October 1, 2002

Official enrollment reports sent to the state show that the Hamilton School District increased enrollment by 68 students from last year bringing the total student count to 4,103. The numbers are significant because revenue caps and state aid are determined based on the pupil count as of the third Friday in September each year.

School staff had estimated last spring that enrollment might increase by 25 students. As the start of school drew near, the anticipation of additional students allowed the School Board to add more contingency staff than the original plan included.

Individual school enrollments are: Willow – 231, Lannon ­ 309, Maple Avenue – 497, Marcy – 376, Woodside – 559, Templeton – 871 and Hamilton – 1,163. Another 97 district students are educated in other schools.

State tests change again

Changes are in store for the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) stemming from an agreement reached between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education. The state ran into trouble with requirements of the new federal legislation known as officially as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and informally as the “Leave No Child Behind” law.

The federal agency ruled that Wisconsin was out of compliance with the new legislation because it did not assess all of its standards. As a result, WKCE – a series of exams required in grades 4, 8 and 10 in Wisconsin public schools – will change in 2002-03 to improve alignment between the test and state curriculum standards.

Educational Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., reported on the changes that include the following.

  • Additional test items were added, lengthening the time to take the test by one hour from six to seven hours at each grade level.
  • A customized assessment was developed based on the 12th grade standards for 10th-graders.
  • The test will be administered Nov. 4-22 instead of in February.
  • A new oral communication assessment will be added for fourth- and eighth-graders.
  • For the first time, all students will participate in testing, including the majority of special education and limited English proficiency students. A small number of special education students whose Individual Education Plan judges the regular test inappropriate will be given an alternate assessment.
  • Because of the changes in the testing instruments, new proficiency standards will be set in February. School districts will not be able to compare data from previous years’ results.

AODA services offered despite funding cuts

Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) programming continued in the district last year despite elimination of the district coordinator. Restructured services – including screening referrals, curriculum implementation, staff development and grant writing -were handled by various staff members with the help of AODA consultant Kristin Hasbrook.

Educational Services and Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz reported on activities planned for the coming year. They include:

  • Elementary AODA lessons – With the elimination of DARE funding from the county, fifth grade students will receive lessons from a guidance intern with help from the district police liaison officer;
  • Referral services – The process will continue with counselors, athletic director and AODA consultant providing parents with assistance in finding appropriate community services;
  • Grant writing – The consultant will write grants with the first being funding for Project Graduation and post-prom activities;
  • Peer mediation – Middle school students volunteer to be trained in participate in this initiative; and
  • Staff development – Limited funds will be available for teaching training in the summer of 2003.

Board postpones vote on Employment Endorsement

School Board members chose to delay a decision calling for modifications in the high school Employment Endorsement program. The program began in 1992 as Diploma Endorsement and was intended to be a link between school and business. Businesses were asked to use it in student hirings because it provided evidence that students possessed qualities of effective workers. Later, the program became voluntary and participation dropped until it was again revised and became a requirement if students wanted to get a commons pass.

The proposal before School Board members was to require it of all students involved in work-based learning including co-ops, youth apprenticeships and the Learning in Action Build-a-House program. It would be available for all other students who chose to participate. It would no longer be required to obtain a commons pass and students would be encouraged to present the Employment Endorsement card to employers during the hiring process.

School Board Member Jennifer Rude Klett said she did not see compelling evidence that the program should be continued.

“Administrators’ time is so valuable, I hate to see time used on something that may not be effective,” she said.

A member of the original Waukesha County School-to-Work Consortium that was formed among all county school districts in 1992, School Board Member Gabe Kolesari expressed concerns about burdening employers with additional work. He asked to have the matter postponed until administrators could provide information about how other Waukesha County school districts are using the program, if at all.

Summer school enjoys success

More than 1,300 students participated in the district’s summer school program this year, reported Summer Opportunities Coordinator and Lannon Principal Dick Ladd.

Ladd and Summer Opportunities staff Marlene Helinski and John Vitale provided data about the summer’s success including a:

  • 15 percent increase in enrollment;
  • 55 percent increase in sections offered;
  • financial balance of $60,723 after expenses were covered; and
  • 98 percent agreement from parents who said in surveys that their child had a good experience.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke noted that the additional revenue from summer school helped fund a contingency position this year.

Ladd recommended for 2003: course offerings enhancement, early high school course promotion, traffic police availability on the first days of school and the exploration of offering an invitational 5K program for students who will enter first grade.

Personnel actions

In personnel business, the School Board approved the appointments of Hamilton teacher aide Kim Ebenhoch, Hamilton interim associate principal Joel Been, Templeton teacher aide Linda Ostlie, Woodside teacher aide Robert Groth, Maple Avenue teacher aide Christine Klesius and Maple Avenue teacher aide Melissa Mortl.