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District Blog

This is the official online blog for the Shorewood School District. All content is created and published by Shorewood School District staff. The purpose of the District blog is to disseminate important information to the public in a timely and accurate way. The blog does not publish public comments, but does invite site visitors to submit comments, which are sent by email to District staff. Comments provide the District and the School Board with important feedback from community members regarding the blog posts, and then District staff respond as necessary to the feedback received. While all submitted comments are reviewed, the District does not reply to every comment that is submitted. Thank you for reading our blog.

Shorewood Recreation & Community Services Update

Dear Shorewood School Community Members,

Yesterday, many residents received their Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Summer Guide in the mail and expressed their disappointment regarding fees for some of the classes that had previously been offered free of charge. It was our intention to get the word out before the guide was distributed, and we apologize for our misstep, but we wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings and to explain the factors that contributed to this change.

Nearly seven years ago, the District made the decision to fund a number of summer recreation classes through summer school rather than through our Community Recreation Department. The reasoning behind this decision was that the District could then count summer school student participation in the formula through which the District receives its revenue from the State. If classes were full and students attended regularly (75% of the classes), this would then generate more funding than the fees charged through our Recreation Department.

This concept, however, has not been working well for the District. In fact, last year the District spent $138,000 more on summer school than it received in revenue. This was largely due to the fact that student participation in the enrichment courses decreased, which reduced the revenue to under what was previously received (as determined by a formula set by the Department of Public Instruction). Despite the fact that our Community Recreation Department regularly reminded families of the importance of attendance, we were still not able to get to a point where we generated the revenue needed to continue successfully.

Going forward, our plan is to charge reasonable fees for the summer enrichment classes through our Community Recreation Department and to entirely focus summer school on students needing additional academic support.

For comparison, the "Summer Strings" class registration fee in 2006 was $70 and included 15 classes, supplies, a T-shirt, a rehearsal, and a concert. The class fee was approximately $4.66 per class. Currently, the "Summer Strings" registration fee is $30 and includes 15 classes, supplies a T-shirt, a rehearsal, and a concert. The class fee is approximately $2 per class.

We understand that it's a financial hardship for some, so the Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department offers financial assistance to Shorewood residents in the following ways:

Payment Plans

If a participant is unable to pay their program fees in full at the time of registration, the Department offers a payment plan option.

Reduce / Waiver of Fees

The Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department recognizes that some of the resident of the Village of Shorewood may require financial assistance to participate in recreation programs. If your child attends Shorewood Public Schools and has qualified for Shorewood's Nutritional Services Free and Reduced Meal Program, your student and family members may receive the reduced program fees.

In addition to our District changes, there have also been a number of changes made at the State level regarding how school districts can use funds that come into the District to support community recreation programs. The funds used to support these efforts are located in "Fund 80". Fund 80 is revenue that comes into the District through recreation program revenue and Fund 80 tax levy support. This revenue is outside of funds that support our schools. Currently, the Shorewood School District has a surplus in Fund 80.

So, why would we not use the fund balance in Fund 80 to subsidize the Recreation Department courses? Some Fund 80 revenue does help to offset the operation of the Recreation Department, while participation fees cover the rest. However, the surplus in Fund 80 was intentionally developed through the years to support facility improvements where recreation programming takes place. For example, some of the Fund 80 balance has been spent on the VHE pool and the SIS and Atwater tennis courts. All of these are sizable expenditures and our Community Recreation Department has carefully utilized Fund 80 and the fees collected to effectively manage its budget and to build the surplus to support long-range plans such as the above.

Finally, there have been recent rule changes regarding the use of funds through Fund 80. These changes have recently limited how Fund 80 Community Services dollars can be used, and we are currently waiting to hear from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to see if school districts like Shorewood will be permitted to use these funds as planned.

Again we sincerely apologize for what feels to some as a sudden change, but we hope this communication helps clear up any misunderstandings. Our intent is to maximize how we use our available revenue as a school district and as a community recreation department. Making these changes and charging reasonable fees for community recreation classes is the correct fiscal approach, while still providing residents with high quality recreation opportunities in the summer and all year long.


