Spring 2013
 
 
Superintendent's Message

Dear Community Members,Superintendent Means Photo

Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of the Mequon-Thiensville School District Newsletter. Once again, we have great news to share, as well as some important information about our local public schools.

There are important articles that parents and community members should review concerning the state of the district. This includes 2013-14 budget information, changes to the state's Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Exam (WKCE) standards and security upgrades we are proposing to take place at our schools. The Board of Education has also approved the 2013-14 school year calendar, which is included in this newsletter.

The Mequon-Thiensville School District continues to be a high-performing educational organization, thanks in large part to the hard work of our staff and students and the engagement of our parents and community members. Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful spring season!

Sincerely,

Demond A. Means, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 
 


 
Mequon-Thiensville Students Excel at Math Competitions
 

Teams from Homestead High School and Steffen Middle School both placed first in recent math competitions. The events, which took place in early February, pitted Mequon-Thiensville students against some of the top math students in the region. In addition to the teams' success, several district students also received individual honors.

The Homestead High School varsity math team won the North Shore Conference Math Meet by a decisive 16-point margin. Individual honors went to students Austin Cao, Andrew Zhu, and Kartik Papatla, all of whom finished in the top 10 out of the 63 students at the meet. The competition took place at Port Washington High School on February 6.

Steffen Middle School placed first at the February 9 MathCounts competition at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Team members included Mitchell Larson, William Clark, Christopher Aceto, and Zach Teplin. Clark received a trophy for placing fourth individually, and Aceto also placed in the top 12 competitors.

 
 
Mequon-Thiensville Student Accepted to National Youth Orchestra
 

Homestead High School student Kartik Papatla has been accepted into the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a prestigious organization that conducts auditions across the country. Papatla, a junior at Homestead, will tour with the orchestra across Europe, including in London, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. He will also perform in Washington, D.C.

Papatla, who plays cello, will start his travels this summer, touring from June 30 to July 23. He will also work with director James Ross and principal players from some of the country's top orchestras during a residency at Purchase College in New York.

A student of the cello since the age of six, Papatla has worked with a number of master cellists throughout the state and region. He has played with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) since 2005 and won the MYSO's Philharmonia Concerto Competition in 2009.

Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute established the National Youth Orchestra this year, and 2013 will be its inaugural season. Congratulations to Papatla for his outstanding work!

 
 
Wisconsin Adopts Higher WKCE Expectations for Math and Reading; MTSD Prepared for Changes
 

In the Mequon-Thiensville School District and across the state of Wisconsin, school districts are working to ensure that students are ready for opportunities in post-secondary education and their careers. Our primary state assessment has seen recent changes that reflect this focus.

In the next week, parents will receive copies of their children's Individual Student Reports, which explain their performance on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE). The test was taken in fall 2012 by students in grades 3 to 8 and in grade 10. This year, Wisconsin raised the WKCE scores needed for students to reach the basic, proficient, and advanced performance levels in reading and math. Due to these changes, WKCE results will show a significant decline in the number of students considered to be "proficient" or "advanced." Please note that this does not reflect a change in the abilities of students, teachers, or schools, but rather the higher standards and aspirations that we have for our students and schools.

This change impacts WKCE results for reading and math only. It does not affect other WKCE content areas, such as social studies, science, and language arts, or WAA-SwD scores, an alternative form of assessment used with a small percentage of Wisconsin students.

The new college and career readiness proficiency levels are based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the "Nation's Report Card." The adoption of NAEP performance standards is part of a statewide plan to continue to improve school performance, and is connected to a national movement to prepare all American high-school graduates to compete in a global society. Locally, the Mequon-Thiensville School District is looking forward to seeing how our students' performance aligns to the NAEP standards.

The Mequon-Thiensville School District and the state of Wisconsin are on a rapid trajectory toward higher standards. This includes the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, public review of the Wisconsin School Report Card system, upgraded curriculum standards for English language learners and students with disabilities, and more rigorous local assessments. Be assured that our district is refining its curriculum, instruction, and assessment so that our students can exceed the new higher state standards.

The pursuit of excellence has always been a part of the Mequon-Thiensville School District, and we recently implemented a new strategic plan that emphasizes higher academic standards. In addition, MTSD has consistently focused on increasing academic expectations through the use of common assessments and the analysis of student performance data.

Adjusting to these higher aspirations and expectations will take some time, but it is a necessary change for a worthy purpose-to elevate the achievements of our students and their schools. Together, we can all work to make sure that every child graduates ready for college and a career.

 
 
Mequon-Thiensville Board of Education Expected to Act on Administrative Budget Recommendations
 

The Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education will take action on a series of administrative budget recommendations at its monthly business meeting on Monday, March 18.

Initially presented to the board in December, the recommended actions would allow the district's administrative team to begin planning for the 2013-14 school year.

"To start the process of staffing and financial planning for the upcoming school year, it is essential for the board to act, either in affirmation or denial, on the recommendations our administration have presented," said Dr. Demond A. Means, Superintendent.

