Thursday, December 27, 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.

Delivering Bags of Hope

On December 15, 2012, volunteers from the School District of Janesville and the Janesville community prepared and packed two weeks worth of groceries for over 350 families and 50 senior citizens.  The School District of Janesville raised over $46,000.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered, donated and/or participated! 









Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Every Child a Graduate - Innovative Learning

Wisconsin is advancing education reforms to ensure every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. These reforms build on our nation-leading graduation rates, college entrance exam scores, and more students taking rigorous college-level courses.  This new initiative has been outlined by State Superintendent Tony Evers in a plan called Agenda 2017.  By 2017, the State of Wisconsin needs to reach target goals that prepare our students for success in further education and career:
  • Further increase graduation rate from 85.7 percent to 92 percent.
  • Increase career and college readiness from 32 percent to 67 percent.
  • Close graduation and career and college readiness gaps by 50 percent.
  • Increase the percentage of students scoring proficient in third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics.
  • Adopt the Fair Funding for Our Future plan to make school finance more equitable and transparent.
Below is a explanation regarding why Innovative Learning is a vital component of learning in the 21st Century and Agenda 2017.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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.


 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

E-mail Etiquette – Don’t Regret Pressing Send!


E-mail has become a part of our busy lives, and many of us use e-mail as one tool to communicate not only to family and friends, but to conduct business every day.  However, not all of our e-mails are read, many more are not responded to.  The busier we become the less likely we are to take the time to write a well phrased, and properly constructed, e-mail – especially to family and friends – and the rules of texting are significantly different and only confuse the rules of e-mail further.

While the e-mail rules for writing to family and friends, the rules for writing to business associates, work colleagues, and acquaintances haven’t changed:  and we wonder why we don’t always get a response.  Remember that when you write to someone, you’re asking them for a bit of their time; it takes time to read what you’ve written, to think about it, and to compose a response.  Here are a few tips to have your message read and responded to by others:

  1. Know your audience: is the person you’re writing a friend, an acquaintance, or a new contact?  Understanding your audience, and writing to them from their perspective, with appropriate grammar and construction is important to have your message read and understood. 
  2. Use a well-thought subject line that conveys your message accurately and quickly:  In many cases it will determine whether or not your message is opened and read.  Take the time to select a straightforward subject line that succinctly identifies the reason for your e-mail. 
  3. Know your purpose for writing:  are you sharing good news, not expecting a response?  Writing to elicit a response?  Just because you can send information faster than ever before, it does not mean that you should send it. Analyze your readers' needs to make certain that you are sending a message that will be both clear and useful.
  4. Write concisely, with proper grammar, assuming the person to whom you are writing receives a lot of e-mail.  People are busy and unless you write clearly, concisely and with strong construction, others may not choose to respond – and don’t get angry if you don’t get a response because it might be your use of grammar, writing style, or length of message that you don’t get a message in return.
  5. Imagine how others would respond if your e-mail were shared publicly: once you send an e-mail, the recipient can do with it whatever they want.  Avoid embarrassing moments by carefully constructing your emails for potential public consumption, including proofreading your document before you sent it. Rub the document thru the spell checker and/or the grammar checker.
  6. Including someone as a Cc: on an email can be an effective way of including others, but remember: when you send a message to more than one address using the Cc: field, both the original recipient and all the recipients of the carbon copies can see all the e-mail addresses in the To: and Cc: fields. Each person who receives the message will be able to see the addresses of everyone else who received it.


Before you click send, consider:


  • Is this message suitable for e-mail, or could I better communicate the information with a letter, phone call, or face-to-face meeting?


  • What is my purpose for sending this e-mail? Will the message seem important to the receiver, or will it be seen as an annoyance and a waste of time?


  • Have I provided enough context for my audience to easily understand or follow the thread of the message?


  • How many e-mails does the reader usually receive, and what will make him/her read this message (or delete it)?


  • Does the formality, style, punctuation, and grammar of my writing fit the expectations of my audience?


There are many more tips and tricks to effective e-mail communication, including Cc:’ing too many people, Bcc’ing people when not appropriate, creating digital footprints, and attaching files that everyone can open.  But if I included all of those topics, this blog would be too long for my intended audience.   If you like what you’ve read, comment on this page, and more tips and tricks will be included in an upcoming blog entry.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review


To stay consistent with our focus on transparency, I believe that it is important to keep district staff and the community up-to-date on the decisions that are being made. I will be reporting each Monday, through this blog, on the important events that occurred the previous week in a series titled “The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review”. This blog reviews what was a high priority for me the week before and explains the “why” behind important district decisions.

The week of December 10, 2012 was quite busy.  I participated in a staff information session led by Keith Fuchs of the Cooperative Educational Services Agency 6 (CESA 6).  The session focused on a proposed teacher evaluation system being designed and proposed by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction (DPI).  Decisions regarding a future teacher evaluation system will need to be made, so I, along with my cabinet, am currently studying this issue.  Janesville Education Association President Dave Parr and Vice-President Jim Reif were invited and attended the informational session.

