet access

Human Resources and Finance – Maintain effective and efficient budgetary, financial and human resources operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.

Status:

  • Creating Pandemic Handbook
  • Accommodation forms
  • Employee sick-time questions
  • Recommendations on travel outside of state
  • Creating guidance for staff to follow regarding PPE in classrooms
  • Creating a flow chart or graphic representation of when an employee/family member/child has COVID

Facilities and Operations – Maintain effective and efficient facilities, nutrition services and other key operations. The subcommittee will determine policies to support the health and well-being of staff, understand and ensure human resources and finance compliance and develop a sustainable financial plan.

Status:

  • Food service items under consideration:
    • Touchless or no-touch point of sale, student IDs on lanyards with barcode
    • Disposable trays and utensils
    • Staggering arrival times in the cafeteria
    • Potential to have assigned seating
    • Directed traffic flow
  • Busing items under consideration:
    • Potential assigned seating on buses
    • Loading back to front
    • Washing and cleaning process between routes
    • Parents can opt out using buses
  • Health room and monitoring items under consideration:
    • Designated isolation room in each school. Showing symptoms (N95 for staff/gowns) isolate in an area
    • Self-monitoring for families/students as well
    • Education and training hygiene – more signage
    • Limiting visitors coming into school to only essential individuals
  • Other items under consideration:
    • Plexiglass high traffic areas
    • Investigating face shields for staff working directly with students
    • Working on hand sanitizer dispensers for all rooms
    • Signage reminders about handwashing and symptoms
    • Closing drinking fountains but keeping water bottle fillers open
    • Reevaluating cleaning processes for cleaning high-touch – high traffic areas
    • DPI has provided district with masks to distribute to students

Personnel action

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the retirement request of Food & Nutrition Services Assistant Manager Sandra MacPherson, effective Aug. 31; and
  • approved the resignations of Maple Avenue special education teacher Heather Ertl, Woodside instructional paraprofessional Lauren Vogt and Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee Diana Muche, all effective June 2020.

June 15, 2020

District pulls together task force for opening of 2020-21 school year

Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., shared with Hamilton School Board members a report how the district is preparing for the opening of the 2020-21 school year considering the COVID-19 pandemic.school board meeting_type

“While the preferred option is to have all students return to school buildings, the district is creating multiple contingency plans in the event that limited numbers of students are permitted to return to an in-person model,” Mielke wrote in his report. “The district is also creating plans and protocols regarding a response should there be a Coronavirus outbreak in one of the school buildings.”

A task force will study issues and provide recommendations to ensure the overall safety and well-being of the school community. Families and employee were invited to provide input via online surveys, and the results will be used as plans are created. The task force will focus on five areas that include: social and emotional support; teaching and learning; technology; human resources and finance; and facilities and operations.

Open Enrollment students placed on waiting list

The district received 152 applications from nonresident students to attend Hamilton schools under Open Enrollment. No spaces are available in the district, so applicants will be placed on a waiting list for the 2020-21 school year. The district will monitor expected enrollment throughout the summer to determine if students will be recommended for placement at schools based on space availability with priority for siblings of current students.

Lunch prices remain the same

Student fees and lunch prices for 2020-21 will remain unchanged for most students in the district. Lunch prices are: $2.60 for elementary and $2.95 for intermediate, middle and high school students. Intermediate students’ meals will include a salad bar, and bistro box meals will be $2.60.  Lunch prices for adults will be $3.75. The cost for a carton of milk for all students will remain at 35 cents.

District renews participation in SWSA

School Board members authorized the district to renew participation in the Southeastern Wisconsin School Alliance (SWSA). The 32-member alliance provides school leaders from southeastern Wisconsin with objective, non-partisan information and training as they work with policymakers regarding education issues. The annual cost to participate in SWSA is $3,200 per school district.

Reports, documents get OK

Many reports and documents were approved including:

  • Templeton and Hamilton student handbooks;
  • Hamilton 2020-21 co-curricular handbooks;
  • district emergency nursing services policies and procedures;
  • bloodborne pathogens procedures;
  • special education procedures handbook;
  • district interventions status report;
  • teacher supervision and evaluation policies and procedures;
  • membership in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association; and
  • waiver of Wisconsin local wellness policy triennial assessment.

