June 7, 2005

State’s threatened elimination of 4K program causes lay-off notices

The threat from state Legislators to cut funding for 4-year-old kindergarten programming resulted in the School Board’s approval to send layoff notices to three additional teachers.

State Legislators have proposed elimination of state aid for 4-year-old kindergarten programs as one measure to reduce the state deficit. If that occurs, the district may be forced to close Willow Springs Learning Center where 200 to 300 4-year-olds attended the optional half-day program each year since 1999.

While the program at Willow Springs is affected, the layoff notices will go to elementary staff with the least seniority in the district because 4K staff would take positions in other elementary schools. Layoff notices would have been sent to more staff members were it not for some open positions at the elementary level.

School officials are holding out hope that if the Joint Finance Committee prepares a budget with 4K state aid elimination, Governor Jim Doyle will veto it. In that case, the three teachers issued layoff notices would be recalled. Still, others are concerned that Legislators would override the governor’s veto. The state budget may not be decided until July.

In an unusual move, the School Board took action to approve an appointment for a new Woodside first grade teacher, only to approve her layoff notice in the next motion. School Board member Deborah Briggs said that approving Rebecca McGinley’s appointment as the Woodside first grade teacher would give her the ability to be recalled if 4K funding remained.

School Board member Gerald Schmitz and Board President Gabe Kolesari called on state lawmakers to take notice of the impact their decisions have on students and parents in the school district.

District recognizes three student groups

Three different groups representing elementary, middle and high school students were recognized.

Lannon Elementary School students in Christopher Hunkins, Katie Bernard and Nancy Collopy’s classes participated in the “Museum Class Research Project.” Principal Richard Ladd explained that a museum educator visited their school to discuss the role of the museum. Each class chose a research topic that included “Fur Traders and Explorers,” “Immigrants” and “Native Americans.” They visited the museum to begin their research and see the European Village where they presented their program to museum visitors on May 18. The students provided School Board members with an opportunity to hear their presentations.

Templeton Middle School Student Council Advisors Arlyn Clarksen and Rhonda Watton presented the Student Council eighth grade officers and committee chairs for School Board recognition.

Hamilton High School Robotic Advisor John Budish recognized the students and mentors who participated in the team’s outstanding season. Students also provided a demonstration of the robot for board members.

Dairyland transportation contract extension approved

The School Board approved a 2-year extension to the district’s transportation contract. The district is in year two of a 5-year contract, which Dairyland-Hamilton asked to be extended through 2009-10. In return for the extension, Dairyland will provide a one-time $17,000 credit to the district. It also will purchase 13 new buses for the upcoming school year. The cost of services is tied to price indexes. Annual costs increases have been 3 percent in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and 3.3 percent in 2005-06.

School Board member Gerald Schmitz was the only board members voting against the motion because he said he thought the district could get a better deal than the $17,000 one-time payment for the 2-year extension. Business Services Director Bryan Ruud noted that the district has the seventh lowest transportation costs among 10 area district even though Hamilton transports a greater percentage of its students than most districts.

Student handbook revisions approved

Changes to student handbooks for high, middle and elementary schools were approved. Hamilton Associate Principal Craig Brimacombe, Templeton Associate Principal Dale Kuntz and Marcy Principal Don Behrens, Ph.D., updated the board on changes that were made.

Personnel changes OK’d

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Amy Hernandez, Business Office accounts payable administrative assistant, and Tanina Lea, Maple Avenue Special Education paraprofessional;
  • approved a leave of absence for Hamilton Learning Disabilities teacher Hilda Dombeck;
  • appointed Rebecca McGinley as the Woodside first grade teacher, Laurie Roth as Instructional Services administrative assistant, Angela Selkie as Lannon administrative assistant, Kevin Schein, as district grounds keeper, Cheryl Johnson as a district social worker, and Linda Ostlie as Marcy administrative assistant;
  • approved the lay-off of part-time Templeton Spanish and business education teacher Margaret Bauer due to the restructuring of the school day to meet state revenue caps;
  • approved lay-offs of Hamilton mathematics teacher Dan Krill from full- to half-time and Hamilton technology education teacher Steven Campeau from full-time to 83 percent due to lower student demand for classes in those areas and the loss of outside funding for a technology education teacher; and
  • approved lay-offs of Willow Springs kindergarten teacher Lynn Richmond, Woodside first grade teacher Rebecca McGinley and Marcy fourth grade teacher Pam Biron due to the uncertainty of state funding for the 4K program.