I also met with a community business leader that may be willing to support the School District of Janesville in the future as a strategic partner.  New Board of Education policy is being drafted so we can create more strategic alliances with potential business partners.

Friday, December 14, 2012

School Volunteers Deserve Our Praise



Due primarily to recent changes in USDA nutrition standards, health department regulations and sanitation codes, the SDJ’s Food Services department will be preparing and providing a breakfast to all elementary students through the Universal Free Breakfast program (UFB). Under the new model, preparation of the breakfast, purchasing of the food, the direct serving to the students will now be the responsibility of, and will be performed by, the District’s food service staff.

Although these changes will be taking place, there is still a significant need for volunteers. Roles, such as supervisors, mentors and positive role models, are still very important. We are asking for a continued partnership with all breakfast club volunteers, beginning on January 28, 2013, to help in these areas. The SDJ has been incredibly thankful for the time and investment of local churches and professional service clubs. Our students have benefited from their sacrifices of time and resources, and the help they have provided over the years, especially through the operation of the breakfast clubs.

These volunteers have daily impacted hundreds of students. The SDJ recognizes that the caring for our children is a great measure of any community and Janesville, through its’ volunteers, has always provided a significant amount of volunteer talent and effort to meet the needs of our District and its students. We are blessed to have our volunteers, and our hope is that you continue to partner with us, even with these new changes being implemented.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Consider Purchasing WRS Service In 2012




By: Tonya Williams
Employee Relations Specialist


If you have ever terminated employment and taken a lump sum separation benefit of your employee-required Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), you may consider buying back WRS service, which usually increases the amount of your WRS retirement benefit. 

The cost to purchase years of service with WRS will change drastically between 2012 and 2013 due to the employee required contribution rate.  Contribution rates change January 1 of each year.  A general category employee earning $50,000 per year will pay $2,950 for one year of service in 2012 versus paying $3,325 for one year of service in 2013.  You can purchase WRS service with a 403(b) or IRA rollover.  If you feel you qualify to purchase service, please call the WRS at 877-533-5020 or visit their website at http://etf.wi.gov/calculators/forfeited-service-cover.htm, or District staff can contact their respective financial planner at Retirement Plan Advisors or WEA.

Please note that the Employee Trust Fund Office must receive your service application no later than your WRS termination date.  Once you have terminated employment, you are no longer eligible to purchase service.

If you have any questions regarding purchasing WRS service, please contact Tonya Williams at 743-5021 or twilliams@janesville.k12.wi.us.

Wednesday, December 12, 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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What is the Cloud?


Cloud” computing simply refers to resources and applications that are available on the Internet from just about any Internet connected device.

For example, webmail is an aspect of cloud computing. If you use Web mail services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and so forth, your e-mail is considered “in the cloud” because you can access it from any device with Internet access. That’s different from, say, POPmail where your e-mail tends to be accessed and downloaded to a single computer and erased from the server once you have it. 

In the broader sense, cloud computing is used to describe any and all applications and services hosted and run on servers connected to the Internet – servers and applications that end users (you and I) do not have to maintain or support.

And not only is this often more economical for users or companies in many cases, it also means that the amount of computing horsepower we need will be greatly reduced. This is especially significant as more and more of our computing needs are being served by smaller and smaller devices such smartphones and tablets.

Imagine a situation where, rather than running intensive applications like Photoshop or CAD programs on your personal computer, you upload your data to a computer in the cloud and it does all the heavy lifting and returns to you a finished product. We are already seeing this with sites that will process your photos like Photoshop.com or provide you with an office suite that handles documents, spreadsheets, such as Google Drive.

In the end, “The Cloud” is simply The Internet. And as time marches forward more of what we do and how we do it will happen in The Cloud.

Some information for this section was obtained from: Chron – What is the Cloud?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review



To stay consistent with our focus on transparency, I believe that it is important to keep district staff and the community up-to-date on the decisions that are being made. I will be reporting each Monday, through this blog, on the important events that occurred the previous week in a series titled “The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review”. This blog reviews what was a high priority for me the week before and explains the “why” behind important district decisions.

As Superintendent, I have a responsibility to make sure that School District of Janesville students are receiving the best possible education available.  To fulfill this obligation, I am conversing with our educational staff regarding assessments, standards-based report cards, curriculum-based assessments and the recently completed Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).  Just last week, I met with the leadership team at Kennedy Elementary School to listen and discuss what is working well and what could be done to improve student achievement.  I find myself repeatedly asking the same question, “How do we know our students are learning and mastering the essential skills and standards”?  