Personnel action

In personnel business, the School Board

  • accepted the resignations of Hamilton High School Associate Principal Laura Westcott and Silver Spring Intermediate School Teacher Whitney Roth;
  • appointed Whitney Roth as district curriculum specialist and Tracy Gordon as district nurse, both effective July 1;
  • approved retirement request of Hamilton High School Marketing Teacher, Skip Hay effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

June 2, 2020

Instructional coach position reconfigured into curriculum specialist

The Hamilton School Board created a new position of curriculum specialist at its June 2 meeting. The new position replaces the district’s instructional coach position, which is currently held by Cathy Drago who will become instructional services supervisor with the retirement of Katie Little at the end of the month. The curriculum specialist will assist the instructional services supervisor and will serve as chair of curriculum committees as well as having a major role in district staff development.school board meeting_type

In a written report on status of the instructional and literacy coaching initiative, Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little and Human Resources Director John Roubik stated that the new position will focus on supporting the instructional services supervisor in implementation of the assessment initiative. They said they believe the shift in emphasis will have a significant impact on addressing current needs of teachers and strategic plan next steps.

The district hired one full-time instructional coach in 2016 and aligned reading specialists’ teaching schedules to include time for literacy coaching in each building. Over the last four years, hundreds of teachers have benefitted from the coaching provided by these teachers, according to Little and Roubik. As the district moves forward with its strategic plan initiatives, greater emphasis will be on curriculum development and professional learning with a greater understanding of standards and assessment practices.

Reading specialists will continue to support literacy coaching in each building which includes partnering with teachers to help them incorporate research-based instructional practices into their teaching, encouraging reflection about their classroom practices and helping them identify their professional goals and implement a plan for reaching them. The focus will continue to be on improving instruction.

Year-end projects OK’d

The School Board gave approval to a prioritized list of buildings and grounds projects that will be completed if designated year-end budgets allow. Among the highest priority are asphalt replacement of the high school student parking lot, roof replacement and heating, ventilation and air conditioning control updates. Totals project expenses are:

  • District – $323,200
  • Hamilton High – $730,500
  • Templeton – $375,500
  • Silver Spring – $8,000
  • Willow – $42,500
  • Lannon – $52,800
  • Marcy – $76,000
  • Maple Avenue – $123,000
  • Total – $1,737,500

Other business

In other action, the School Board approved revisions to the 2020-21 National Honor Society handbook and accepted a status report update on the district’s strategic plan.

May 18, 2020

2020 summer school program will have different look

It may not look like Summer Opportunities of years past, but the Hamilton School District will offer summer school this year. The district’s normal program was canceled due to the pandemic, but seven weeks of live virtual instruction is planned for students needing intervention and all students who want continued engagement. Classes will be held three days a week between 8:30-11:30 a.m. In addition, other high school credit-recovery and transition courses will be offered.school board meeting_type

Students will be mailed hard-copy packets and their teachers will engage with them through email and virtual Zoom or Google meetings. The K-8 program will be June 23 – August 7 and will include invitational literature and mathematics camps, general literature and mathematics K-8 camps, visual arts, theater-drama and karate. In addition, 4K and 5K in-person transition offerings may be considered for late July and early August dependent on state guidelines for gatherings.

The high school program will be June 22 – July 17 in morning and afternoon sessions and will include a ninth grade transition course encouraged for all graduating eighth-graders, health, history, biology, algebra, communication arts and civics and economics.

There will be no cost to families, but the district may incur up to $50,000 of expenses that may be reimbursed by the state.

Registration will be May 26-29.

Board OKs budget that will be presented at postponed Annual Meeting

The Hamilton School Board gave its approval for the 2020-21 budget that will be presented to voters at a postponed Aug. 17 Annual Meeting.

The budget totals $63.4 million, which is 2.61 percent more than the current budget. The tax rate is projected to be $9.38 per $1,000 of equalized property value – a 2.74% increase. For each $100,000 of property owned, citizens will pay $938 to support local school taxes.

The budget was created with the assumption that property values in the district will increase by 2.5 percent and enrollment will increase by 70 students. The tax rate could be affected if the projections do not match up in October with actual numbers. Increased property values and student enrollment would result in a lower tax rate, and less-than-expected property valuation and enrollment will cause an increase.

The School Board moved the Annual Meeting from July 20 to Aug. 17 due to economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More reliable budget information will be available from the state which will allow the district to have the most current and accurate data to share with the community in advance of the Annual Meeting.

Seniors & Students continues success

Public Information and Volunteer Program Coordinator Denise Dorn Lindberg updated the School Board on the Seniors & Students Program. She credited Jen Galang, Seniors & Students Program support, with the continued success of the program through outstanding recruitment, training and support of volunteers. A total of 268 volunteers participate in the program providing in-person assistance or as pen pals.

New this year was the addition of Time to Learn and Connect (TLC) at Marcy Elementary School where volunteers meeting with students during lunch to read books or play games. Maple Avenue and Lannon elementary schools have similar programs. In addition, five senior volunteers are at the new Silver Spring Intermediate School, with volunteers at all schools in the district except the high school.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut program participation short this year, but volunteer still contributed nearly 6,000 hours to the program. In the 22 years since the program has been in place, senior volunteers contributed more than 135,000 hours to the district at a value of nearly $2.9 million.

