Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Look What’s On!

The School District of Janesville has recently upgraded its broadcasting capabilities for Board of Education meetings, which are shown on Charter Cable channel 96 or 996 (HD).  Each BoE meeting has been broadcast live since the mid-80s, using the same camera and broadcasting equipment installed decades ago.  Technology has advanced tremendously since then, giving us flat-screen TVs, digital broadcasts, and high-resolution cameras. 
The new cameras give us the option for cleaner and clearer pictures, and better voice quality for everyone involved.  We are proud of this upgrade, and committed to everyone having access to view the BoE meetings.  As such, you can not only watch them live on Charter Cable, but are also able to watch school board meetings “on demand” through our District website.    
Take a moment to watch our recorded BoE meetings and let us know what you think of the improved picture and better sound quality.  Your feedback is welcome.

Monday, July 30, 2012

H-A-N-D-L-E Stress

It is important to note that although many of us experience stress on a regular basis, we may not all realize that stress can cause physical pain, injury, or sudden death.  To prevent the worst-case scenario, try to get a H-A-N-D-L-E on the origins of your stress and aim for solid improvement.
Here are some thought-provoking questions to help you assess the stress in your life.
H – Happiness.  Do you thrive in your position and welcome constant changes and challenges with a smile?
A – Attitude.  Do you hold a positive attitude concerning your current position in general, or are you possibly (even if mildly) depressed about the demands of your career?
N – Neutral.  Are you often indefinite, indifferent, “thrown for a loop” when pressured to make a final decision?
D – Demands.  Are you often asked to perform “above and beyond” what you feel your available time and professional ability will allow?
L – Lifestyle.  Do you exercise regularly, eat properly, and get enough sleep?
E – Environmental.  Do you have allergies and/or physical limitations?  Have you recently consulted a physician for a current evaluation, updated or adjusted medication, or added some kind of therapy?
Stress is a part of life.  We must learn to deal with it, but not necessarily alone.  Think about what stresses you.  Discuss your concerns with family members, close friends, and trusted physicians. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Building a Culture of Care: Welcoming Everyone We Encounter

Recently, one of the school district employees mentioned to me how welcomed she felt whenever she came to the Educational Services Center (ESC). Here are her thoughts:

"I have truly appreciated how welcoming all of the ESC staff have been. When I first started working for the district, I felt nervous and uncomfortable going to the ESC, but whenever I stepped through the door any employee I ran into would instantly smile and if we were walking past each other, they would say “hello.” At first it seemed unusual to me, but through that little kindness, I felt welcomed into the district."

What the staff at the ESC is doing is actually known as the 5/10 greet.

What is the 5/10 greet?

When walking into the corridor or if someone walks into your office, acknowledge him or her with a smile and nod when they are 10 feet away. When they are within 5 feet acknowledge them with a verbal greeting. This simple action creates a culture of caring by accomplishing three things:

1)      We welcome people into our building.
2)      We invite people new to our building to ask questions if they are uncertain, lost or simply     curious.
3)      We let people know that they are valued, not simply another face in our building.

I want to thank the ESC staff for doing a great job at welcoming people into our building and district. I also want to encourage staff around the district to adopt this action into their daily routine. Because our staff values the students, parents and their coworkers, let’s create this culture of caring by welcoming people into our buildings and district, showing them that they are valued and noticed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Does My Health Insurance Cover While Traveling Abroad?

Tonya Williams, Employee Relations Specialist
School District of Janesville

Unfortunately there comes a time while traveling abroad that a staff member may need medical services.  While planning your trip abroad keep this information in mind in case that need arises.

Medical services outside of the States are covered; however, you will have to pay the expenses out of your own pocket.  When you return home you will submit the claim to the Alliance for reimbursement.  If you do receive medical services in another country, make sure to get an itemized statement of services rendered.  This ensures that you have the proper documentation if the insurance company has questions about whether the services should be covered.  Keep in mind that Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide coverage outside of the United States.

If you need a prescription while traveling abroad, you will also be responsible for this expense.  Once again save your receipts, and save the labels from the prescription bottles to submit to Navitus for reimbursement.

