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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Filed under Local Business, Schools, South Milwaukee

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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Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

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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Report Cards Out: South Milwaukee Schools Meet Expectations

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instructions is out with its 2013-14 school and school district report cards.

The verdict for South Milwaukee? The district as a whole solidly “meets expectations” with a score of 68.9.

As for individual schools …

  • Blakewood exceeds expectations, with a score of 74.5.
  • E.W. Luther meets expectations, with a score of 70.1
  • Rawson meets expectations, with a score of 68.1.
  • Lakeview meets expectations, with a score of 63.7.
  • South Milwaukee Middle School meets expectations, with a score of 67.9.
  • South Milwaukee High School meets expectations, with a score of 69.2.

You can search for report cards by district here. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal offer some context.

Of course, the best context is what you see with your own eyes. And, as the parent of a Rawson first- and fourth-grader, I see a school (and school district) committed to first-class education.

We should all be proud of our South Milwaukee schools.

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Commitment To Excellence: South Milwaukee Schools Earn Accreditation

As the proud parent of two South Milwaukee School District students, I’m not surprised to hear this news …

The district has become the first in southeastern Wisconsin to earn school system accreditation from the AdvancED Accreditation Committee. From the press release

This distinction by the most rigorous accreditation organization in the United States means that the School District of South Milwaukee and all of its schools meet international standards of quality and demonstrate a commitment to excellence.

The accreditation process involves three ongoing components: 1) meeting high quality standards; 2) implementing a continuous process of improvement; and 3) engaging in quality assurance through internal and external review. The system’s accreditation is for a five-year term with regular monitoring of progress and reporting occurring during the term.

Congratulations to the district and the administrators, teachers, staff and students who worked (and work) every day to help make this happen.

We have lots to be proud of in South Milwaukee, nothing more so than our schools.


Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

School Report Cards Issued: How Did South Milwaukee Do?

The answer? Pretty well.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction came out with its school report cards on Tuesday, and every South Milwaukee school fell in the “meets or exceeds expectations” category.

Here is where each one ranked …

And the overall district received a “meets expectations” grade of 68.4.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has some context in this story.

And these report cards demand context. While I respect the effort in grading schools — and support having objective standards in doing so — there are so many factors driving educational excellence that a true apples to apples comparison is nearly impossible.

I prefer the eye test when it comes to rating schools, and South Milwaukee’s schools pass that with high marks. I am the proud parent of two Rawson Elementary students, and I continue to be impressed with that school and the district as a whole. I see every day the strides my children are making as young learners, the excitement they bring home every day about what they’ve learned. It’s infectious.

And that’s something you can’t measure on DPI report cards.


Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

Going Pink Again In South Milwaukee

Thanks to a partnership between the South Milwaukee School District and the South Milwaukee Police Department, the city is going pink on Oct. 15. The goal: Raise money for breast cancer awareness and to help find a cure.

South Milwaukee High School has some cool-looking t-shirts for sale, with proceeds going to the Justice for the Cure Foundation. Here is the flyer, and here is more information on NOW.

T-shirt order forms are also available from Parkway Floral.

Let’s hope we can beat last year’s total!

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Filed under Community, Police, Schools

Join The Discussion: School District Driving Community Conversation Around Self-Improvement Book

Here is just the latest example of the South Milwaukee School District working hard to make a positive difference in our community …

The district is encouraging residents to pick up copies of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and read it as the basis for a “community conversation” that will include face-to-face and online discussions, conversations in the schools and via social media, and opportunities for student participation.

Books will be available by September 3 at South Milwaukee schools, South Milwaukee City Hall and the Health Department, the South Milwaukee Library and Sorce Martial Arts. We got our copy at Community Night Out this week.

A donation is requested to cover the cost of the book.

Once you pick one up, you’ll get instructions on how to join the conversation. From a flyer about the initiative

Are you interested in enhancing your own life and shaping your child’s future? Would you like to unlock more potential as a parent, grandparent, or coach; in business; or in family relationships? Have you ever wondered why some people are more open to possibilities, growth, and change? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to join our community conversation!

 Our community conversation will feature the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol S. Dweck from Stanford University. In this book, Dr. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success – but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset. With the right mindset, we can motivate our children and help them improve in school, as well as reach our own goals – personal and professional.


Filed under Schools, South Milwaukee

Attention Preschool Parents: Child Development Day Is Saturday

The South Milwaukee Health Department and South Milwaukee School District are partnering to offer a Child Development Day for children ages 2-5 and their parents.

It’s this Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Lakeview Elementary School gymnasium, 711 Marion Ave.

Educational screenings will be offered, and parents will have a chance to interact with personnel from the Health Department, school district, Head Start and local preschool and child care centers.

It’s a great chance for families to learn more about all the community resources available when it comes to early childhood development — and there are lots of them — as well as information on normal growth and development for those 5 and under.

Learn more in this flyer … and thanks ahead of time to our Health Department and schools for putting on this important event.

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Filed under Community, Health, Schools

Educate Your Lawmakers: South Milwaukee School Leaders Want Your Help In Speaking Out Against Walker’s Budget (And For Public Schools)

Update: Vote in the new poll!

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2013-15 budget is not a pretty one for South Milwaukee schools — and the district wants you to contact local legislators and other lawmakers to tell them about it.

From a memo posted on the school district website

The Governor’s budget for 2013-15 is yet another reduction to K-12 public education, in a period where there is over $1.7 billion of new funds available to allocate in the state budget. 

  • The Governor is proposing that the available funds in the State budget be allocated to expand the number and cost of voucher and charter schools in Wisconsin – this money reduces the amount available to public schools.
  • The Governor has allocated a 1% increase in state aid to K-12 education, but this is NOT ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR SCHOOLS. This is only a property tax reduction. The Governor must allow school districts to increase the revenue limit. An increase in revenue limits enables schools to sustain programs whereas the state aid in the Governor’s budget is only going to provide property tax relief.
  • Tell the legislators that public schools need a per pupil increase to the revenue limit.

The upshot? The South Milwaukee School District would face a more than $365,000 budget deficit if Walker’s budget passes. That would surely mean cuts for a district that has already dealt with more than its fair share.

Preliminary budget recommendations are expected on March 20. In the meantime, hopefully the state funding scenario will improve — although I certainly have my doubts.

It’s clear Gov. Walker and many Republicans have decided to place their bet with voucher schools … and not with public education. As the proud parent of two Rawson Elementary students, I think that’s wrong. Fix public education. Invest in it. Fund it properly. Don’t encourage its demise in favor of a voucher system that has yet to demonstrate results (and may never do so).

You can learn more about the district’s budget plight on this page on its website. As you do that, I think I’m going to call my legislators … and I encourage you to do the same.


Filed under Schools, State Budget, State Lawmakers

Teff Gymnasium: Honoring A Local Legend

Here is some really good news from the South Milwaukee School District …

South Milwaukee is renaming the middle school gymnasium after longtime athletic director, coach and physical education teacher Jim Teff, who passed away last fall.

Check out the press release from the district here. From it:

Jim Teff was a legend. He had a tremendous impact on thousands of student athletes. By naming this gym after him, current and future Rocket coaches and teachers will be able to use Jim as a shining example of what hard work, dedication and integrity mean for thousands more.

The naming ceremony will take place on Friday, Feb. 8, as the South Milwaukee boys’ basketball team takes on rival Cudahy … at the middle school. The ceremony starts after the junior varsity game, around 7:10 p.m. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

What do you think of the honor? Did you know Coach Teff? What are your memories of him? Post your comments below!

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