Staffing plan for 2020-21 presented

The district is planning to have a nearly status-quo staffing plan for 2020-21 because of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools will have the same staffing levels as 2019-20 except the high school which will add an 83% part-time fitness education position.

Chapter 220 enrollment dwindling

For the first time since the district has been involved in the program, no elementary students are involved in the Chapter 220 voluntary integration program. The program began being phased out about five years ago when the state Legislature cut funding and restructured the program. This year 29 continuing students from Silver Spring, Templeton and Hamilton High are participating. State law does not allow any new seats to be opened for students.

Chapter 220 is a state-funded voluntary integration program that brings Milwaukee Public Schools students to suburban districts. Before Legislators phased out the program, as many 110 Milwaukee students attended the district.

CESA contract approved

The district will contract in 2020-21 with the regional CESA #1 cooperative for nearly $283,000 and grant allocations to provide programming, training, lending libraries and networks related to areas such as college and career readiness, early childhood, district administration, federal funding, personalized learning, occupational and speech & language, alternative education.

Personnel matters

In personnel business the School Board:

  • appointed Catherine Drago as Instructional Services supervisor and Meghan Goldner as Hamilton High School administrative assistant, both effective July 1; and
  • accepted the retirement request of Templeton Special Service paraprofessional Kelly Jurasovich, effective at the end of the school year.

May 5, 2020

School Board lifts policies that pertain to state assessments, high school final exams

Because the state is not requiring annual student assessments this year due to the pandemic, the Hamilton School Board voted to suspend its policies that pertain to student performance on state tests. school board meeting_typeResults of state tests normally are considered when deciding whether to promote or retain students at a grade level. Because the assessments will not be administered this year, the local policy is being suspended. In addition, the School Board lifted its policy of having high school final exams during a certain time period. Teachers will give modified final exams and will not be required to administer them on a specific date at the high school.

Rules on staff use of information technology adjusted

The School Board opened the door to allow staff members to use social media to communicate with students about non-classroom related content if they have advanced approval from their principal. Previous policy did not allow staff to use non-district applications or platforms to reach out to students for any reason. All communication regarding information and activities related to the classroom must still occur on the district’s student information system or platforms approved by the district, but staff who get prior principal approval may use non-district sponsored applications and platforms to communicate about school information not specific to the classroom.

Staff who wish to use social media to communicate about school clubs, activities and events must agree to adhere to guidelines for professional and ethical communication and provide administration with usernames and passwords for the account.

Superintendent Paul Mielke, Ph.D., said the revised policy will provide more freedom and more expectations for staff regarding professional use of social media. He said guidelines will be implemented to protect students, the district and staff.

Otto presents four reports on career, employment readiness 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 $12,429 in grant funding this year, an decrease from $15,121 the previous year. The grant supports career and technical education that prepares students both both postsecondary education and careers. Funds this year were used to support supplies and materials in Business, Family and Consumer Education, and Applied Engineering and Technology departments. In addition, it provided opportunities for teachers to attend conferences to support their curriculum.
  • 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. 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, most activities are for high school students. They include an elementary career guidance unit, creation of career portfolios, Junior Achievement participation, an entrepreneurship program, Project Lead the Way classes, 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 2020-21 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. During this school year, the consortium worked closely with Waukesha County Technical College to understand the 6-week instead of full semester classes it implemented and continued to pursue additional transcripted credit opportunities.
  • The district’s Education for Employment (E4E) was accepted. E4E was established in 1985 in response to the growing concern over the number of youth who failed to make a successful transition from school to the world of work. E4E plans now coincide with Academic and Career Planning (ACP) of students. The plan identifies, coordinates and assists in preparing students to be college and career ready.

Summer curriculum work, training approved

Summer curriculum work, instructional initiatives and professional development workshops were approved. Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., said more of the events are being pushed to July and August in hopes of being able to have face-to-face collaboration in light of restrictions in place due to the pandemic. The events planned are:

  • Grades K-12 curriculum team – planning for fall K-12 English language arts curriculum work;
  • Grades K-12 English language arts professional development;
  • K-8 science – grade level curriculum planning;
  • Grades 9-12 science curriculum work;
  • Grades 5-6 humanities integration curriculum planning;
  • Fastbridge progress monitoring and screening training;
  • Administrator Retreat; and
  • New Teacher Orientation.

The budget for the summer work is $42,920 and is funded through the district’s Educational Services budget.

Pesonnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board approved hiring of Jackie Leon as Public Information Office part-time administrative assistant, effective May 11, and Amanda Hunt as high school world languages – French teacher, effective Aug. 21.