Before you pack that passport, you may wish to visit "Tips for Traveling Abroad" created by the U.S. State Department for helpful tips to make your trip enjoyable and safe!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville (SDJ) is a forum to recognize outstanding performances and achievements by SDJ employees, students and schools.
Craig High School Students Go Beyond Expectations

Members of Beyond Expectations (a group of African American males from CHS) presented at Craig's final all-staff meeting. They shared that the group has made a difference in terms of self-monitoring and motivation. Members of the group recognized teachers who've had a positive impact on them at their year-end banquet.

Franklin Middle School shows off its “Green” Thumb
Jim Dulin (Franklin’s Maintenance Person) and the Franklin CLC (under the direction of Kris Murray) added mulch and plants to brighten up front entrance at Franklin Middle School.

Jefferson Elementary School Raises Money for UW Children’s Hospital
Jefferson students raised over $1500 for University of Wisconsin’s Pet Pals.  Pet Pals is a program that brings pets into the UW Children’s Hospital to help comfort children while they are dealing with cancer or trauma.  As part of our service learning project, students were able to meet some of the pets and hear about the benefits from one of our students who benefited from the pets while she was at the hospital dealing with a severe injury to her arm.  As part of our celebration and with the success of the project, the UW Marching and Bucky Badger came to Jefferson and performed the “5th quarter.”  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wisconsin Technology Initiative – Lighthouse Grant from John and Tashia Morgridge

The School District of Janesville has received a grant from the Wisconsin Technology Initiative, sponsored by philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge. This $75,000  Lighthouse Grant adds interactive technologies in the Middle School Science and Project Lead the Way classrooms. The title of the Grant is Transforming STEM Achievement through Interactive Technologies and builds on a similar grant received last year from thesame foundation.  

“The district’s vision is to use interactive classroom technologies to prepare students for success in higher education and a globally competitive workforce. In order to be prepared for this globally competitive world, PreK-12 students need to comprehend what they read and hear, think critically and abstractly, collaborate with each other and experts in the field, problem solve, and communicate in a digital learning environment.

The grant not only makes possible the equipment, but provides for quality professional development. Since the summer of 2011
the Grant has made it possible for 252 teachers to complete Level 1 and Level 2 SMART Board and SMART Notebook training by SMART Certified trainers.  Additional training is being made possible this year as well, focusing on “SMART Notebook Content Creation,” August 16 and 24 at Parker High School.  This is an opportunity for all staff to delve deeper into creating engaging SMART Lessons that emphasize student interaction at the board. They will join the collaborative team of teachers from around the state who are sharing their files with colleagues in their same grade and discipline.

We are proud that the district’s vision is becoming a reality through the generosity of the Wisconsin Technology Initiative Grant and the visionary and supportive leadershipof the Board of Education, Directors, Principals, and Faculty.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Discipline is Teaching

Often, we think of discipline as punishment, but have we considered what it really means?  Discipline means to teach, instruct, demonstrate, and reinforce.
As adult role models (parents, teachers, grandparents, etc.) our role is to model the behavior we want in our students.  Are we loud at times, like when we want our students to be quiet either at home or in the classroom?  When we model the behavior we want, our students will unconsciously begin to behave that way.  They desire to please us with their behavior and actions. 
Another way to discipline is by getting the child’s complete attention.  Do we have eye contact?  Do we speak clearly and unemotionally?  Are our words easy to understand?  Do we give clear consequences for the behavior?
We must communicate clearly to get our students to follow our instructions and behave the way we desire.  Discipline doesn’t always have to be negative; in fact, discipline is a positive part of teaching.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The School District of Janesville - Leaving No Stone Unturned

Renewal of Third Party Administrator for Medical Claims and Reinsurance/Stop

The School District of Janesville (SDJ) received the administrative services renewal for our health insurance program from our Third Party Administrator, UMR, and our reinsurance carrier for Stop Loss Coverage, Sun Life.  The estimated increase was a whopping 21% of their total cost.

Our new Insurance Consultants, the Boyds, came to the rescue.  After an extensive review of the proposals received, Boyd consultants recommended that the District move these services to Professional Benefit Administrators (PBA) for Third Party Administration services and Zurich Life Insurance for reinsurance (Stop Loss) coverage.  They also recommended that the School District of Janesville increase our “Stop Loss” deductable to $375,000.  The Superintendent approved this recommendation and as a result, the District will realize an annual savings of $438,193 when compared to the renewal quotes from UMR/Sun Life.  This is an estimated 41% savings. 

