Our mission is to engage all of our students in rigorous and relevant learning to maximize their unique talents and abilities, and to prepare them for the challenges of the future.
October 2018
Passage of a November 6, 2018 operating referendum would result in a zero increase in the school portion of property taxes for the next five years. Learn more on our website and PPT presentation.
Dear Parents, Families, Students, Friends and Neighbors,

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is fast approaching! We have had a lot to celebrate over the past few months. We had another spirited Homecoming Week featuring our 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, Edward Raether. We have many great events coming up for the holiday season, and our fall musical Mamma Mia! promises to be an outstanding show. We hope to see you at one of our many holiday concerts and performances.

Referendum Information
As many of you are aware, on November 6 th our community members will have the opportunity to cast their ballots on a referendum question to exceed the revenue limit by an average of $3.3 million per year for each of the next five years. (See where to vote in your community.)

Ballot Question:
Shall the Watertown Unified School District, Jefferson and Dodge Counties, Wisconsin, be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $2,000,000 for the 2018-2019 school year, by $3,500,000 per year for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, and by $3,700,000 for the 2021-2022 school year, and by $3,900,000 for the 2022-2023 school year, for the non-recurring purposes consisting of partially funding educational programs, services, and building maintenance?

If the referendum passes, the school portion of your property tax rate will not increaseThe property tax rate (mill rate) will remain the same at $8.98 – lower than all property tax rates in our surrounding communities. 
While the WUSD offers outstanding opportunities for our students and families, we are facing budget challenges as we move into the 2018-2019 school year. We are facing a budget deficit of over $1 million for the 2018-2019 school year and a deficit of approximately $4 million annually over the next five years.

When we share this information with our families and community members, we are frequently asked, why are we facing this deficit? The primary reason for our deficit is declining student enrollments. Over the past several years the WUSD has experienced a trend of declining enrollments. In 2013-2014 the WUSD had a student population of more than 3,900 students, and in the 2017-2018 school year, we served just over 3,700. We project that in 2020-2021, the WUSD will serve approximately 3,600 students. People then frequently ask, why are our numbers declining? The District has not experienced a spike in our open enrollment-out numbers, nor have we seen increased numbers of our students attending parochial schools – in fact, our parochial schools are struggling with this same issue. The students are simply not in the community, and we are not seeing them come through our schools. 

Compounding the financial implications of our declining enrollments, is the fact that the WUSD has been a traditionally low-spending District. Over the past 10 years, the WUSD has spent approximately $1,000 less per student than the average in the State of Wisconsin. Due to our enrollments, being a low-spending district and having spent years making reductions, we find ourselves in a situation where we have lean staff and resources and few areas to look to make additional reductions. As a result, the Board of Education has made the decision to move forward with a school referendum question on the November 6 th ballot to address our budget deficit now and in the future. 
The Board has decided to pursue a referendum that will not increase the current property tax mill rate. This means that if the referendum passes, the property tax on the school portion of the property tax bill will not be impacted. A successful referendum will allow the District to offset our budget deficit by an average of $3.3 million each year for the next five years.  This means that the District will still be making reductions at the rate of approximately $700,000 each year, but our deficit will be offset by a successful referendum. Again, if the referendum passes, the school portion of your property taxes will not be increased , and the District’s tax (mill) rate will remain at $8.98 – the lowest of all surrounding communities.

Want more information to make an informed decision about the referendum before voting arrives on November 6 th? Please join us to learn more or visit our referendum website and PPT presentation:

Referendum Information Night
October 29, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
at Watertown High School in the Media Center
We are excited about all of the great work that continues to happen in the WUSD, and we hope you will enjoy reading about some of the additional highlights in our Fall Newsletter.

The WUSD is committed to our vision of Excellence for All. We believe we can lead the state in our efforts to reach the learning needs of every child, develop people and partnerships, and lead through innovative practices and leadership. We believe the WUSD is a destination district in the state of Wisconsin, and we plan to build on our reputation as an innovator in education and a great place to live, work and go to school.

It’s the #WatertownWay.

Cassandra Schug
Superintendent of Schools
Upcoming Events
  • Oct. 23 - RMS Fall P/T Conferences
  • Oct. 25 & 26 - No School
  • Oct. 30 - Douglas Fall P/T Conferences
  • Nov. 6 - Fall General Election
  • Nov. 9, 10 & 11 - WHS Fall Musical Mamma Mia!
  • Nov. 21, 22, & 23 - No School
  • Nov. 25 - School Board Meeting
  • Dec. 17 - School Board Meeting
  • Dec. 24 - Jan. 1, 2019 - No School

See WUSD calendars to find spring concerts, school events and 2018-19 district annual calendar
Enjoy Our Holiday Concerts
We warmly welcome the community to attend any of our holiday choir, band and orchestra concerts.