This year, I also completed 128 thank you notes. I appreciate the work and initiative of our staff, as we move forward in providing an excellent education for our students. My hope is that by recognizing the positive work I see in our district, the staff will be reminded that they are providing an incredible service to our students and community and they are doing it well. My goal is to provide a positive and encouraging atmosphere to work and an excellent school district for students to be educated.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review



The School District of Janesville (SDJ) has long been recognized for the proven quality of its comprehensive approach to learning.  Grounded in the basics, instructional focus emphasizes developing literacy in writing, reading and mathematics. Additional primary attention from its award winning teaching staff and administrative team places priority on knowledge, skills and dispositions associated with the natural sciences, humanities, communication arts, vocational and business career and technical education, visual and performing arts, as well as physical development.

Throughout the past 16 months, the SDJ has revealed a new focus on communication and transparency.  Internal communications has become a top priority as staff and employees now receive updates from Board of Education meetings as well as weekly updates from my office regarding district news, events and recognitions.  SDJ websites have been redesigned with a focus on reliable communication and consistent information.   My cabinet and I are also blogging every day.  The Superintendent’s Blog allows me to communicate not only with district staff, but also parents, families and the community. 

To stay consistent with our focus on transparency, I believe that it is important to keep district staff and the community up-to-date on the decisions that are being made.  I will be reporting each Monday, through my blog, on the important events that occurred the previous week in a blog series titled “The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review”.  The blog will review what was a high priority for me the week before and explain the “why” behind important district decisions.  Please sign-up to follow my blog at sdjsuper.blogspot.com for up-to-date, important district news.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Health Risk Assessments Scheduled for District Employees


By Tonya Williams
Employee Relations Specialist


February 5, 2013, marks the first day that Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) will be held for employees that carry our health insurance.  A final schedule along with specific information for employees to complete this process will be published the week of December 10, 2012.

In order for teachers to earn his or her insurance premium discount, an HRA is the only requirement.

In order for administrators, support staff, custodians, clerical and food service staff (who are enrolled in the District’s health insurance) to earn his or her insurance premium discount, they must participate in wellness activities.  If you complete a HRA, employees from this group can earn 50 points toward his or her wellness plan.

If you have questions regarding Health Risk Assessments or the District’s wellness plan, please contact Tonya Williams at 743-5021.

Wednesday, December 5, 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 Tour Mercy Hospital
Craig Teacher Sandy Lubeck took a group of students to tour Mercy Hospital as part of Health Occupations class. They learned how to suture using an orange and were able to try the daVinci robot simulator. They were also able to visit the operating room and observe a physician using the robot to remove bone and tissue from a patient.
Over 2000 People Attend Miss Saigon Performance at Parker High School
Parker presented Miss Saigon to our community.  They had over 2000 people attend the performances! Because of the success, the music department added another weekend to the show. In addition to the show, they had community members bring in war memorabilia, including army jeeps, uniforms and two helicopters!  Students attended a presentation by a Vietnam veteran who lives in Janesville and learned about his experiences during the war in Vietnam. 
Rock River Charter School Students Learn about Post-Secondary Educational Opportunities
On November 13, 2012, four presenters from Blackhawk Technical College presented a voluntary session on post-secondary educational opportunities with a special emphasis on the welding program. 
Van Buren Integrates Technology in the 5th Grade Common Core Curriculum
Working on a European Exploration App. for the iPad, students read about different explorers and ships.  They were able to choose what they felt was the best transportation choice and scenario and then set out into the "dark" world to make discoveries!  In addition, students are using spell free to practice spelling words, and science 8 apps to reinforce the concept of the 3 states of matter. Thanks to Sherri Mullooly, 5th grade teacher at Van Buren!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Technology News: Secure Print

The School District of Janesville is in the process of improving printing efficiencies and controlling its associated costs.  One of the features we are implementing is called “Secure Print.”

In a standard printing environment, print jobs are sent directly to the printer for immediate printing. This frequently results in wasted paper and toner when print jobs are forgotten and not collected. It also presents a security risk if the information in those forgotten print jobs was sensitive or confidential.

“Secure Print” uses the same technology that controls the security for our buildings to control the security for our print jobs.  This software “holds” the print jobs until the staff member uses their building security fob to release it for printing.  By using the existing building security technology, we assure that all staff print jobs remain confidential until they are there to collect their work from the printer; and we lower our printing costs because print jobs sent to the printer, but not collected, no longer cost us.  

Secure printing is being implemented in the School District of Janesville.  Half of the district is done and we anticipate that the entire district being completed by mid to late-January.

Secure Print offers:

Confidentiality - sensitive jobs are held until the user is available to collect them.  Jobs only print when released by the user.

Reduced wastage - no more uncollected print jobs, and no more wasted paper or toner.  Print jobs not released will not be printed, therefore, it automatically saves money.

Building Budget Savings – the cost savings associated with Secure Print remain with the schools, offering more resources for classrooms.