Tag Archives: South Milwaukee School District

Partnering with Local Schools to Celebrate Arbor Day


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.



Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

Good Luck, Rocket Robotics!


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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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.


Filed under City Council, City Services, Police, Schools, South Milwaukee

Happy 50th, E.W. Luther!

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Celebrating E.W. Luther Elementary’s 50th anniversary with an open house and a proclamation

South Milwaukee is blessed with terrific local schools that have stood the test of time — and Luther is clearly one of them. It’s an impressive school that we should all be proud of.


Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

Rocket Power, Fluid Power

Some good news from the South Milwaukee School District, courtesy of Chris Daniels, work-based learning coordinator … really impressive stuff.

The Technology & Engineering Academy at South Milwaukee High School hosted another project competition on Tuesday, February 10th.   The students competed in the school’s first National Fluid Power Challenge. The goal of the project is for the students to apply the principles of fluid power through scientific explorations and an engineering capstone project.  The Challenge is sponsored by the National Fluid Power Association which awarded the school a $3,500 grant.

The students designed and constructed a prototype of a hydraulic arm capable of solving an engineering scenario requiring moving scale drums of rocket fuel to a safe location.  They also produced an engineering design portfolio followed by an oral presentation which was evaluated by university professors and fluid power industry professionals.  SMHS is the first school in the nation to compete in the Challenge at the high school level.  

Volunteers and judges arrived from MSOE, Caterpillar, Poclain Hydraulics, Thomas-Magnete, Badger Meter, StemForward, and the National Fluid Power Association.  Awards were given for Best Teamwork, Best Challenge, Best Portfolio, Best Presentation, Best Design, and the overall winner of the competition.  The NFPA created a video of the event to be distributed to its national membership.  Four students have also been invited to present their projects at the International Technology & Engineering Educators Association conference on March 26th.

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District of Character: Another Great Honor For South Milwaukee Schools

There is lots to be proud of when it comes to our South Milwaukee schools. Its focus on character education is one reason why.

I see it come to life in my kids every day, which is why I’m not surprised to hear the entire South Milwaukee School District has been named a State District of Character by the Wisconsin Character Education Partnership. It was the only district to receive the honor. (Three individual schools from the around the state were also honored.)

South Milwaukee will be recommended to the national Character Education Partnership for a National School of Character award to be announced at the national conference in Washington D.C. in October.

From the WCEP …

All over the state, schools of hardworking administrators, teachers and their students try their best to win the coveted designation as a State School of Character. … 

Each went through a rigorous review by a committee of professionals who determined to what extent the school exemplifies strong implementation of character education in their schools, based on the Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education. The Principles are in accordance with the National Schools of Character (NSOC) guidelines. Schools and districts are evaluated according to the CEP’s Character Education Quality Standard a Self-Assessment Tool for Schools and Districts. …

Wisconsin schools have been winning such designations every year since 2011.

Why does it matter to the state of Wisconsin that these schools are functioning at such a high level? These kids will become adults. In the not too distant future they will govern, become employees and raise families of their own. These schools enroll nearly 5000 students in total. If one person can influence the world for good, imagine what 5000 educated people of character can do.

To learn about the specific initiatives each institution developed and promoted within the larger character driven education of the schools, please see the state website at www.wicharacter.org.

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Promoting Literacy In South Milwaukee

One reason I love our local schools is nights like this …

From the South Milwaukee School District:

The South Milwaukee Elementary Schools are hosting a Family Literacy Night at Rawson School on Thursday, February 26. Hours are 4:30 to 6 p.m. 

  • Find out how you can help your child with reading at home.
  • Learn literacy games.
  • Listen to great books read aloud.
  • Make a book.
  • Learn more about the Reading Workshop.
  • Meet author Marla McKenna, author of Mom’s Big Catch.
  • Door prizes.
  • Take some pizza home for dinner (if you r.s.v.p. by 2/20)

And … so much more!

For more information, contact your child’s teacher, or Jen Fischer at 766-5343 or jfischer@sdsm.k12.wi.us.

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