July 21, 2003

Voters approve tax levy at Annual Meeting

Approximately 30 Hamilton School District residents approved the 2003-04 tax levy at the July 21 Annual Meeting. The 2003-04 budget totaled $36,537,387 with the local levy – the portion of the budget paid through local property taxes – amounting to $21,992,117.

With an anticipated increase of 39 additional students, the numbers represent a 3.81 percent increase in spending over last year’s budget of $35,196,764.

The proposed budget calls for a property tax rate of $11.70 per $1,000 of equalized value versus last year’s rate of $11.04 per $1,000 of value. The owner of property valued at $100,000 can expect to pay $1,170 – up from last year’s total of $1,104 – in property taxes to support schools.

This is a increase of 66 cents per $1,000 of property value, and includes debt service for the Marcy Elementary School addition-renovation project, Hamilton High School fine arts center addition and 2003-04 operations.

The state’s budget crisis had an impact on the Hamilton School District’s budget-building process this year. Normally, school districts rely on financial data from the state to determine their budgets. The state Legislature determines the amount of state aid districts will receive and caps the per pupil expenditure increase. To provide Hamilton citizens with the most up-to-date information regarding the tax levy, the School Board postponed the Annual Meeting from June 16 to July 21 in hopes that the state budget would be passed.

The state Assembly and Senate passed a budget that was forwarded to Governor James Doyle for his consideration. Before the Assembly-Senate was approved, the governor proposed a budget in April. The Hamilton School District built its budget on the Governor’s original proposal that required $551,000 of reductions to comply with current revenue caps. The Senate and Assembly budget would require the district to cut an additional $680,000 on top of cuts already made.

School officials believe that the levy presented to voters at the Annual Meeting is the maximum levy expected and might be lower when the state budget is finalized. The state Department of Public Instruction will verify revenue amounts in October. The district expects to make adjustments to the budget then.

The 2003-04 budget was broken down into revenues and expenses. Revenues are:

  • Local tax levy – 51.11%
  • State aids – 46.19%
  • Local aid – 1.67%
  • Interdistrict aid – 1.03%

Expenses are:

  • Salaries – 56.79%
  • Fringe benefits – 23.85%
  • Purchased services – 14.26%
  • Non-capital objects – 2.58%
  • Insurance & judgements – 0.87%
  • Capital objects – 1.11%
  • Debt retirement – 0.27%
  • Other objects – 0.26%

In addition to passing the tax levy, residents also approved three other resolutions that dealt with matters normally handled at the Annual Meeting.

Instead of suggesting an increase, School Board member Gerald Schmitz presented a motion to reduce the School Board annual salary about 10 percent — from $4,080 to $3,670. Schmitz said he felt that the difficult budget situation at the state and district level warranted the salary reduction. Waukesha County Supervisor and district resident Joe Marchese offered an amendment to reduce the board’s salary 25 percent, but the amendment did not pass. The 10-percent salary reduction was approved.

Voters also approved resolutions allowing School Board members to be reimbursed for expenses incurred while performing their duties and permitting the district to sell or dispose of surplus property.

Reading program highlighted at regular meeting

Instructional Services Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., presented data about the success of the district’s Early Reading Empowerment Program that is designed to meet needs of children who experience difficulty as they learn to read.

Data from the 2002-03 Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test shows that no students who had participated in the program when they were first-graders scored at the minimal level two years later. Proficiency levels on the test — in ascending order — are minimal, basic, proficient and advanced proficient. Two-thirds of ERE-served students scored at the proficent level, 19 percent were advanced proficient and 14 percent were at the basic level when they took the test which is given to all Wisconsin public school third-graders.

First grade teachers assess student in early fall to identify those in need of additional reading support. The children with the most significant needs are the first students served and most children “graduate frorm the program and additional students are then served.

All of ther district’s first grade, ERE and primary level special education teachers, along with reading specialists are ERE-trained. In addition to helping students one-on-one, teachers apply ERE strategies in their classrooms so that all student benefit from strong reading instruction.

Superintendent noted that Hamilton third-graders who scored in the proficient and advanced categories in creased from 76.7 percent in 1998-99 to 93.1 percent in 2002-03 which is the fourth highest percentage among Waukesha County school districts.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Templeton Learning Disabilities teacher Janet Brueggeman;
  • modified the writing resource teacher contracts of Sue Ladd from .7 to 1.0 full-time equivalency (FTE) and Elizabeth Flehmer from .8 to 1.0 FTE; and
  • appointed Toni Lynn Wainio as a Hamilton science teacher, Colleen Richards as a Maple Avenue guidance counselor intern, Melissa Burke as a Hamilton and Templeton transitions guidance counselor, Becky Bergemann as a Maple Avenue early childhood teacher, Nicole Farrar as a elementary teacher, Joanne Kubisch as Woodside teacher, Jennifer Reuter as a Maple Avenue physical education teacher, Melanie Moody as a replacement elementary teacher, Laura Vitale as a Woodside teacher aide, Beth Kauffeld as a part-time Woodside music teacher, and Kelly Flanagan as a Templeton communication arts and mathematics teacher.