March 17, 2003

High school Honors Program marked with positive feedback, increasing enrollments

In its second year of implementation, the Hamilton High School Honors Program is earning high marks from students who have enrolled in its classes, but the district will not know until May whether student achievement has increased as a result. Hamilton Principal David Furrer reported to School Board members that 120 students enrolled in four honors courses offered in 2001-02, the inaugural year of the program. Some 217 students are enrolled this year in six honors courses.

Students enrolled in honors courses this year were surveyed about factors related to motivation, challenge, rigor, technology, high teacher standards, interest and variety of instructional strategies. Results showed that students judged the courses favorably.

In open-ended responses, students indicated that the amount of work assigned, homework and writing expectations were greater in honors courses. They said they enjoyed the quality of the teacher, in-depth discussions and labs, and learning new ways to write and research. The high expectations of the courses will benefit them as they prepare for college, according to some students.

Honors courses available this year were Biology, Communication Arts 9 and 10, Integrated Science, World Cultures and 20th Century U.S. History.

Furrer said honors course teachers will meet in May to analyze standardized test results and may recommend changes to the curriculum if necessary.

Building and Grounds matters approved

Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Jim Long reported that work was continuing on the two projects approved by voters in November. Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held June 3 for the Marcy Elementary School addition and renovation project and June 10 for the Hamilton High School fine arts and Learning Center addition.

The district will save $35,000 to $40,000 per year, increase classroom and gymnasium light levels and reduce maintenance costs by retrofitting lighting at the high school. The School Board approved a low bid from Energy Resources to replace all T-12 florescent lighting with a more energy efficient T-8 system. Also, the company will install automatic lighting sensors in the gymnasiums so that lighting levels can be turned down during noncompetitive events. The Energy Resources bid was $192,000, but a Focus on Energy grant will provide $18,500 for the project. Total cost to the district will be $173,500. Payback on the project is expected to be about 4.6 years.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Jeffrey Grove said work on the project will be at night and should be completed by June.

Youth Options Program courses approved

Requests from Michelle Burkhalter, Joshua Greene, Jaqualynne Herrmann, Brian Schlei, Norma-Jean Simon and Kelsie Trip to take WCTC courses next year under the Youth Options Program were approved. The program offers juniors and seniors in good academic standing who have no disciplinary problems the opporunity to attend a college or university. The high school pays tuition for the classes.

NCA accreditation process approved

The School Board authorized participation in the North Central Accreditation (NCA) process at Templeton Middle School for a cost of $700 and at Hamilton for a cost of $850. The accreditation process helps schools focus on school improvements related to student outcomes. It aligns with the district’s site planning process and responds to the public’s demand for greater accountability. Hamilton has been a part of the NCA accreditation process since 1966 and Templeton since 1997.

Additional early graduation request granted

School Board members agreed to allow junior Kailyn Curtis to graduate early in January, 2004. Her application was submitted after the Jan. 15 deadline because she was in Australia as part of a student exchange program. Furrer recommended that the School Board approve her application for early graduation because of the special circumstances. He said she met all the other requirements for early graduation. Curtis joins six other juniors who had been approved for 2004 early graduation at a previous meeting.

Community members recognized

Members who retired from the district’s Strategic Planning team were recognized. They were Joanne Swanson, Diane Wendelberger, Steven Campeau, Eileen Swierczek, Steve Pehowski and Theresa Danner. Those unable to attend were Bill Cassidy and Jodi Tarala.

Jeff Millbrath, a Woodside Elementary School parent, and his employer, Sharp Packaging Company, were thanked by School Board members for the generous donation of WeatherNet equipment that will connect Woodside to a national weather reporting system. Students will use the computerized equipment that is connected to Fox 6 News to study weather.

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board appointed Anne Nitschke to a Templeton Middle School teacher aide-bookkeeper position. Nitschke had been performing the job in addition to being a substitute caller, and now will do just bookkeeping responsibilities.