  • Dec. 2 - WHS Winter Concert @ St. Bernard
  • Dec. 3 - Webster Holiday Program
  • Dec. 3 - Schurz Kindergarten Holiday Program
  • Dec. 4 - Schurz Grades 1-5 Holiday Program @ WHS
  • Dec. 6 - RMS Choir Concert
  • Dec. 10 - RMS Band Concert
  • Dec. 13 - WHS Winter Concert - Band & Orchestra
  • Dec. 17 - RMS Orchestra Concert
Enhancing Teaching and Learning for Every Child - Every Day
Parents, Caregivers: You Play Key Role in Early Childhood Development
During the first few years of life, a child's brain builds a foundation for learning that will affect how the child learns to communicate, read and understand new ideas; however, the brain doesn't do this all on its own. It depends on input from parents and others in the form of focused, loving interactions and conversations.

That's why Every Child Thrives (ECT) has created TalkReadPlay. TalkReadPlay is a community awareness campaign designed to teach parents and caregivers about the science of early brain development and help them create more brain building opportunities with their babies and young children.

Quality adult-child interactions mean a stronger foundation for learning. When parents talk, read and play more with their babies and young children, they have an enormous positive impact on the brain development, vocabulary growth, school readiness and future academic success of their children. In other words, how (and how much) parents engage with their children in those early years will impact the child, their schools and the community for years to come.

Every Child Thrives is a collective impact effort uniting community partners in Dodge and Jefferson Counties. It is centered on the shared purpose of ensuring all children thrive in health, learning and life. Launched in 2017, ECT uses data to drive decisions and align resources to support what works. The backbone support for the Every Child Thrives initiative is provided by the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.

The WUSD is truly grateful for this wonderful opportunity to partner with the foundation to bring TalkReadPlay into our community.
Elementary Library Media Centers Transform into Learning Labs
Message from Elementary Media Specialists Darianne Keuler-Nelson and Sabina Biel

To meet the needs of our diverse population in our evolving library system, WUSD Elementary Library Media Centers transformed into “Learning Labs” during the 2017-2018 school year. Made possible with a Watertown Way grant, These learning labs addressed the varying learning styles of our elementary students and offered support to our recently adopted STEM initiative. This transformation of the media centers included open collaboration spaces, flexible seating options, mobile stations and hands-on manipulatives. We especially LOVE our Lego Walls thanks to Dave Ulm! Every elementary student had the opportunity to explore their interests, learn important concepts and grow along their own learning path.

Benefits of Learning Labs
We believe moving to a personalized learning approach has inspired students to engage in their own instruction. We have seen an increase in collaboration between students and a true passion for creativity. We have witnessed a higher level of confidence in students who may exhibit some learning challenges. We have seen growth at every age level with a multitude of subjects, including science, reading and math.
It was an exciting year! This year we look forward to continued expansion of our STEM curriculum with the addition of many Makerspace materials.
Developing People and Partnerships
Watertown High School Wins WIAA Award of Excellence
WIAA logo
Hats off to our WHS Athletic Director Jamie Koepp and all of our athletic coaches and student athletes!

Watertown High School was one of 22 schools that recently received the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (WIAA) Award of Excellence. The award recognizes member schools for their efforts and achievements in the areas of sportsmanship, ethics, integrity, leadership and character. 

Recipients will be presented the Award of Excellence and certificate at the fall area meetings and will be recognized for the achievement on the WIAA website, in the WIAA Bulletin and at the Annual Meeting.

The criteria applied toward the Award of Excellence include:

  • Athletic director conducted regular occurring meetings with a Captain’s Club/Team Leadership Council/etc. 
  • Athletic director conducted regular occurring meetings with coaches. 
  • Athletic director conducted at least one informational meeting with student-athletes and their parents on sportsmanship.
  • Athletic director attended conference meetings.
  • Coaches and student-athletes attended a sportsmanship summit/leadership conference/etc.
  • There was school representation at one of the seven WIAA Fall Area Meetings.
  • There was school representation at WIAA Annual Meeting in April.
  • Athletic Director made the student body aware of sportsmanship initiatives through school assemblies, announcements, posters, etc.
  • Three or more athletic teams gave back to their school or community through volunteerism 
  • Athletic director has taken the free NFHS Sportsmanship course.
  • Three or more head coaches have taken the free NFHS Sportsmanship course.
  • Athletic program had no coach ejections at any level.
  • Athletic program had no coach or player assault of an official at any level.
  • Athletic director nominated/submitted a boy and/or a girl for WIAA Scholar Athlete recognition (either for local or state level recognition).

The WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 511 senior high schools and 44 junior high/middle level schools. Congratulations to WHS for receiving this award!
Alumni Spotlight on Gayle Ebert
Gayle Ebert
Schurz Bilingual Kindergarten Teacher, 1994 WHS Alumnus

I am married to Bryant Ebert, who also is a Watertown alumnus, and have two beautiful girls and a 13-year old black Labrador named Jasmine. My husband and I enjoy running together. As a family, we enjoy kayaking, swimming, going to Disney and just being together.

