Monday, August 20, 2012

Next Steps in the Handbook Development Part II

As the 2012-2013 school year begins, there are many questions regarding the development of a School District of Janesville Employee Handbook which is targeted to go into effect on July 1, 2013.  Though far from addressing everyone’s specific questions, I have identified five key concerns that seem to be on everyone’s mind.  In my efforts to keep everyone informed and up to date on the Handbook process, I would like to share my responses with you to these common concerns. 
What method will be used for stakeholder’s input? 
As you may recall, last May I held several focus group sessions throughout the district as a way to seek input on issues that were important to school employees and community members.   Topics included transfers and vacancies, evaluations, staff reductions/layoffs, seniority, non-renewals, discharge, suspensions, general working conditions, professional staff development, grievance procedures, school calendar, class size, salary schedules, insurance, leaves and early retirement.  In addition,  a survey was sent out in January to all district employees seeking input on employee benefits. 
The data gathered from the focus groups and the employee benefit survey will become an essential part of the research phase for each section of the employee handbook. 
In addition to this data, invited representatives from the school community will sit at the table with the Board of Education during three special meetings convened exclusively for discussion of sections of the employee handbook. 
Finally, remember that at any time during the upcoming school year any employee or other interested party may make comments regarding the issues relevant to working conditions and other terms of employment to me through email, postal mail, text or by requesting a scheduled meeting time. 
How will employee handbook updates be communicated to stakeholders?
During this academic year it is critical that communication with regard to handbook updates be frequent, accurate, and accessible.   With that in mind you can expect to read monthly updates on my blog and also monthly updates will be printed in each building Principal’s Newsletter.   There will also be a link on the Janesville School District website announcing the special meetings along with the agenda.  Finally, following each of the special Board of Education meetings, the minutes will be available for public viewing. 
Are there sections that take precedent over others for completion?
Reviewing and adopting the employee health benefit plan is a priority for the beginning of the upcoming school year.  The urgency to address this issue first rests with the facts that 1)  all employees of the district regardless of pay, position, or other status are required to be offered the same health benefits and 2) renewal for administrators’ contracts are scheduled for January and the uniform  health benefit plan must be decided prior to that date. 
The discussion and approval of the health benefit plan in September will be followed with discussion and approval of the Early Retirement Benefit Plan in November. 
Closing Thoughts
As we move through the process of drafting and adopting an employee handbook we know that we will face some challenges, experience some tension, and develop more questions.  More than ever, we need to keep building a positive relationship with one another.  We can do this through mutual respect and effective communication.  I am committed to living these values.


  1. Will the transcripts from the listening session last spring be available for all to review?

    I think is important for not only you to hear what everyone has to say, but for all of us to hear what other employees are saying in regards to the handbook.

  2. How do we access the transcripts and the data collected in the employee benefits survey?


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