November 19, 2001

High school looks at schedule options for band

A team of staff members and band parents will make recommendations to School Board members to provide more flexibility for students wanting to participate in the Hamilton High School Band.

The Band Block Committee will suggest ways the high school can retain band members. Because the high school has a four-period schedule, students who take band use two elective credits each year to participate in the 90-minute class. Parents and students have indicated that a one-credit band course would provide an additional elective option and would make it easier for students to stay in band.

Principal David Furrer reported that the committee formed last February and conducted research on ways other schools that have a four-period day offer band. The committtee will recommend a plan Dec. 4 to the School Board that will involve offering a 90-minute band class every other day with various required courses offered on the opposite day. For example, in ninth grade students would take band one day and then have physical education and personal fitness. Other classes opposite the band class would be physical education and health in 10th grade, citizenship in 11th grade and communication arts or and independent study in 12th grade.

Furrer explained that the committee wanted to offer required courses on the off day because if students did not like the elective courses offered, they would be in the same situation they are in now and may choose to quit band rather than taking an unwanted elective.

The committee will also look into offering band during Zero Hour, which would be before first period. Other long-term options include adding instrumental music electives such as music theory or jazz band. beginning in 2003-04.

The School Board will consider the committee’s recommendation at its next meeting.

Seats available for Open Enrollment, Chapter 220

The board increased the number of seats available for the Open Enrollment Program from 47 to 78 students and for the Chapter 220 Program from 95 to 105 slots. The Open Enrollment Program allows students to transfer to any district in the the state, but parents are responsible for transportation. Chapter 220 is the nation’s only voluntary two-way city-suburban integration program. Minority students from Milwaukee Public Schools are able to enroll in suburban schools, and openings in MPS are available to resident students. Transportation is provided for Chapter 220 students.

Schultz reports on class size reduction

Educational Services and Human Resources Assistant Superindent Dean Schultz reviewed the district’s class size policy and practices. Current policy states that:

  • primary grades (K-3) average class size should be 22;
  • average class size in grades 4-12 should be 25; and
  • effort should be made to avoid exceeding 25 students in the primary grades and 30 students in grades 4-12.

Schultz presented charts that show class sizes across the district are below the upper limits and most are below the recommended averages. The district has reduced average class sizes in the past five years.

If further class size reductions were considered, personnel costs would be added and additional classrooms would be necessary. Reducing average class sizes by three students would costs an additional $620,000 for new teaching staff and could not be accommodated in the number of classrooms available in throughout the district.

School Board President Gerald Schmitz said that reducing class sizes at the elementary and middle school levels seemed to be important to parents last year.

But School Board member Jennifer Rude Klett said she was comfortable with current class sizes and thought the School Board administration was sensitive to parent requests.

“Even if we were to get a truckload of money, I would prefer to spend the money in other ways rather than reduce class size,” Rude Klett said.

She said she would be interested in teacher pay for performance.

“I would rather get better teachers than have more teachers,” she said.

Marcy Site Plan approved

Marcy Principal Donald Behrens, Ph.D., gave an overview of the school’s progress and new identified tactics. Behrens reported that on all measures of student academic achievement, Marcy students continued to perform well. Parent surveys indicate that school climate is positive, and teachers and parent involvement are considerd the school’s greatest strengths.

The site planning team identified the following new tactics in which Marcy will:

  • create and disseminate a vision statement;
  • improve communication among all members of the Marcy community;
  • increase student achievement across grade elevels through curriculum articulation; and
  • improve achievement for each individual learner through effective and innovative practices.

Election schedule given

Schmitz listed dates from the 2001-2002 election schedule. Among them were the Dec. 21 deadline for incumbents to announce their non-candidacy, Jan. 2 deadline for candidacy declaration and nominations papers, Feb. 19 primary election if needed, April 2 spring election and April 22 School Board members take office. The positions of James Long, who represents the Village of Lannon, and Michael Hyland, who is an at-large representative, are up for election.

Co-curricular report given

Athletic-Activities Director Mike Gosz described accomplishments in co-curricular areas. Recommendations to the School Board included:

  • consider a separate soccer stadium southeast of the high school and adding a fieldhouse;
  • replace aging weight room equipment;
  • resurface rather than filling cracks on the tennis courts;
  • provide extra pay for coaches whose students advance in WIAA tournaments;
  • explore a proposal from the Greater Metro Conference to adjust sports schedules to retain athletes who are being lost because school begins after Labor Day;
  • purchase new compliance pole vault pits;
  • add a full-time strength and conditioning coach;
  • buy new catching masks;
  • add an infield mix to the baseball field for adequate drainage; and
  • replace the Little Theater light board that is more than 30 years old.

Personnel changes approved

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Maple Avenue assistant cook Janet Zyduck, Woodside teacher aide Heather Blum and Maple Avenue teacher aide Janet Hassert; and
  • appointed Christopher Mack as a district maintenance employee.