Thursday, January 31, 2013

Get Moving!

It should come as no surprise that sitting around and not moving all day isn't really good for your body, but many may not be aware of just how many problems can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

Most of us have been led to believe that a workout after work is enough to make up for sitting still all day.  Think again. New studies have shown that exercise once a day, even for an hour, isn't enough to make up for sitting all day at work.  

Whether by choice or as a requirement of your job, you should consider the impact that prolonged sitting has on your health and expenditures related to healthcare. Our bodies aren't really designed to sit all day long.  Here are 7 risks to keep in mind:

1.      Deep Vein Thrombosis. If you don't get up and walk around occasionally, you could be putting yourself at risk of potentially deadly blood clots in your legs.
2.      Obesity. can slow your metabolism and change how your body functions, further contributing to weight gain.
3.      Risk of Diabetes. Sitting all day actually causes your body to slow down considerably and can result in increased blood sugar (since your body doesn't need the sugar for energy it simply stays in your system), insulin resistance and a much less healthy you.
4.      Herniated Disk.. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your hips and spine, and can lead to some injuries in those areas over an extended period of time.
5.      Poor Posture. Weakened muscles and tight joints
6.      Knee Pain. Sitting in this position puts pressure on the kneecap and can lead to pain and swelling
7.      Increased Risk of Depression. Reduced movement means less blood flow. Less blood flow means fewer feel-good hormones are moving through your body, putting you at higher risk of depression.

This message is not all doom and gloom of course. You can do something about this starting with the obvious.  Get up and move and do this often throughout the day.  As a school district we should also be conscious of how often our students are sitting during the day.  They too need to move frequently.

Get up, get exercising and start reducing the effects of being sedentary before it is too late.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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. Each week, between now and the end of the school year, SDJ will focus on positive achievements from a specific school.

Wilson Elementary School Receives Two Grants!

Wilson Elementary has received two grants. The first grant was in the amount of $5,000 from the Cronin Foundation. The money will be used to purchase warm winter outerwear for students in need. Mrs. Norton and Mr. DeSormeau are working on purchasing the coats, boots, and snow pants from Blain’s Farm and Fleet. The second grant was in the amount of $125.00 from the JTAG Board. Mrs. Farmer applied for this grant through the Connecting with Nature program in the spring.

Thank you Mrs. Lee!

Mrs. Jeanne Lee is the Wilson Elementary school secretary.  She goes above and beyond in her job every day.  Jeanne is very kind, patient, and helpful with parents, teachers, students, and support staff.  Wilson students adore Mrs. Lee because she takes time to get to know each and every student.  Mrs. Lee has lunch with students on a regular basis and has a Rock Club each week.  Students write Mrs. Lee a paragraph stating why they should belong in Rock Club.  Mrs. Lee then rewards the students with a rock box that she makes to put all of their rocks in that she gives them for rock club.  Mrs. Lee and her husband also organized another very successful Holiday Shoppe event at Wilson that brought in more than $1,100 for the Wilson Student Activity account.  Mrs. Lee and her husband, Mark, organize the shop, contact the donors and volunteers for the shop, and secure many wonderful items from local churches and auctions.   The Holiday Shoppe at Wilson allows families to purchase quality holiday gifts at an affordable price, all items are marked at $1.00, to share with loved ones during the holiday season.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Safety in our Schools

As a result of the violence at Sandy Hook the School District of Janesville in collaboration with the Janesville Police Department has worked hard to affirm for parents and the community the safety of our children is a combined top priority. For example; Project Direct Connect, in which there will be a police radio placed in each building that connects the school directly with each officer on duty in the case of an extreme emergency. 

You may also notice, when you visit buildings in the district, the manner in which you are greeted has changed.  Anyone greeting visitors at the door will ask:

  1. The visitors’ name
  2. The purpose of their business
  3. The name of the person the visitor plans to meet with

The School District of Janesville is asking that each visitor to district buildings be very patient and respond appropriately, as safety is our main concern. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

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.

I had the honor of attending the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on January 18, 2013 at the Eclipse Center in Beloit, Wisconsin.  Many Rock County organizations and businesses were represented.  Some local leaders were asked to say a few words on behalf of their organizations.  They were:

The Wisconsin State Senate ~ State Senator Tim Cullen
The Wisconsin State Legislature ~ Representative Janis Ringhand
The School District of Beloit ~ Superintendent Steve McNeal
The School District of Janesville ~ Superintendent Dr. Karen Schulte

I have included my comments below:

I bring you greetings from the School District of Janesville. It is a privilege to be her with you today to honor this great leader – Martin Luther King. I am reminded of one of his quotes that I have carried with me through a good part of my life bringing it to mind whenever the going gets hard.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

These have been times on challenge and controversy for our State, for our educational system, and for our livelihood. Let us stand together today in support and encouragement of one another as we continue forward to break the chains of injustice and move through the challenges of life in the manner of Dr. King with grace, courage and humility. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

“I Accept this Award on Behalf of…..”

