October 18, 2010

Hamilton School Board certifies tax levy

Hamilton School Board members adopted a budget and certified a tax levy Oct. 18 that attempted to cushion taxpayers from the impact caused by a difficult economy and strained state finances. While in the past the addition of 63 new students to the district would have meant substantially more state funding to offset the expense of educating them, state aid to the district this year only held steady.

The result is that the local levy – revenue generated through local property taxes – will pick up a greater share of costs. The total gross levy will increase 3.49 percent, from $29.83 million in 2009-10 to $30.87 million in 2010-11. The local levy will cover 55 percent of the district budget and state funding will contribute 41 percent with the remainder coming from federal aid and other local fees. This is a change because in the past 20 years, state aid typically supplied more than half of the district’s revenue.

The School Board approved a total budget of $50.19 million, which represents a 3.03 percent increase in spending. School officials anticipated this summer that the budget would increase by 2.79 percent, but that projection was based on an enrollment increase of only 30 new students.

Decreased property value had a further influence on the school tax rate. Property value in the district fell 2.54 percent, which is less than many Waukesha County communities and the state average, but contributed to a mill rate increase from $9.54 to $10.18 per $1,000 of property value.

The School Board took action previously to mitigate the impact on taxpayers including using $200,000 of interest earnings to buy down the tax rate, refinancing long-term debt which saved taxpayers $725,000 this year, and underspending the budget last year to reduce expenses. 

Each October, the School Board must adopt the budget, certify the tax levy and establish the tax rate after the Department of Revenue determines property values in the district. Tax bills are sent to property owners in December.

Teachers demonstrate SmartBoard technology

Four teachers demonstrated how SmartBoards are integrated into classroom instruction. Marcy music specialist Rod Loren, Ph.D., Templeton science teachers Laura Jennaro and Marie Kramer, and Hamilton science teacher Toni Lynn Wainio gave brief overviews of how they use the technology with students. They emphasized that SmartBoards allow for greater interaction with students, promotes 21st century skills and allows for a wide variety of material to be used seamlessly in the classroom. 

Hamilton joins CESA E4E consortium

The district will join 18 other southeastern Wisconsin school districts in participating in the CESA #1 Education For Employment consortium. The state Department of Public Instruction notified the district in December that its Education For Employment plan was in good order except that it did not designate a local vocational education coordinator (LVEC). No one in the district has the LVEC licensure.

By becoming a district member of the CESA #1 consortium, the district can take advantage of the consortium’s LVEC. The cost for the contracted services with CESA #1 is taken out of Carl Perkin federal grant funds.

District holds Chapter 220, Open Enrollment numbers

The number of seats available for students to enroll in the district though the Chapter 220 will remain at 110 students and no new Open Enrollment students are recommended for the 2011-12 school year. The School Board voted to maintain the number of students in the Chapter 220 Program contingent on continued full funding from the state.

Chapter 220 is a voluntary integration program that brings Milwaukee Public Schools students to suburban districts. The Open Enrollment Program allows students to attend school in other districts if space allows. The number of incoming seats has been limited in the past several years because of space availability.

Parents will be invited to apply to a waiting list that will be reviewed in early spring.

Youth Options requests approved

A total of 27 high school students requested admission to the Youth Options Program that will allow them to take classes next semester at Waukesha County Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and Mount Mary College. Often, students who have been approved for Youth Options are not able to take the courses because of scheduling conflicts or full classes.

Youth Options is a program mandated by the state that allows students who have completed 10th grade, are in good academic standing and have no disciplinary problems to attend a technical college or university if they have exhausted their high school curriculum.