June 3, 2014

Addition of 700 laptops has impact in classrooms

Hamilton School Board members heard from library-media specialists what the impact of having 700 additional laptops in the schools has meant for learning. Maple Avenue Elementary School’s Brian Latus, Templeton Middle School’s Anita Paque and Hamilton High School’s Jacque Gorski thanked the board for its decision 16 months ago to lease computers beyond the district regular technology replacement cycle. With the additional laptops, schools could create computer-on-wheels smart carts that allowed teachers to roll 15 or more wireless computers into a classroom.

The move provided 28 carts among the four elementary schools, 12 carts at the middle school and 15 carts at the high school. The infusion of laptops, according to the library media specialists, allow teachers to provide high quality instruction and learning opportunities for students including differentiating instruction, completing assessments, accessing school library collections and research tools, participating in flipped classes and having support for reading and writing initiatives.

Cost for the four-year laptop lease was $399,026 with an additional cost of $112,719 for purchase of the carts. The specialists reported that the carts are booked solid at least 70 percent of the school day, which led School Board Member Jim Long to ask if the district had enough laptops. Information Technology Manager Ryan McMillan said he doubted it.

“Our carts are almost at maximum capacity,” McMillan said. “I don’t think we do at this point, especially considering our labs will be blocked out for three weeks for smarter balanced testing.”

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke noted that the intention of the presentation was to show that technology was being used for high quality, rigorous instruction. She said the district could not afford to have a 1-to-1 student-to-computer ratio due to budget, but the goal is to balance high quality instruction using technology.

Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., noted that with the approval of the laptop lease the district “has come so far.”

 

Students, staff recognized

Hamilton School Board members recognized several students and staff members including:

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  • High school DECA members Yuchun Wang, Therese Merkel and Rohan Washikar for their success competition at the International Career Development Conference (not able to attend were Grace Modl and Jessica Neumann);

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  • Hamilton Student Council Advisor Misty Draeger, who was chosen the Wisconsin Association of School Councils (WASC) advisor of the year, and Principal Candis Mongan, who previously was selected WASC administrator of the year; and

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  • Hamilton Band Director Jon Waite who received the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee teacher of the year award.

Maple Avenue Readers’ Café highlighted

Details of a program that brings senior volunteers to Maple Avenue Elementary School to mentor and read with students over their lunch hours was presented by Becky Hubred, Seniors and Students program support, Maple Avenue’s reading specialist Heidi Spingola and principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin. Readers’ Cafe started in 2012-13 at Maple Avenue Elementary School with five volunteers who were recruited from the Sussex Senior Center. It expanded in 2013-14 to eight volunteers who reached more than 50 students.

Students have lunch in the school library every other week for five weeks with their Readers’ Café volunteer who reads with them. The goal is to reach students who would enjoy and benefit from having one-on-one time with a caring adult.

Committee choses CESA model for staff evaluation

School Board members approved the Supervision-Evaluation Committee report as presented by Human Resources Director John Roubik. The committee recommended using the CESA #6 Effectiveness Project instead of the Department of Public Instruction’s Educator Effectiveness model because the CESA #6 project offered greater customization for alignment to the district’s strategic vision, a more compact framework to offer feedback to staff and a technology platform which is easy to navigate and ready for implementation.

Next years’ staff development presented

Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., presented the 2014-15 Professional Development Plan as developed by the Professional Development Planning Team. The plan forecasts areas of training in the coming year which include the new student information system, Effectiveness Project, vertical teaming, personalized learning, elementary English language arts curriculum implementation and new teacher orientation.

Personnel news

In personnel business, the School Board revised and added new position descriptions for administrative assistants. The revision – which was not spurred by existing problems, but by the district’s legal counsel recommendation to comply with Fair Labor Standards guidelines – specifies that responsibilities are to be performed on school premises and within established work hours. The new position description allows the high school to have an 11-month position instead of all positions being year-round.

In other personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Hamilton assistant cook Sandy Douglas and Templeton special services paraprofessional Amy Helgeson;
  • appointed George Murillo as custodian at Marcy Elementary School;
  • modified the contract of Hamilton reading specialist Lynn Panek-Heeren from 50 to 67 percent; and
  • adjusted salary for specific professional staff based on market factors.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • approved participation for 2014-15 in the Southeastern Wisconsin School Alliance including Suburban Schools Legislative Committee Affiliation at a cost of $3,000 for each group;
  • approved continued partnership with Elmbrook School District to hire a Mandarin teacher who teaches a shared course offered to both Elmbrook and Hamilton students;
  • approved Special Education Procedures Handbook, Emergency Nursing Services Policies and Procedures and Bloodborne Pathogens Procedures as presented by Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman; and
  • received 198 applications from nonresident students for acceptance under Open Enrollment. No spaces are available in the district, so applicants were placed on a waiting list for the 2014-15 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.