July 16, 2012

Hamilton School Board members approved an overall 1.64 percent salary increase for teachers. The increase is retroactive for the 2011-12 school year and reflects the amount established by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission as the rate of inflation.

Provisions put in place last year for most district employees included employee-paid retirement contributions, reduction in sick leave, adjustments to the health insurance plan and implementation of a dress code. Custodians and paraprofessionals, whose contracts had not expired, were not subject to the changes last year. Paraprofessionals see the changes put in effect this year with the expiration of their contract on June 30. The custodian and maintenance staff contract expires in June of 2013.

Last year’s changes provided significant savings. The district saved nearly $1.4 million in healthcare costs, $50,000 in sick leave expenses and eliminated a $32 million post-employment benefit liability by switching from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution plan.

Employee handbooks updated, approved

The School Board approved new and updated handbooks for six employee groups including teaching staff, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, confidential support staff, administrators and kitchen staff. The structure of the handbook for each group is similar to the one adopted last year for professional teaching staff. Updates from last year’s handbook includes information about state-required child abuse and neglect reporting, clarification of the Family Medical Leave Act, inclusion of a retirement notification date and minor grammatical and format revisions.

Sheriff’s officer honored for service to district

Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department officer Mark Nihoris was recognized for serving as the district police-liaison officer since 1999. He will return to working in the community as a street officer.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., said Nihoris provided loyal service to the district in many ways. He planned mock drills with other emergency agencies, provided input to the district’s crisis management plan and developed relationships with students to help them make good decisions. In addition, he served as the high school’s Bowling Club advisor and attended many athletic events.

Personal finance, art students recognized

Hamilton students who performed well in the National Financial Capability Challenge were recognized for their success. Those who attended the meeting were Allison Bitz, Daniel Smith and Elizabeth Voss.

Art students Emily Blackwell, Emma Chung, Samantha Englert and Maya Pechenova, whose works were chosen for permanent display in the Hamilton Fine Arts Center, were each presented with a $100 check.

New teacher program to focus on instructional coaching

Changes designed to enhance instructional practice among the district’s new teaching staff will be implemented as part of the New Teacher Induction and Coaching Program. All new teachers will be assigned a district mentor for one year, attend five Southeastern Wisconsin New Teacher Project seminars and participate in a two-day district orientation. They will also receive services from an external instructional coach who provide observations and follow-up meetings for two years for teachers in their first two years of teaching, and one year for teachers with more experience.

In the past, the program operated as a buddy system with internal staff providing day-to-day organizational information. Only teachers who taught more than 50 percent were included. The changes will mean that all teachers will be involved with a greater focus on instructional coaching. The program’s goal is to ensure that newly-hired teachers understand district instructional expectations and are provided support to meet them.

School Board Member Deborah Briggs said she liked the changes especially in covering all new teachers. She said the program will be one more aspect that will attract new teachers to Hamilton.

Curriculum approved

The elementary writing curriculum and secondary literary strategies resources documents were approved.

Personnel business

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Maple Avenue special education paraprofessional Kurt Leapley and Templeton Title I paraprofessional Chelsea Cerwin; and
  • appointed David Wolter as a Hamilton special education paraprofessional, increasing his contract to 7.5 hours a day.