September 17, 2018

Board considers removing graduation ceremony details from policy

School Board members are considering a policy change to eliminate the time, date and location of Hamilton High School graduation ceremonies. Currently, the policy states that graduation ceremonies will be held the first Saturday following the completion of the school year, at 1 p.m. in the high school gym.

By eliminating the language, the School Board will be able to consider other options for graduation ceremonies, including having it outdoors as was done in the past. The change was presented to the School Board for the first time. The policy change proposal will come before the board again before it takes action.

High school rigor evident in results

Because Hamilton High School rewrote its main goal and tactics last year, this year’s site team chose to reaffirm its current framework and goal that states, “Students will increase their literacy skills and social-emotional wellness to be prepared to meet the demands of college, career and global competition.”

Hamilton High School Principal Candis Mongan reported on the school’s progress. Hamilton saw greater participation in Advanced Placement courses with continued high achievement in the last three years. The number of exams taken, sections offered, students taking exams and pass rate of 3 or higher all went up in the past year. The participation rate compared to three years ago was up markedly. Typically as more students take rigorous exams, test scores drop. This was not the case at Hamilton.

Year Exams taken Sections offered Students Score 3+
2015-16 573 40 358 85.9%
2016-17 664 46 411 81.5%
2017-18 722 48 440 83.0%

In another measure of school rigor, the Challenge Index increased to +1.95 in 2017-18, up from +1.90 in 2016-17 and +1.57 in 2015-16. Challenge Index represents the availability of advanced coursework in the school’s curriculum. Because many more students are taking AP exams, the school’s Challenge Index score increased to its highest level in school history.

Throughout the state, ACT scores dropped for the class of 2016 because as juniors in 2015, they were the first class in which all juniors in Wisconsin public high schools were required to take the test. The ACT composite score for Hamilton’s class of 2015 was 24.5, and dropped to 22.3 for the class of 2016. It rebounded to 23.0 for the class of 2017.

In addition to test results, Hamilton was named to U.S. News and World Report’s “Best High Schools” list five of the last six years, Advanced Placement Honor Roll four of the last five years and Washington Post’s “Most Challenging High Schools” list three of the last four years.

Lannon site focuses on literacy, social-emotional goals

Lannon Elementary School Principal Brian Balfany presented his school’s site plan update. He reported on the progress of last year’s tactics which focused primarily on literacy and social-emotional goals while embedding practices that will promote students’ positive well-being. Again, Lannon was recognized as a school that “significantly exceeds expectations” on the State Report Card. The site team identified that early intervention in kindergarten and grade 1 has had a positive impact on state Forward Exam results.

Summer Opportunities reports on successful year

Summer Opportunities Coordinator and Lannon Principal Brian Balfany gave the School Board an update on the 2018 program. A total of 2,004 students in grades 4K to 11 enrolled in classes, 31 fewer students than in 2017. Combined, 121 teachers were employed, a majority of whom were Hamilton School District staff. In all, 219 employees were employed including three administrative assistants, 32 paraprofessionals, 58 student teaching assistants, one coordinator and four assistant coordinators. The staff count represents a 10 percent reduction from last year and 35 percent over the past two years.

Recommendations for next year include:

  • scheduling the summer program to be in session June 19 – July 17 with days off on July 4 and 5;
  • enhancing course offerings;
  • continue training math instructors in Everyday Math strategies and reading teachers in Reader’s Workshop, as was done this year;
  • exploring recovery credit make-up and credit acquisition opportunities; and
  • increasing enrollment of students invited to take mathematics or reading.

List of TSA vendors narrows to 4

Hamilton School District employees will have one less vendor to choose from if they participate in payroll deductions for tax sheltered annuities. The list is now Axa Equitable, VOYA Financial Advisors, Oppenheimer Funds and WEA. Annuity Premium Account – Kemper, which previously was on the list, was omitted because there is no longer a local presence for employees to access.

Paraprofessional position added

A part-time special education paraprofessional position was added at Lannon Elementary School due to increased needs. The position will be the equivalent of a 94 percent position.

Personnel news

In personnel action, the School Board:

  • approved the retirement of Lannon music teacher Eileen Casper, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year;
  • appointed Carol Hamilton as a Lannon associate kitchen employee, Jennifer Adams as a Maple Avenue paraprofessional and Cynthia Dow as a Templeton paraprofessional; and
  • modified the contract of Templeton speech-language pathologist Kristin Muehlenbach due to increase caseload.