This change will go into effect on September 1, 2012. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

AIDET - Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, Thank you

There are distinct ways that we can use decisive, direct words that take action and give our students and parents confidence in our ability to provide strong leadership. We can Acknowledge our students as individuals; Introduce ourselves in an effective manner that gives parents confidence; discuss Duration of time in clear, open way; give strong Explanations to student and parent questions; and Thank those we interact with for their time, communication and cooperation.
When meeting with parents and students Acknowledge them by name and make strong eye contact. This shows that you value them and are giving them your full attention. Acknowledging, however, goes beyond the initial greeting of a parent or student. When discussing a student’s progress with a parent, to answer “Billy is doing pretty well in math” is insubstantial, even as an introduction to the topic. Answering in more concrete ways “Billy has a strong grasp on multiplication; however, he is struggling to understand long division” not only provides a sounding board for starting a proactive conversation on Billy’s education, but it also indicates the concern, notice and individual attention you give to Billy. It is apparent to Billy’s parents that you’ve taken time to truly invest in and acknowledge him as an individual.
When first meeting your students’ parents, or on the first day of class, Introduce yourself, your skill set, your professional certification and experience. Share with your students and their parents why they should have confidence in your ability to teach and lead them.
When a student raises their hand to ask for help on an assignment, instead of saying “I’ll be with you as soon as possible,” which leaves the student uncertain of how long he or she will have to wait, try phrases such as “When I am done helping Missy, I will come help you next.  It shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes.” The student has a cue to look for. They know that they will be helped next, which gives students a Duration of time. This builds student confidence in us when we give an accurate estimation of time; however, it does not need to only be reserved for our students. In discussing with a parent the actions that you will take with their child, using specific language related to time allows the parent to 1) be able to check progress over that time line and 2) have confidence that you will take these actions because there is a lack of ambiguity.
What do you say to the parent whose child is terrified of the kindergarten classroom and will not stop crying? “I will personally take Suzie around and introduce her to the other children. Once she starts playing, she will feel much more comfortable. I also want to assure you that I will be giving her the attention she needs to feel secure here.” There is a specific action plan, and you are providing an Explanation of the step-by-step actions you will be taking. It builds confidence by giving clarity to the expectations. This approach should also be used when addressing action steps to improve a student’s reading and math scores, to raise his or her current grade or in helping students comprehend the course materials.
Take time to Thank the students who come in asking for help, or the parents who enter into a dialogue regarding their student’s progress. The students who choose to seek out help are a blessing. They are taking time to value their education. We want to foster and encourage this type of attitude, so thank those students who seek you out. Thank parents for their communication and cooperation in regards to their child’s education. We should be grateful for the parents who communicate with us, and we should let them know that we are thankful for them.
Our words are powerful. Let us find ourselves using strong, positive words; words that give our students, parents and community members confidence in us and our ability to lead this generation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Food That’s In When School’s Out

The School District of Janesville (SDJ) is very fortunate to have such a talented Food Service Department.  The Food Service Department served breakfast in 15 buildings last year, lunch in 19 buildings and after school snacks in four buildings.  This summer, they have been serving meals at 15 sites throughout Janesville.  During a recent presentation before the Janesville Board of Education, Food Service Manager Jim Degan explained that the School District of Janesville served over 1.3 million meals during the past school year.  Great Job!
The School District of Janesville will also be hosting the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at Adams Elementary School, Madison Elementary School, Wilson Elementary School, Bond Park Pavilion, and the Boys and Girls Club from through August 16th.
Lunch will be served at Adams Elementary School (except 7/24-7/27), Madison Elementary School, and Wilson Elementary School from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Lunches will be served at Bond Park Pavilion from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and the Boys and Girls Club from 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
We encourage children under the age of 18 to take advantage of these “Free Lunches” throughout the remainder of the summer.  SDJ summer lunches help provide food that’s in when school’s out.  Lunches will be served on the playgrounds at the schools and should be eaten on site. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Laughter – The More the Merrier

Research shows that children laugh up to 100 times a day.  Adults laugh less than 10 times a day.  That is unfortunate for adults because a good laugh relaxes tense muscles, speeds more oxygen into your system, and lowers blood pressure.  No wonder children are so healthy and have so much energy!  Knowing the benefits, it might even pay for us adults to make each other laugh.
As we teach children reading, writing, and math, let’s also teach them that it’s good to have a sense of humor.  Let children/students see you smile and laugh.  This might also be a good time to help youngsters begin to understand the difference between socially acceptable and inappropriate humor.  Read humorous books with you children.  Watch funny videos or television shows together.  Learn to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake and children will follow your lead.
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old.  You grow old because you stop laughing.”
– Michael Pritchard

Monday, July 16, 2012

Breaking the Sound Barrier

The School District of Janesville is committed to being a good neighbor to businesses and families.  It was brought to our attention, after the remodeling of Craig High School was completed in the Spring of 2009, that additional work needed to be finished. Included in this remodel was the addition of a new air conditioning/cooling mechanical area on the northeast side of the building. A result of the mechanical area was an increase in ambient sound.

