February 7, 2017

Board hears progress of instructional coaching after one semester in place

After having an instructional coaching program in place for one semester, eight teachers who have implemented the initiative reported to the School Board about progress they have seen. Cathy Drago, Patricia Sankey, Addie Starrett, Kim Weber and Pam Welter shared how they have provided personalized professional development and promoted the implementation of best practices in all curricular areas. Unable to be at the meeting were Anne Hatfield, Heidi Spingola and Amy Yellin.

The coaches shared anecdotes, data, examples of the work they were doing in classrooms, testimonials from teachers and videos of students and teachers in the classroom.

Drago noted that instructional coaches have worked with 138 teachers, and more than 60 percent of staff expressed interest in working with them.

“It’s pretty amazing that you have done all this work in just one semester,” said School Board member Deborah Briggs.

She acknowledged that she was not sure about the program when she first learned about it. After reading the report, Briggs said she was impressed with the work they were doing.

“I can’t say enough about it. I am really thrilled about it,” Briggs said.

Last spring, Drago was hired as a full-time instructional coach and instructional coaching was added as one of the responsibilities for district reading specialists. The addition of 10 part-time interventionists provide direct and intensive interventions for students who need literacy support that reading specialists provided in the past.

High school PISA scores increase

Hamilton High School Principal Candis Mongan reported on the latest Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) test results which measures reading, mathematics and science proficiency of 15-year-olds among 65 countries. Hamilton’s performance in all three areas increased from 2013 to 2015, and the mean scores were significantly higher than the U.S. mean.

New financial, human resources software chosen

After using the AS400 financial software from Regional Data Services (RDS) for 26 years, the district will move to a new system offered by the Stevens Point-based company, Skyward. Factors precipitating the move include the need to replace the AS400 server, RDS’s limited ability to provide services to meet required Affordable Care Act reporting and lack of a presence in Wisconsin.

After reviewing other possible financial software packages, Business Office staff recommended going with Skyward because the company is used by more than 90 percent of Wisconsin school districts. The company’s statewide presence offers a more substantial support network and a close working relationship with the state Department of Public Instruction to prepare required reports for direct uploads. It also has numerous resources – including conferences, online manuals, videos and user documentation – to get and keep staff up to date on using the system.

Purchase of the new Skyward financial package will have higher costs for set-up and data migration, but staying with RDS would require purchase of a new server. Skward’s proposal included $55,962 for start-up expenses, and a new server for the RDS system would be $20,000. Ongoing annual fees for Skyward are $50,538; RDS annual costs are $50,500 in 2017-18 and 2 percent higher each year thereafter.

High school students earn industry standard certification

Hamilton High School business education teacher Toni Hillmann reported on the success of her computer application class which completed rigorous technical training and earned Microsoft Office Specialist certification. The students completed the “Productivity” strand of the Microsoft Imagine Academy program. No other Wisconsin high school has had more students certified than Hamilton.

Hamilton began participating this summer in Microsoft Imagine Academy, a nationwide program that allows schools to offer fundamental technology skills training and rigorous technical courses for students who are interested in pursuing a career in information technology after graduation. Microsoft provided a grant that allowed Hamilton to participate in the program.

Schneider asks board to consider restriction of student cell phone use

School Board member Brian Schneider addressed the board during the community comments section of the meeting. He asked fellow board members to consider at a future meeting the elimination or restriction of student cell phone use in classrooms. Because the item was not posted on the current agenda, board members were not able to respond.

Students approved for early graduation

In a report, Hamilton High School Principal Candis Mongan presented the applications of juniors – Kaitlyn Ahnert, Skylar Cranfield, Abigail Kramer, Emalie King, Katie Milewski, Clara Vowels, Chrystin Xiong and Lydia Xiong – who requested to graduate early. The students met School Board policy requirements and will be eligible to graduate in January 2018.

Two new sports to be offered at Hamilton

Hamilton High School students will have two new athletic opportunities beginning in the fall, 2017.

Boys’ freshman and junior varsity volleyball teams will start up, with a varsity team added two years later. Interest in having a boys’ team has been strong. Currently 44 boys in grades 5-8 participate in the Junior Chargers Boys Vollleyball Program. The high school will cover team expenses which are expected to be $12,500 the first year and $10,000 each year thereafter. Equipment used by the girls’ team will be shared. First-year expenses will include the cost of uniforms. Other ongoing costs for the program will include hiring two coaches and fees for travel, officiating and tournaments. The teams will not participate in the WIAA tournament series until the school fields a varsity team in 2019.

Hamilton girls will have the opportunity to participate in a tri-op gymnastics team with Germantown and Menomonee Falls high schools. Like the girls and boys hockey programs, student participants will bear the cost of the program which will include practice time at a private gymnastic club until 2019 when Germantown’s new field house will be built. Four or five Hamilton girls are expected to participate in the winter sport. The advantage in forming a cooperative team is reduced gymnastics studio costs and the ability to compete in WIAA competition.

In addition to approving new team opportunities, the School Board approved a two-year renewal of the girls’ swimming and diving co-op with Menomonee Falls.

10 high schoolers recognized

School Board members recognized the accomplishment of 10 Hamilton High School students. Junior Andrew Tai was honored for attaining a perfect ACT score of 36 on the college-entrance exam.

Senior Rachel Jeffers was recognized for qualifying for state competition in cross country. Cross country athletes Peyton Feudner, Zachary Heckman, Gavin Kuhlenbeck, Nicholas Schmidt, Evan Selin, Garret Staab, Michael Swope and Brian Wiedenfeld were recognized for being members of the conference championship team.

Personnel action from Feb. 7 meeting

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved a half-time Willow Springs special education teacher and a part-time Maple Avenue special education paraprofessional for the remainder of the school year with funding to come from the Special Education Department budget;
  • accepted the resignations of Woodside psychologist Samantha Barsanti, English as a second language teacher Lynn Panek Heeren, Maple Avenue Title I paraprofessional Stacie Benson and Templeton associate kitchen employee Marie Shoemaker;
  • appointed Lori Lange as a Hamilton cook, Matthew Nicolai as a Templeton supervision paraprofessional and Susan Passow as a Woodside special services paraprofessional; and
  • modified the contract of Willow Springs special education teacher Melanie Vonachen from half- to full-time.