WILLIAMS BAY — In recognition of significantly exceeding educational expectations and meeting achievement and graduation objectives for its students, the high school was recently awarded the state Department of Public Instruction’s Title I School of Recognition Award for the 2013-14 school year.
According to a DPI press release, 167 state schools won the awards this year.
But Williams Bay High School was one of just 13 high schools statewide to earn a School of Recognition Award this year.
It was also only one of two Walworth County schools to receive that recognition. The other was Phoenix Middle School in the Delavan-Darien School District.
“I’ve very proud of our students,” said Dianna Woss, Williams Bay School Board president.
“We have a good faculty and great students.”
Woss said she is looking forward to traveling to Madison Oct. 8 to accept the award on behalf of the district.
Each school will receive a plaque and $500, Woss said.
In addition, the district will be given a logo to use on all of its publications and teachers from the district will have the chance to participate in a teacher fellowship program.
Woss credited former high school and junior high school principal Barry Butters with working with students and making the award possible for Williams Bay.
“He helped to make this award possible,” said Woss.
“Everybody in Williams Bay should be proud of the high school,” she added
“This is certainly a testament to the hard work our students, pre-K -12 staff and board of education have put in to provide a rigorous academic curriculum for all students,” said Williams Bay School Superintendent Wayne Anderson.
Recently hired as superintendent, Anderson said neither he nor William White, the junior and senior high school’s new principal, had anything to do with the district earning this year’s award.
Nonetheless, Anderson said he was proud of the staff and students who won the award for the district.
Williams Bay won the recognition award for “high progress.” High progress schools must fall within the top 10 percent of schools experiencing greatest improvement in high school graduation rates and have achievement gaps that are less than three points between student groups or show evidence of reducing those gaps.
The award, however, comes with a criterion that is a sobering reality.
All award-winning schools receive federal Title I funding to provide services to high numbers or high percentages of economically disadvantaged children.
Patrick Gasper, DPI communications officer, said Williams Bay School District has been receiving Title I funding since the 2002-03 school year and has been eligible for the award since then. He said districts with 8 percent of its students coming from families who are at or below the federal poverty level qualify for the Title I award.
Woss said everyone was aware that there was a certain level of poverty in the Williams Bay district.
“Our free and reduced lunch programs have been growing,” she said. “The economy presents us with real challenges.”
This is the second year Phoenix Middle School was named as a “beating the odds” recognition school by the DPI.
Phoenix qualified for the award because it:
n Had above-average student achievement in reading and math when compared to similar-sized schools from like-sized districts with similar grade configurations and poverty levels.
n Met the state’s test-participation, attendance and dropout goals.
n Had been placed in one of the top three school report card categories of “meeting expectations,” “exceeding expectations” or “significantly exceeding expectations.”
Phoenix, the only “beating the odds” school in Walworth County, also qualified for the award because the school is in the top 25 percent of Wisconsin schools for the percentage of students receiving federal free and reduced-priced school meals.