April 20, 2020

Changes to grades K4-6 student progress reporting approved

The Hamilton School Board accepted the recommendation of a staff and parent committee to adjust how elementary and intermediate schools will report and communicate student progress.school board meeting_type

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, teachers will:

  • continue Great Start Conferences with improvements suggested by parents and staff;
  • have fall and spring conferences based on parent preference for a phone, email or in-person session; 
  • issue semester report cards in January and June; and 
  • use the app Seesaw and rubrics regularly to communicate student progress.

Report cards will be aligned to standards with one descriptor key that matches rubric terminology of “beginning,” “developing,” “proficient” and “excelling” for grades K-6 standards and learning behaviors. No grades will be calculated for third and fourth grade content areas. Silver Spring students will have calculated grades in all content areas except science. Overall comments will be provided at the end rather than for each content area. Quarterlong classes at Silver Spring will receive a grade at the end of the quarter. Kindergarten may consider a 3-point scale for finite skills.

Two nights and one day have been allotted for conferences, but the 15-20 minute sessions can be scheduled any time in November or March.

Guidelines regarding the frequency of SeeSaw use will be developed and rubrics will be developed within the curriculum review cycle for each content area.

District moves to pilot with FastBridge

Another committee recommendation was accepted. After administrators, reading specialists, math support teachers, psychologists and special education teachers reviewed the alternatives, they recommended piloting FastBridge in 2020-21 at Hamilton, Silver Spring, Lannon, Marcy and Woodside for reading and math screeners, replacing MAP and PALS. All schools will use FastBridge progress monitoring probes.

Among its advantages, FastBridge will be a faster assessment and costs will be about $10,500 less than using the current system.

Board looks at first draft of 2020-21 budget

The Hamilton School Board took its first look at the 2020-21 budget at its regular meeting. The budget totals $63.4 million — a 2.61 percent increase over the current budget.

The district expects to see a slight increase of 0.12 in state aid. The tax rate will be $9.38 per $1,000 of equalized property value, a 2.74 percent increase. The impact for local taxpayers will be a $25 increase for each $100,000 of property owned.

The budget was created with the assumption that property values in the district will increase by 2.5 percent and enrollment will increase by 70 students. The tax rate could be affected if the projections do not match up in October with actual numbers. Increased property values and student enrollment would result in a lower tax rate, and less-than-expected property valuation and enrollment will cause an increase.

The School Board will vote in May on the final budget that will be presented at the July 20 Annual Meeting.

AET, music curriculum changes adopted

Curriculum documents for applied engineering and technology (AET) and music were approved. AET added “Digital Electronics” and “Automation” to course offerings beginning in 2020. Content in other classes were adjusted within course strands to better reflect learning progression. “AP Music Theory” and “Intermediate Music Theory” courses were added for the 2020-21 school year.

Curriculum resources approved

The School Board approved the purchase of $26,975 for curriculum resources that include new “AP Biology” textbooks, an online spelling resource for Silver Spring and the paid version of Seesaw for grades K-6 student progress communication.

Students make early credit requests

A total of 26 high school students requested admission to the Early College Credit Program (ECCP) that will allow them to take classes next semester at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee/Waukesha and Carroll University. In addition, 16 students’ requests to take Waukesha County Technical College courses through Start College Now were also approved. Both programs were formerly part of the Youth Options Program. Hamilton Principal Rebecca Newcomer noted in a report to the School Board that students are not always able to take the courses because of scheduling conflicts or full classes.

ECCP and Start College Now are programs mandated by the state that allow students who have completed tenth grade, are in good academic standing and have no disciplinary problems to attend a technical college or university if the high school does not offer comparable courses.

The programs are budgeted through the high school. The state Department of Workforce Development funds 25 percent of the ECCP program. If a student has met all graduation requirements, Hamilton may require students taking courses through the ECCP program to pay 25 percent of the course cost. For both programs the family is required to pay the full cost if a student fails, withdraws or drops the course and transportation is the family’s responsibility.

Other business

In other business, the School Board:

  • heard reports about the district’s strategic-tactical plan and Information Technology initiatives;
  • extended the dairy contract with Kemps Dairy for 2020-21;
  • did not increase lunch prices and student fees for 2020-21;
  • approved the boys’ swimming and girls’ hockey co-ops; and
  • accepted the resignations of Silver Spring Intermediate School special education teacher Kelleah Lewis, effective at the end of the 2019‐20 school year; Public Information Office administrative assistant Jessica Coon, effective April 7; Hamilton Special Services paraprofessional Sarah Braunschweig, effective April 6; and Maple Avenue associate kitchen employee Kelly Adams‐Fant, effective June 11.