Sincerely,

Marty Lexmond, Superintendent


Posted by kwatson on Tuesday March 24, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Giving Makes a DIfference

Giving can make a big difference in expanding learning opportunities for students in Shorewood Schools. The Shorewood SEED (Supporters of Excellence in Education Development) Foundation has helped raise over $200,000 annually to help fund projects, grants, and other various monetary needs of the Shorewood School District since 2003.

Lake Bluff Ambassador Program

A grant worth $1,339 was awarded to former Lake Bluff School Counselor Brenda Dell to fund the Lake Bluff Ambassador Program (LBA). The Ambassador Program provides experiential learning opportunities for 5th and 6th grade students to learn and practice leadership skills, character traits, and other academic strengths. There are four faces to the program: leadership training and development, tutoring, joining and leading interest groups, and community service projects. Current Lake Bluff Counselor Meghan Markham discusses how the LBA benefits the Lake Bluff Community.

1.) What exactly is the Ambassador Program and how does it work?

The Lake Bluff Ambassador program is an opportunity for our 5th and 6th grade students to experience various leadership opportunities. Our students love being creative, helping others, and using their leadership skills in a positive way to help build our school community. The program changes from year to year depending on which types of tasks our student leaders have the most interest in.

2.) How important is sufficient funding to the LBA?

The SEED grant helped to kickstart many of our small projects, which was great! Now that our program has been around for a few years, we have managed to become self-sufficient based on small profits from our LBA popcorn sales. The upside to this is that our Ambassadors have been able to create small clubs that are helping to support our school community and beyond. For example, we were able to purchase compost worms for the Eco Ambassadors!

3.) What sort of projects have benefited from the SEED grant?

All of the tasks started by our LBA center around leading a group of their peers and navigating how to start and finish a project. Some examples include raising and lowering the American Flag every morning and afternoon outside of LB. A group of students organize this schedule, plan alternate subs, and help teach new flag raisers the proper procedures. Another LBA project would be our bi-monthly popcorn sale. There is a group of students that has organized who pops, sells, and promotes the popcorn sales. Various clubs have also popped up through the leadership program. A few of those groups include the Compost Club, the Newspaper Club, and the Charity Club. Last year our LBA won a Promising Practice award through the Wisconsin Character Education Partnership. It is a lot of fun!

4.) Why do you think philanthropy is important for Shorewood Schools?

Philanthropy is what our Lake Bluff Ambassadors are all about! Our 5th and 6th grade students are always looking for ways to help others and support our school community, as well our communities outside of our school. Our students are intrinsically motivated to live by our school motto of "Be kind! Word hard! Have fun!" The experiences that our students have in the LBA has been all about that motto.

For more information about how you can support new learning experiences for students in Shorewood Schools, visit the SEED website at www.shorewoodseed.org or contact Ted Knight at tknight@shorewood.k12.wi.us or 414-961-3161.


Posted by kwatson on Wednesday March 18, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Lake Bluff Principal Recommendation


The School District of Shorewood is pleased to announce that Eric Norland is being recommended as the next principal of Lake Bluff Elementary School. Eric was selected after a thorough and thoughtful search process. The interview panel of teachers, parents, administrators, and other staff unanimously recommend Eric based on his experiences as an experiential educator, his school counseling background that contributes to his ability to develop supportive relationships, and his experience as an assistant principal in a high performing school in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The next steps in the process include a meeting between Eric and the school board along with a request to the board to enter into contract negotiations, with final board approval scheduled in April. If approved, Eric will begin his duties as the principal of Lake Bluff on July 1, 2015.

You can learn more about Eric Norland by reviewing his resume. It is available here.
Posted by kwatson on Tuesday March 17, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Standardized Testing Breakdown

STANDARDIZED TESTING

Students will take part in a new system of assessments. With the exception of 12th graders, the new tests will not increase the number of tests or the amount of time spent testing. Specific information about each exam can be found below (alphabetical order):

Exam

Grade Levels

Exam Info

ACCESS 2.0

(60 min. to administer)

ELL students grades K-12 (begins 15-16 school year)

• Elements of CCSS embedded

• Screen & annual summary

• Computer adaptive

ACT Aspire

(250 min. to administer)

9th/10th graders

• Includes English, writing, math, reading and science assessments

• Provides a predicted ACT score for each subject & composite

ACT

(250 min. to administer)

11th graders (will now be administered at school)

• Includes administration options for students with special needs

ACT WorkKeys

(45 min/test)

12th graders

• Includes applied math, locating information & reading for information

Dynamic Learning MAPS

(Test length varies)

1% of students in grades 3-8 and 11

• Allows students with cognitive disabilities to show what they know in ways traditional tests can't.