My acceptance speech after receiving Forward Janesville’s
“Woman of Excellence Award” on January 24, 2013

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, it is a habit.” - Aristotle.
Five years ago, the School District of Janesville embarked on a Journey of Excellence.  A previous School Board, some who are still on the board today, had a vision to create an educational system based on excellence,  accountability and transparency. Board President Bill Sodemann, who was a member of that School Board, is with us today.  Using a model developed by Quint Studer, the School District of Janesville embarked on this journey.  The current School Board continues that vision as we strive to be the best school district in the state, in the country and in the world. I am in good company here today, as I share honors with companies such as PRENT and their CEO Joe Pregont, whose company is the best in the world at what they do.
As the School District of Janesville has embraced the habit of excellence over these past five years, we have received a number of awards and accolades.  Kennedy Elementary School received the national blue ribbon award – the first time in the history of the School District of Janesville a school has received this honor.  Parker High School was selected as one of the best high schools in the nation by US World and News report, a first for the School District of Janesville high school.  Our Chinese program at Harrison, Roosevelt and Madison Elementary Schools as well as Edison and Marshall Middle Schools was selected as one of the best in the nation.  The School District of Janesville has also received numerous state and individual awards.  I am proud of these accomplishments, but more importantly I am proud that our students are achieving at such a high standard.  I know that our students must be ready for college or technical school when they graduate, ready for jobs that may not have been created yet. Our students must also be globally competitive and comfortable living in today’s connected world.
Many of you know I just returned from China. While there, our American students spoke to Chinese students via Skype.  This was the beginning of a video conferencing relationship where we will learn and collaborate together. I have watched and observed many people in China and those that are most successful in daily operations are those that know the culture, the language and are as comfortable in China as they are in the United States. 
I accept this award today on behalf of my School Board who holds me to a very high standard of accountability.  I accept this award on behalf of my cabinet, many who are here today.  I accept this award on behalf of my wonderful teachers and employees. I accept this award on behalf of those people who support and love me no matter what; my friends and my family.  I have my husband here, Steve Schulte, and my older son Nick. They are my foundation.  They are the ones that see me at my worst and still love and care about me. This award, born by the habit of pursuing excellence on a daily basis,  belongs to all of you who are accompanying me on my journey.
Thank you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fitness Club Opportunities for District Staff

By:  Tonya Williams, Employee Relations Specialist
School District of Janesville

It’s not uncommon for the motivation to stick to New Year’s resolutions slip away.  The enthusiasm of new goals often fades as the temptation to indulge takes over.  The School District of Janesville wants you to achieve your goal(s) of becoming more fit, becoming more active and perhaps shedding some pounds. The District works close with the Janesville Athletic Club and the YMCA to provide discounted memberships to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Any District staff member is invited to join the Janesville Athletic Club or the YMCA for a discounted membership.  Both fitness clubs offer convenient locations, state-of-the-art equipment, and fitness classes.

For more information regarding the services that the Athletic Club provide, please call 756-3737.  For more information regarding the services that the YMCA offers, please call 754-9622.  Be sure to tell them you are School District of Janesville staff member, so you can enjoy the discounted membership!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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. Each week, between now and the end of the school year, SDJ will focus on positive achievements from a specific school.

Roosevelt Staff Members Make Positive Parent Contacts!
Roosevelt Elementary School staff has a combined 426 parent contacts for November/December.

Roosevelt Receives Wisconsin Nutritious, Delicious Grant!
The Roosevelt 4th grade team received $750 from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for the Wisconsin Nutritious, Delicious Sub grant.  This grant will allow Roosevelt to have lessons on vegetables, milk and nutrition.  The money will be used to purchase food and equipment for comparative tasting.

Roosevelt Teacher Attending National Institute!
Confucius Classrooms has approved Roosevelt for funding again this year through Hanban for our Chinese program at Roosevelt and through the School District of Janesville.
Ms. Wang (Roosevelt/Harrison Chinese Teacher) was selected to attend the third annual Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Teachers Institute which will take place in Los Angeles, California.  Here participation is funded by the Asia Society.

Roosevelt Students Compete in NOETIC Learning Math Contest!
On November 1, 2012, 25 third-grade students,  26 fourth-grade students, and 28  fifth-grade students from Roosevelt Elementary School led by Lori Lowe, Beth Ulring, and Lynn Little, as well as 18 fourth-grade students and 8 fifth-grade students from Madison Elementary School led by Vikki Kratz, competed in the NOETIC Learning Math Contest.

The NOETIC Learning Math Contest is an elementary math problem solving contest held twice a year. 12,630 young students representing 649 teams across the country participated in the fall contest.  Roosevelt had numerous students place in the top 10% (participating students) in the country!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is Moodle?

Moodle is a Virtual Learning Environment (Online Software), which makes it easy for teachers to provide online support for students.  Moodle provides a central space on the web where students and staff can access a set of tools and resources anytime anywhere.  Moodle is:

An easy way to communicate with students and staff wherever they are:

The news form automatically emails messages to all students and staff on the course.  Forums can also be used to answer commonly asked questions – and prevent repeats, to provide a space for informal peer-to-peer student discussion or even online tutorials.  Moodle also allows teachers a design to utilize the “flipped classroom” model.

