Category Archives: Schools

Partnering with Local Schools to Celebrate Arbor Day

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The City of South Milwaukee is proud to once again be partnering with the South Milwaukee School District on a 2016 Arbor Day Celebration. 

The Street Department will be planting one tree at each one of the South Milwaukee elementary schools to commemorate our second-annual Arbor Day event.

Trees go in the ground starting April 22.

I want to thank Assistant Street Superintendent Dan Ratajski for his leadership on this event — another symbol of our city’s commitment to enhancing our urban forest. 

Much more to come in this area this spring, summer and beyond. 

Communities must invest in trees. And South Milwaukee is.

 

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Taking a Virtual Tour of the World, and Beyond

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Our students got to visit the moon, the jungle, and the Mayan ruins all in one class period.  It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

That’s the report from Brian Gannon, student learning and technology coordinator for the South Milwaukee School District.

He was speaking of the Google Expeditions Pioneer program, in which select schools across the country are getting the chance to use virtual reality headsets to explore sites from around the world — universe, even.

Last week, kids at Lakeview Elementary School took part in the pilot, and TMJ4 was there to do a story. Check it out here. Rawson students are also getting an opportunity. Mr. Gannon called it an “awesome experience” and thanked technology integration coach Tammy Lind for helping bring it to South Milwaukee …

The Google Expeditions program is an expansion of the Google Cardboard apps that have become more and more popular. Google envisioned ways to use this technology in schools by allowing teachers to choose a destination and bring all the students there with the press of a button. Google began touring around the country with these last year and has visited about 20 major cities in the U.S. On April 4, Google began its first stop in Wisconsin by choosing a small number of schools, based on people who signed up for the Expeditions explorer program. Tammy Lind was one of those people. Google contacted Tammy about visiting two schools in South Milwaukee – Lakeview, and Rawson. As of now, Expeditions is just in pilot mode.  In order to make it a reality for our schools in the near future, we would need to find/purchase a classroom set of old smartphones.  We could then purchase the viewers (Google Cardboard) and install the expeditions app for teacher use. 

Learn more about the Google Expeditions Pioneer program here.

Cool stuff.

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Improving Local Parks

Good riddance dilapidated, vandalism magnate, safety hazard of a building at Rawson Park.

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Hello, new roof at Brown Pavilion at Grant Park (in plenty of time for summer activities like the traveling beer garden and July 4 festivities, following wind damage last month).

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Thanks to the Milwaukee County Parks (and South Milwaukee School District in the case of the Rawson building) for performing this much-needed work.

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Something for Everyone: Rec Department Summer Guide Available

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We’re big users of the South Milwaukee Recreation Department and other programming through the school district.

Basketball, football, South Milwaukee Youth Theater, the fitness center — that’s just a few of the offerings we’ve taken advantage of over the years, and continue to.

In other words, we watch closely for the arrival of the Rec Department’s seasonal guides. And the latest just came in the mail.

Check out the online version of the summer rec guide here … and join us in signing up for one of these great activities.

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Good Luck, Rocket Robotics!

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I had a chance to meet Rocket Robotics, FIRST Team 3596, last week, and I left feeling so impressed with our next generation of engineers and the work they’re doing — as well as with the community and business partnership it takes to make their work possible.

The robotics team, in its sixth year at South Milwaukee High School, is 15-20 students strong and is led by Brian Niggemann, a Caterpillar engineer who volunteers countless hours of his time to mentor the team and prepare them for their annual competition. He is joined by three other Caterpillar employee volunteers who bring their engineering expertise and guidance to the kids you see pictured above.

Caterpillar is also a significant funder of the program, paying the team’s entry fee and also donating funds and equipment used in building the robots. In addition to Caterpillar, The Rotary Club of Mitchell Field stepped up with significant funding this year, as well as smaller contributions from Vito Clean, Alliance Manufacturing Group, and Styled Aesthetic.

But it really comes down to the kids and the passion they bring to this, which was clearly evident when I visited with them.

I wish them good luck at the FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, at the Milwaukee Panther Arena downtown. Learn more about the competition here. It’s open to the public and free. Stop by and see these students in action, and I’m certain you’ll come away as impressed as I was.

Their robot is wrapped in plastic below. They didn’t want to risk me breaking it 🙂

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School District Plans Prescribed Prairie Burn

The South Milwaukee School District is planning a prescribed burn for the prairie grass around its high school and middle school campuses later this month.

Applied Ecological Services will do the burn, weather permitting, March 28-April 1.

Check out the school district letter here.

And here is more information on the schools’ prairie, and images from the previous burn (including a few shown in this post). This is a story about the benefits of prescribed burns.

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On Crossing Guards

You may have seen that the South Milwaukee City Council voted last week to enter into a contract with a firm to handle school crossing guard duties.

I agree with that decision.

In working with Twin City Security Inc., we are joining communities like Cudahy, West Allis, Wauwatosa, Waukesha and Shorewood who have decided that the best way to deliver this service is by partnering with a third-party firm to do it.

For South Milwaukee, it was a difficult choice, but the right one as we continue to look for more efficient ways to deliver our services.

There are seven school crossing guards in all, and, until the new contract, all were hired and managed by the South Milwaukee Police Department. The city funds four of them. The school pays the city back for the services of the other three. Going forward, Twin City will supply the guards, removing the burden of managing the program from the police department.

The SMPD has long managed to do more with less. The numbers don’t lie — on a per-resident basis, we have the smallest department in the area. And we must manage those resources closely, ensuring the department is delivering on its core responsibilities in every way possible. Managing the crossing guard program took away from that.

Day-to-day oversight of the program — from hiring to firing to payroll to dealing with absences and the like — has proven more and more time-consuming. The program literally has taken patrol officers of the street; at times, officers have had to man crossing guard stations to fill in for guards away from work. That is not acceptable to me.

No one is saying crossing guards are unimportant. However, when balanced with the other duties our police department performs, we feel this is the right move, especially with contracted program costs being similar to our internal costs.

I want to thank all of our guards for their service.

I know some have become local institutions, and we are honoring one of them — Helga Allen, stationed near E.W. Luther for many years — during our police awards ceremony at our May 17 council meeting.

All have also been offered a chance to apply at Twin City, and I hope they do.

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