The administrative budget recommendations include security enhancements at all three elementary schools and both middle schools. These changes were considered several years ago (2005) and have become a top priority since the December school shooting in Connecticut. The security upgrades are in line with the board-approved enhancements at Homestead High School in January.

"The administrative team is recommending necessary enhancements that can no longer be ignored simply because of the dollar amount associated with them," said Means. "The safety of our students and staff should be the primary concern of our community."

In addition, district administration recommends reducing a total of 1.76 full-time equivalent (FTE) in staff members. This reduction represents the first three items in the administration's reduction list, a proactive, multi-year reduction plan originally developed in 2012 and aligned recently to the strategic plan.

"We do not want to minimize this action because it is always difficult to reduce personnel. However, the budget reductions recommended this year are far less significant than we have seen in previous years," said Means. It's important to note that these reductions are driven by declining enrollment and student course selection at the high school.

The recommendations also include two new administrative positions—a director of human resources and director of communication and alumni relations. The new positions would improve the district's efficiency, as the human resources and communications roles of the organization are currently distributed among several administrators, limiting capacity and performance.

"The inability to effectively manage and measure the school district's largest budgetary expenditure—human resources—demonstrates a significant gap in organizational performance," Means said. With recent changes in compensation and benefits administration, the human resources function has become an area requiring expertise and focus beyond the current capacity of the organization.

"Through the recent strategic planning process, the community also identified communication as an area of needed improvement for the district. Additional functions of marketing the district and communication with and tracking of alumni are other focus areas identified by the community in need of attention. The ability to strengthen organizational capacity and effectiveness in these specialized areas will allow administrators to focus on classroom instruction and continuous improvement and allow the district to be more competitive via programming and the recruitment of students, families and staff to the district."

The district also expects to experience minimum impact from Governor Scott Walker's proposed state budget. This is mostly due to the state school funding formula's "hold harmless" provision.

"Our team took a very pragmatic and strategic approach to the development of our 2013-14 school year budget," Means said. "We did not plan on a substantial increase in additional revenue to be provided to public schools, clearly understanding the direction of state leadership in Madison. I would implore state elected officials that represent the communities of Mequon and Thiensville in the state legislature to understand the crucial need of maintaining the hold harmless exemption in the funding formula for our school district. The hold harmless and declining enrollment exemptions are essential to the financial future of a school district like ours that is experiencing significant declining resident enrollment."

The next board of education meeting will take place Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Range Line School Conference Room, 11040 N. Range Line Road in Mequon.

 
 
Security Update
 

In the few months since the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the district has been taking steps to improve school security.

The Board of Education has approved recommendations to reconfigure the front entrance of Homestead High School, which will start immediately and is expected to be completed when the students return from spring break. The student attendance office will be moved to the front of the high school after construction is completed.

The Board of Education was presented with plans for more secure configurations for the front entrances of our other five schools at a working meeting on February 11, 2013.

In addition to these potential changes, the district has forwarded a proposal to increase the number of surveillance cameras on school district property, institute a communication system that would enable schools to communicate across the district regardless of the active status of phone lines, and reexamine classroom door lock systems. Administratively, we will examine methods that would allow teachers to secure classrooms more quickly

The board will vote on the proposed security updates at the three elementary schools and two middle schools at its March 18, 2013 business meeting, as part of the administrations budget recommendations.

The horrific events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School is the main impetus for the urgency of security recommendations. It is vital that MTSD does everything possible to insure the safely of our children.

 
 
In Case You Missed It
 

2013-14 School Calendar
The Board of Education has approved the 2013-2014 school calendar. Each building will communicate details regarding times and other specifics as events approach (e.g. curriculum nights, open houses).

Students will report for the first day of school on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. Information regarding registration and the beginning of the year will be sent home to families prior to that date.

The last day of school for students will be Wednesday, June 12, 2014.

Early release days will be designated throughout the school year to promote best practices and develop the competencies, attitudes, and educational beliefs of our staff as professionals.

On early release days, high-school students will be released at approximately 11:10 a.m., middle-school students at 11:55 a.m., and elementary students at 12:35 p.m.

The district will once again have school on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday on January 20, 2014.

The ability to pay fees and register online will again be available for parents.

In-person registration will be held on August 15, 2013. Further details will be sent as the date approaches.

Parent/Teacher Conferences:
The high school will have three conference opportunities, at the midway point of each of the three terms. Conferences at the high school will be held on October 15, 2013, January 28, 2014, and May 1, 2014, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

At the elementary and middle schools, the first semester parent/teacher conferences are set for November 25, 2012 (4:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.) and November 26, 2013 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.). The date of the second semester parent/teacher conference will be March 13, 2014 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).

 

 
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Mequon-Thiensville School District | 5000 West Mequon Road | Mequon | WI | 53092

 

Last Updated: 9/26/13