November 7, 2006

Board frustrated over more reporting requirements
School Board members expressed frustration with new regulations that they say will pull away special education staff from serving the needs of children while they are busy collecting data for obscure state and federal reports. The latest set of reporting requirements hitting school districts includes the Department of Public Instruction’s “20 Indicators” and the “Public Agency Procedural Compliance Self-Assessment.”

All school districts are required to report on the “20 Indicators,” but only one-fifth of Wisconsin school districts must conduct the self-assessment in a given year. In its first year of implementation, the self-assessment requirement fell on Hamilton.

Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman reported on requirements of both regulations which are Wisconsin’s response to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

She gave an example of one of the 20 indicators that deals with preschool outcomes. Staff must acquire entrance and exit data on every 3- to 5-year-old student identified with special education needs using a variety of measures. The evaluation must be conducted with a team of staff familiar with the child and parent in the areas of positive socio-emotional skills, acquiring and using knowledge and self-help skills.

“Even if there are no concerns other than speech or language, the student must be evaluated in all three areas,” Freeman reported.

When the evaluation is complete, a rating is determined using a Child Outcome Summary Form and the information is submitted on a web-based tool yet to be made available to school districts. Districts must follow each student and conduct another evaluation when he or she turns six or no longer needs special education services.

Freeman also reported on the extensive procedures involved with the department’s self-assessment. The department must:

  • form an ad hoc committee of parents and staff members;
  • review the reports, timelines and notices of 26 completed evaluations;
  • review 59 Individual Education Plans (IEP) and interview a regular education teacher, special education teacher and parent for each;
  • review 21 IEPs for students age 16 years and older;
  • compare data for students with disabilities against students without IEPs concerning suspensions, pre-expulsions and expulsions; and
  • conduct on-site interviews with all five parochial schools within the district, reviewing referral procedures and provision of services to students in private school.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., commended Special Education staff members for their willingness to deal with the difficult circumstances.

Lannon site plan approved
Two tactics in Lannon Elementary School’s site plan were retired and the remaining one was expanded following its annual update in October. Lannon Principal Richard Ladd reported on the accomplishments of the original strategies. They indicated that Lannon staff would maintain and enhance a positive culture, improve the building referral process to meet the needs of all students and enhance the schoolwide writing program.

Ladd shared test data that lead the school’s site planning team to develop new strategies in which students would:

  • develop writing, speaking and listening skills to become effective communicators in a global community;
  • develop social skills through meaningful collaboration with their peers and staff; and
  • demonstrate high-level thinking strategies to problem sole in math and content area reading.

Girls golf team recognized
Hamilton Athletic-Activities Director Mike Gosz presented members of the 2006 Girls Varsity Golf Team for recognition. Hamilton only began offering competitive girls golf five years ago, and Gosz said the program has grown by leaps and bounds. The team took third place in the Greater Metro Conference which is considered a tough league, according to Gosz. Eight seniors on the team were introduced and provided a certificate of accomplishment for their outstanding performance and their coach, Randy Howard, was introduced.

Personnel issues decided at regular meeting
In personnel business, the School Board appointed Sharon Piotrowski as the Hamilton instructional and supervision paraprofessional. She began her post Oct. 30.