Why did you come back to Watertown/the District?
After teaching in a city in Mexico of 600,000 people, it was not originally in my plans to come back and teach in Watertown. But then I met my husband and realized that Watertown REALLY is the perfect town to live in. It is a small, safe and beautiful community with the river and all the parks. Most of my family is still here. Additionally, with my experience in Mexico, I wanted to help the Latinos in our community.

What’s most different from then and now?
Kindergarten!!! When I was in kindergarten, I remember doing calendar, listening to a story, doing a craft, having snack, going to recess and playing. Today, our little ones are learning letters, sounds, numbers, shapes and colors; how to read, write, add, subtract, make observations, predictions, be a good friend, listener and student; and SO MUCH MORE!

What is your favorite memory from your school days?
Oh, I have so many… Mrs. Larson, my second grade teacher from Douglas, is the reason I became a teacher. In high school, I had the opportunity to be Senora Fischer’s teacher assistant, which led me to Spanish. I had so many great teachers who influenced my life: Mr. Wittenwyler, Mr. Lemke, Mr. Algiers, Mrs. Mullen, Mr. Jacobson and so many more!

Advice for anyone wanting to become a teacher or getting into the field of education?
Make sure you love and are passionate about the subject you would like to teach. Also, volunteer in classrooms to see what age level you would fit best in. I have taught at every level, fifth and sixth grade in Mexico, middle and high school ESL and Spanish, and now dual language kindergarten. I can say without a doubt elementary is the most work (preparation outside the class and always being “on” inside the classroom) and needs the most patience! There is NEVER a down moment; there is ALWAYS something happening! It really is AMAZING seeing the little ones grow so much in only nine months!

I feel blessed to work in the district that gave me so many great experiences. I only hope that I can be such a positive influence just as so many of my teachers were to me.
Certified Staff Spotlight on Rhonda Mecikalski
Rhonda Mecikalski
3rd Grade Teacher at Schurz

I am celebrating my 27 th year teaching elementary students in the Watertown Unified School District. I currently am teaching third grade at Schurz School and pre-kindergarten during summer school. My husband Tom and I live in Watertown with two of our three young adults, two dogs and one cat.
What do you love most about your work at the Watertown Unified School District?
One of the best things about the Watertown Unified School District is the connections you can make with people. As a teacher, I can exchange teaching ideas with the third grade team in my building, the third grade team across the district and with my high school round table group. There is a great feeling of support and ease when you figure out that what you are thinking and feeling is similar to that of co-workers across the district. 
Share a favorite success story.
A success story that continues to unfold happened during my teaching of summer school. For three summers, I was paired with a young college student who was planning to major in pre-med. She worked as an instructional support person in my classroom. Last summer, she surprised me with the news that she changed her major to education. I am super proud of her and the work we did together. With graduation just around the corner, perhaps she will consider teaching in the WUSD!
Share a surprising fact about yourself.
Most people don’t know that I have a competitive spirit! This occurs on the weekends when I run in 5 and 10k races. I always tell myself that I am participating in the event “for fun.” Ultimately though, if I have a good run and get a medal, it is extremely satisfying.
When your students and colleagues talk about you, what do you hope they would say?
My colleagues say, “You are so organized!” I like to have materials in place for science, math or word work stations, for example, so when my students and adult helpers enter the room, I can communicate expectations and everyone can get started working and learning right away!
Any words of wisdom or advice?
My advice to any teacher with a challenging class is to build relationships and find out what motivates your students. This year we have, “smiles for good behavior,” “we’re bursting with good ideas” (Starburst), Friday “student spotlight” and marking the meeting of our behavior goals/expectations by dropping marbles in a jar. Hopefully these things working together will enhance behavior and learning and lead my students to a successful school year.
Support Staff Spotlight on Katie Pirkel
Katie Pirkel
Administrative Secretary to the Principal at WHS

I was raised in Watertown and graduated from Watertown High School in 2001. After graduation, I attended Madison Area Technical College and earned my Associate Degree as an Administrative Assistant. I just started my 16 th year as the Principal’s Administrative Assistant at Watertown High School.
When not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching sports, hiking/camping, taking care of my house and walking my dog, Sophie, who I rescued three years ago.
What do you love most about your work at the Watertown Unified School District?
I love getting to know the students and staff. I have been fortunate enough to work alongside some of my former teachers, whom I have so much respect for!
Share a favorite success story.
My favorite WHS memory is working with the White House staff when First Lady Michelle Obama came to WHS with the Drink Up Campaign.
Share a surprising fact about yourself.
I am an avid Badger, Brewer and Packer fan!
When your students and colleagues talk about you, what do you hope they would say?
I hope that they would say that I am a dedicated co-worker and take pride in my work!
Any words of wisdom or advice?
Make every day count!
Watertown Unified School District | 920-262-1460 |  www.watertown.k12.wi.us