PALS

(20-30 min. to administer)

4K-2

• Useful for helping to identify students in need of additional help and as a source of formative data

Smarter Balanced

(5-7.5 hours over three weeks to administer, depending on grade)

3-8 (Administered throughout the last 12 weeks of the school year)

• Assesses English/ language arts and math

• Computer adaptive

• Measures achievement & growth

• Includes variety of question types

• Aligned to CCSS


Posted by kwatson on Monday March 16, 2015 at 04:53PM
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DPI Makes Changes to the Badger Exam

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has recently made changes to the Badger Exam, eliminating the ELA Performance Task, making the total time 2.5 hours shorter. For more information, please read the below letter from Deputy State Superintendent.

"Recently, State Superintendent Evers sent a letter affirming the Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) commitment to quality assessments for our students. In that letter, we reiterated our commitment to administer the Badger Exam 3-8 as planned this spring.
We know schools have been working diligently in preparing students and staff for this year's Badger Exam. We want to assure you that we are working with our test vendor so the transition goes as smoothly as possible and alleviates some of your concerns, like overall testing time, while ensuring the assessment provides you with the best results. We wanted to inform you of some important updates for this year's Badger Exam:
  • We are eliminating the English Language Arts (ELA) Performance Tasks, thus reducing the Badger Exam by two and a half hours. We will still be able to provide valid scores on ELA claims and a reliable overall score.
  • The Math Performance Tasks will remain, in order to maintain the validity of the assessment and test the claims for math problem solving and data analysis.
Testing Windows:
  • March 30-May 22 (ELA portion of the assessment).
  • April 13- May 22 (ELA with accommodations for Braille, Closed Captioning and American Sign Language, and Math (including Math Performance Assessments). This is altered slightly to ensure the test vendor had sufficient time for testing, minimizing the probability of any technical glitches for our students.
As was mentioned earlier, these changes will not impact the overall reporting information gleaned from the assessment. The Badger Exam is a good test and will give us our first insight into how our students are doing on more rigorous standards. The data from the Badger Exam will give districts information for their schools as well as important insights into possible achievement gaps. Districts will be able to use the data and continue to plan strategically to improving outcomes for all students.

We understand there has been a great deal of uncertainty regarding the future of this assessment. DPI remains committed to an annual assessment as it provides valuable information to parents, educators, policymakers, and the general public.

Sincerely,

Mike Thompson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent"
Posted by kwatson on Sunday March 15, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Standardized Achievement Assessments in the Shorewood School District

Dear Shorewood Families,

There is currently some controversy surrounding the Wisconsin Badger Smarter Balanced Exam – the replacement to the WKCE for math and English that is to begin this year. Here's what we know:

The Badger Exam was meant to align to the new state Common Core State standards, and by almost all accounts is a better assessment tool than the WKCE it is replacing.

Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal for 2016-2017 includes a provision of barring use of Smarter Balanced (Badger Exam) for elementary and middle school students, and prohibiting the state superintendent of schools from using the Common Core as a standard.

Under Walker's plan, school districts and individual schools would be able to choose a test to administer to measure student achievement in their district, rather than using a single standardized test statewide. (It is not clear if this is possible under NCLB, which requires states to have one state-mandated test. If true, this could mean the state would lose $500 million a year in federal funding.)

Thus, at this point we are not sure if we will be required to use the Badger Exam next year, but we would be required to use some state-mandated assessment tool. And it might be the Badger Exam.

Given these details, the District is moving forward with the Badger Exam this school year.