To address the residents' concerns, officials from the School District of Janesville (SDJ) hired a contractor and a mechanical engineering company and completed several projects in an attempt to lessen the sound level coming from the mechanical equipment located at the northeast corner of Craig High School. Sound levels remained a concern to nearby residents after these projects were completed.

In response to their continued concerns, the SDJ initiated a study to research options/actions for reducing intrusive sound levels and to examine the cost required to make additional improvements regarding the sound levels coming from the mechanical equipment.

As a result of the study, the SDJ decided to take a more aggressive approach to reducing the sound emanating from the mechanical area and constructed a sound barrier wall. The SDJ agreed that this would be the most cost effective and direct way to eliminate the greatest amount of sound possible. This resulted in the construction of a sound barrier wall as recommended and quoted by O'Neill Engineering, Inc.

Since the installation of the sound barrier wall, early in May of 2011, the SDJ has received no citizen comments, questions or concerns about the sound level coming from the mechanical equipment located at the NE corner of Craig High School.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hardwiring Culture

The Standards of Professional Behavior are behaviors that define our culture. We have all read them, many of us signed a paper saying we will uphold them; however, it is my desire for these standards to be hardwired for each employee who works for the School District of Janesville (SDJ). This would create a culture that would instill a sense of pride as each SDJ employee takes ownership of these actions, making them essential to their way of living and being in the workplace. 
To hardwire culture, it is crucial to look at the “why” and give our actions meaning.  The little and big actions we do, or do not do, impact our school communities. Each directly or indirectly impacts the students we teach or interact with in the halls, our coworkers, and the parents who enter our building. We want to ensure that the culture we are creating is one of Respect, Caring, Honesty, Cooperation and Responsibility.
Over the next weeks, I will be blogging Creating a Culture of….

These blogs will look at specific ways that we, as individuals and as a school district embracing each of our school communities, can continue to build a great culture for students to learn, teachers to teach, staff and administrators to work and parents to send their children with confidence.
I want to invite each of you into the conversation. I know that many of you have stories of your own success or the success of a coworker or staff member. We want this to be a forum where we not only discuss ways of creating this culture, but also celebrate the good work already being done.
I look forward to taking this journey with each of you, strengthening our skills together and encouraging one another to be a strong District founded on our Standards of Professional Behavior (SOPB).  Our SOPB were created with at least one representative from each union and employee group.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Three Ways to Save Costs on Prescriptions

By Tonya Williams
Employee Relations Specialist

Regardless if it’s a maintenance drug you are taking regularly, or if it’s a one-time prescription you need filled, you can find ways to save out-of-pocket costs on prescriptions.  If you currently take a maintenance drug, you should consider enrolling in the District’s mail order prescription drug plan.  By enrolling in the mail order program, you will receive a 90-day (3 months) supply for the cost of two co-pays versus the three co-pays you would normally pay at the pharmacy.  Please go to www.myWDRX.com to enroll online.

Example of the cost savings to you:

There are times you may just need a one-time prescription.  When you are at the doctor’s office, you can access Navitus’ (our prescription carrier)  website at www.navitus.com  to find a drug on a lower tier.  As illustrated above, drugs on Tier One are $5.00; Tier Two are $15; and Tier Three are $30. This allows you and your doctor to find a drug that is cost-effective without compromising the quality of care you are seeking.

The third way you can save out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions is by using the District’s Flexible Spending Plan.  Flexible Spending allows a staff member to elect to deduct money from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis to pay for co-pays for medications and other medical services that may not be covered under your health plan.  (The open enrollment time period is November through December.)  If you are enrolled in the Flex Spending Plan, you simply submit your receipts to Diversified Benefits Services, to be reimbursed for the cost of your prescription co-pays.