The Board's Position on Achievement Tests and Assessments

1. The Shorewood School District will comply with state mandates regarding student achievement tests. We are a "destination district," and therefore benefit from the positive reviews we receive from our district report cards.

2. We are sensitive to the concerns of losing instructional time during testing, and restrict our assessments in Shorewood to only those that provide valuable information that teachers can use to support student learning. Testing is not new, but the new assessments are in general better at highlighting student strengths and exposing gaps. The exam results will show us where we are exceeding standards so we maintain our best efforts and areas where we need to strengthen and improve.

3.Student assessments in Shorewood have never been and are currently NOT tied to teacher performance evaluations.

4.Standardized tests are one facet of a myriad of tools teachers are expected to use to assess student abilities and performance. We know the exams are a snapshot of students academic performance, and thus consider them no more or less important than teacher evaluations and other summative and formative tools in supporting student learning.

Facts about the Wisconsin Badger (Smarter Balanced) Exam

The Badger Exam will take no more than seven hours and thirty minutes to administer over several days. The English portion of the test takes four hours for grades 3-8, the math portion takes three hours for grades 3-5 and three hours and thirty minutes in grades 6-8. However, some students will need additional time, which is permitted.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a number of very good resources for teachers and parents about the Badger Test. You can learn more by clicking here.

Opting Out

If after learning more about the Badger Exam you decide that you would like to opt your child(ren) out of the exam; per Shorewood School board policy #333 and Wisconsin state statute (118.30(2)(b)(3)) (http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/118/30/2/b/3), please submit a letter to your child(rens) counselor communicating your desire to opt out before the testing window begins.

Although families have the right to opt out of testing, opting out might lower the school's and school district's state report card score that is published through DPI and reported nationwide.

Sincerely,

Tabia Nicholas
Shorewood Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Pupil Services

Paru Shah
Shorewood School Board Clerk

Posted by kwatson on Thursday March 5, 2015 at 12:29PM
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Lake Bluff Principal Hiring Updates

Lake Bluff Principal Hiring Process
School and Community Input


Monday, March 9th, 2015: Eric Norland
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015: Meg Boyd

Agenda:

8:00 am- Arrive, short meet and greet with staff
8:15 am- Greet students
8:30 am- Tour school with principal, Kirk Juffer
10:00 am- Meet with Parent Teacher Organization
11:00 am- Visit classrooms, meet with teachers on prep
12:00 pm- Lunch and meet with district staff – SHS Conference Room
1:30 pm- Meet 5th grade student panel
2:30 pm- Prepare for staff meeting
3:40 pm- Staff meeting

Select a reading, article, or video that presents an idea about education that you think is important for the Lake Bluff staff to know. You will have about 30 minutes to share and discuss the idea with the staff. Plan for a group of about 40, seated at tables in a large classroom.

4:30 pm- Break
6:30 pm- Parent and Community sessions – Lake Bluff Little Theatre

View Eric Norland's Resume

View Meg Boyd's Resume

Posted by kwatson on Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Thank You Letter From Shorewood School District's Day of Service

On January 19, Shorewood School District staff took part in their third annual National Day of Service. From 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., teachers and faculty members worked in teams, volunteering their service for various non-profit organizations and events across the Milwaukee area and within the Village of Shorewood. This Day of Service was intended to involve the District in Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – "a day on, not a day off."

Since this day of service, the District recently received a thank you letter from one of the organizations with which staff volunteered, the River Park Court Apartment Complex. Staff members helped to either host a District-sponsored bingo game for senior citizens in the complex's community room or to create Valentine's Day cards for the seniors living in the complex. Below is the thank you letter that was received.

"Dear Shorewood School District Staff,

Thank you to you and to all of the Shorewood teachers for playing BINGO with our clients at the River Park Court Apartments. They have said that it was wonderful and they all enjoyed it very much. Thanks so much for thinking of them.

The Valentines were fantastic! Some of our volunteers delivered them to some of our homebound clients. Many of them called us in tears to thank us for the beautiful cards. For most, it was the only valentine they received that day. It meant so much to all of those clients.

Please let all of the teachers know that they have really touched the lives of many seniors in Shorewood and the North Shore.

Thanks again for thinking of Shoreline and the seniors we help! Have a great weekend. Stay warm!"

~Anne Bina, Director, Shoreline Interfaith NOP


Posted by kwatson on Sunday March 1, 2015 at 11:00PM
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Alumni Spotlight: Michael Spector ‘58

When one considers what it truly means to be a public servant, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who lived up to the role more than Michael Spector. A 1958 graduate of Shorewood High School, Spector went on to study history at UW-Madison before graduating from Harvard Law School.

Spector's public service formally began in 1969 at age 28, when he was elected to the Shorewood School Board. Spector would then go on to serve as Board President from 1970-1973, Shorewood Village Trustee from 1982-1985, and Village President from 1985-1991. Most notably, Spector founded the Shorewood Historical Society in 1984 and is also the namesake for River Park's Spector Field, an initiative he generously supported.

Spector worked for Milwaukee law firm Quarles & Brady for 47 years, specializing in education law and representing school districts in both Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. He was a longtime supporter of Marquette Law School, teaching education law there, as well as at UW-Milwaukee, and Cardinal Stritch. Spector served as Chairman at Quarles & Brady from 1987-2002, which included a role as appointee to the Greater Milwaukee Committee. He retired from Quarles & Brady in 2002.

Retirement did not deter Spector's affinity for civil service and educational rights. He went on to serve as Chair of the statewide Governor's Task Force on Educational Excellence, was a member of the UW System's Board of Regents, the Executive Director of the United States Law Firm Group, Inc., a Director of Assisted Living Concepts, Inc., a Director of the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee, and a Director of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Despite the task of maintaining a busy and esteemed professional life, Spector was always able to make time for his family, wife Joan, and sons John, Tom, and Joe. An avid sports fan, Spector managed and coached a number of Shorewood Little League and Senior League Baseball teams, and enjoyed watching sporting events of all kind, especially those of his grandchildren. His hobbies also included photography, travel, golf, and reading.

Though Spector passed away in October 2014 at the age of 74, his legacy, along with his warm wisdom, balanced perspective, generosity, and gentle kindness, will undoubtedly continue to live on in the Village of Shorewood.

Posted by kwatson on Monday February 23, 2015 at 03:21PM
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District Response to Concerns Raised in Recent Petition & School Board Meeting

February 17, 2015

Shorewood is a community that deeply loves its public schools. Dr. Nicholas and I are proud to serve in leadership roles where the community is so supportive and engaged. Shorewood Schools are and continue to be among the best in the state. The recent 2015 Niche Rankings of schools and school districts place Shorewood as 4th in the state with all of our schools in the top 20 in the state when compared to schools with the same grade levels. I am proud to be part of these accomplishments, knowing that they indicate there is much going right in Shorewood Schools.

Because of the passion members of our community hold, disagreements arise. Even though moments like this can be uncomfortable, they also clarify for our administrative team and the school board areas where we can improve. This communication is a response to the petition circulated and signed by just over 100 individuals, and the comments shared at the February 10, 2015 school board meeting. Its purpose it to correct misinformation, and provide answers to questions posed. It is organized according to the topics noted in the petition and school board meeting: the narrow focus of School Growth Plans, math and science curriculums, not offering BC Calculus, practices related to advancing students, the implementation of the Response to Intervention (RtI), STEM/STEAM/EL, class size, and safety concerns.

In addition to this communication, our plan is to develop clearer and more timely communication about the work of the administrative team, and to have community forums where information can be shared in dialogue with community members.

The petition and school board meeting made clear that there are parents and families who would like to see change. At the same time, the District office has received many messages from other parents and community members who are very supportive of our current direction and leadership. It is my intent that this communication and the additional steps we are taking to move forward are helpful and that by working together we can best meet the needs of all of our students.

Sincerely,

Martin Lexmond Ed.D., Superintendent

Click here to see the District's full response to points raised in the petition.

Posted by kwatson on Saturday February 21, 2015 at 11:00PM
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District Calendar

    • MonDec25 Winter Break
    • TueDec26 Winter Break
    • WedDec27 Winter Break
    • ThuDec28 Winter Break
    • FriDec29 Winter Break

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