I hope you find these ideas useful to help save you out-of-pocket costs, as well as save the District money.  If you have any questions regarding the District’s mail order service, the prescription formulary or the Flexible Spending Plan, contact Tonya Williams at 743-5021.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's Right in the School District of Janesville

The School District of Janesville is fortunate to have many students who are successful in both academic and extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities help students become well-rounded and prepared for future endeavors.  Extracurricular activities aid students in finding a niche and are a way to help them find others who are interested in similar groups, sports or organizations.

Congratulations to the following 2012 WIAA State qualifiers and the coaches who helped them reach this level of competition:

2012 WIAA State Boys' Golf Meet Qualifiers        

·         Ryne Clatworthy
·         Jordan Gagg
·         Nick Kyle
·         Nolan Moran
·         D.J. Mussey
·         Tommy White
·         Coach: Domanic Wiegel

·         Tayor Braun
·         Charlie Grafft
·         Peyton Graham
·         Johnathan Milner
·         Dustin Richards
·         Coach John Zimmerman
·         Coach Bob Eicher

2012 WIAA State Track and Field Qualifiers

·         Erik Albeck
·         Kyle Amundson
·         Shawn Bohler
·         Ashley Hartwig
·         Brad Money
·         Michael Money
·         Max Monson
·         Ben Ramsdell
·         Noah Seichter
·         Miranda Slaback
·         Trevor Steinke
·         Adam Vesterfelt
·         Coach Joe Dye
·         Coach Dave Lehmann
·         Coach John Brikowski
·         Coach Cathy Lehmann
·         Coach Dick Schuh
·         Coach Mike Smrekar

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

School District of Janesville Revenue to Increase, While Property Taxes Could Decrease

The School District of Janesville and property tax payers in Janesville appear to be in a win-win situation.  The School District of Janesville’s equalization aid from the state is projected to increase $2.3 million to approximately $65 million according to numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The State of Wisconsin issues a revenue limit or control on the revenue a school district is entitled to receive each year. The control applies to revenue received from two sources: general state aid (equalization, special adjustment, and integration aids) and select local tax levies.  The School District of Janesville’s 2012-2013 revenue limit is estimated to be $93.8 million which is $630,532 less than what the 2011-2012 revenue limit was.  In addition, the proposed 2012-2013 revenue limit is $555,041 more than the actual revenue limit incurred in 2011-2012 because the Janesville Board of Education taxed $1.2 million less than the maximum revenue limit last year.

The School District of Janesville, if taxing to the maximum allowed by the State of Wisconsin, will set the General Fund tax levy at $28.7 million which is $1.8 million less than the amount levied by the Janesville Board of Education for the 2011-2012 school year.  Furthermore, the School District of Janesville will receive an additional increase of $50 per student in adjustment aid, which could possibly total $498,450 if the maximum tax levy is achieved and student enrollment remains stable. 

So what does this mean for the School District of Janesville and local property owners?  If the Janesville Board of Education were to levy the maximum amount allowed, $28.7 million, the average property in Janesville would see a tax reduction of $34.00 per year ($112,000 home).  This would represent a revenue increase at the state and local level of $555,041 for the School District of Janesville.  The District would also qualify for an additional $498,450 in the estimated per student aid adjustment for taxing to the maximum revenue limit. 

The School District of Janesville could potentially realize an increase in revenue of $1 million for the 2012-2013 school year while the property tax payers could observe, on average, a decrease.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Janesville Excellence in Education Foundation Needs Your Help!

The Janesville Excellence in Education (EIE) Foundation was established in 2010 with donations from local businesses, alumni, and supporters of the School District of Janesville. The Foundation's mission is to enhance educational programs, extend educational opportunities, encourage innovation, and recognize the achievement of students and staff. The Foundation is independent of the school district operating budget.

The EIE Foundation is working on a fundraising venture to park cars at Adams Elementary School during the Rock County 4H Fair this year, July 23 - July 29.  The foundation needs adults and students to help with this project.

EIE will provide vests, flashlights to direct traffic, water, bathrooms, some chairs, first aid kit, and snacks.  Shifts will be scheduled in four-hour increments, although any time commitment would be greatly appreciated. 

What they need from you: 
1.              At least 2 adults for every shift
2.              Students are welcome and encouraged to volunteer

If you, your group or organization would like to participate, please contact Gail Graham at ggraham@janesville.k12.wi.us.