A quick way to share documents:

Moodle provides a place where teachers can easily create web pages with information about their curriculum and provide links to word documents, slides, and other resources that your students will need to access.

Easy access to relevant and useful online resources:

Teachers can use your Moodle to provide links directly to the resources that will be most useful for their students whether they are using e-library resources, skills courses, articles, journals, websites or blogs.

Online assignment handling:

Moodle can be used for student submission of assignments and projects saving time and paper.

Other advantages –

Save time and money – making resources available online can save time and money as it eliminates photocopying costs.

Control access to different areas – can make a links available so students spend less time searching and more time learning.

Use less paper – keep a central copy online so everyone can find the latest version of a course handbook, etc.

Designed to encourage collaborative learning – there are many tools that students can use for collaboration with each other e.g. forums, wiki and chat.

Other features and tools:

Course calendar – teachers use this to show important events/dates

Video and audio – many teachers find it easy to record lectures as podcasts or even arrange for videos of lectures or special events– posting these online and making it available to student’s anytime/anywhere.

 Some information obtained from:

Monday, January 21, 2013

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 January 13, 2013 proved highly productive for Dr. Smiley and me.  We traveled to China to continue the work begun by Commissioner Hesselbacher and myself in November.
First of all how do these trips to China connect to our strategic plan and the Board’s goals?

Our strategic plan states, “To measure effectively student’s individual achievement with traditional and non-traditional tools that will prepare them for 21st Century global challenges and experiences.” (Goal)

“Specify benchmarks against national, international and “aspirational” (what other districts we would like to be like) comparators.”  (Action step)

To promote active partnerships that fosters a common district vision.” (Goal)

“To establish fiscal priorities and explore community, state and federal (add international) resources sufficient to continue (improve) and expand opportunities for greater student achievement.” (Goal)

The Board goals state, “Develop a budget plan that does not rely on the unreserved, undesignated portion of the fund balance to balance the budget.”

“Measure the net gain of total enrollment to show a loss of no more than 10 students for 2012-13” (Goal)

The strategic plan pointed me in the direction of 21st global challenges, experiences and comparators which led me to look outside of Janesville to determine how to bring these experiences to Janesville.  It also encouraged me to work harder to develop partnerships with outside entities that led to the development of strategic alliances.  The Board goals led me to find new revenue streams outside the usual sources such as raising property taxes.  It also guided me to look for students outside of our own community to boost enrollment.  All of these goals can be realized in part through working with China and other countries outside of the United States.

While in China, I signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to promote partnerships with schools and universities.  MOUs were signed with Beijing Normal University, Far East China School and Number 3 Primary School, all in Beijing.  In the future pending Board approval of the strategic alliance policy I hope these partnerships develop into strategic alliances where we work together in a joint venture, which will bring a benefit to the District and/or the students in the District.  The SDJ already has many partnerships that are being continuously developed with local businesses and area schools and universities.  The MOU for student teachers signed with Beijing Normal University was fashioned after our longstanding partnership with UW-Whitewater.  Attorney David Moore reviewed all MOUs in advance. 

These partnerships will allow us to have student teachers and teachers teach in our schools.  This allows us to build our reputation in China toward future endeavors.  We also began to put into place a mechanism to bring Chinese students to our district for summer and winter academies to enrich the experiences of our children and increase revenue to our district.  In the future I hope to have International students attend the SDJ and pay tuition.

Dr Smiley and I listed over 85 tasks as a result of this trip they we will be following up on now that we are back in Janesville.  The task is daunting, but the outcome should prove very beneficial to our district. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

The China Experience

As Dr. Smiley and I travel back to Wisconsin, we have some time to reflect on this wonderful experience.  We look forward to the opportunities that await our students, staff and community.  During our eight days in China, we met with 36 people, provided professional development for over 300 teachers and visited six schools and two universities.  My January 25, 2013 blog will detail my most recent thoughts and vision regarding the Janesville International Project as well as a summary of my time in China. Posted below are some photographs detailing our journey.  

 Principals whose schools are connected to East China Normal University

 Dr. Smiley assisting with technology issues

 East China Normal University

Students preparing for English class at East Normal China University

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Save the Date—Annual Retirement Seminar

By:  Tonya Williams, Employee Relations Specialist
School District of Janesville

Each year the School District of Janesville partners with the Janesville Area Retired Educators Association (JAREA) and the Wisconsin Retired Educators Association (WREA) to provide a retirement seminar for staff who want to learn more about the retirement process.

The Annual Retirement Seminar will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2012 at Parker High School from 8:15 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

Anyone that is enrolled in the State of Wisconsin Employee Trust Fund pension is invited to attend.  I encourage staff members who are approaching age fifty or older to attend.

This seminar will feature experts in the following areas: Social Security Benefits, the Wisconsin Employee Trust Fund pension, and the School District of Janesville’s retiree health benefits.

Specific details and an agenda regarding the seminar will be sent out to staff in the near future.  In the meantime, if you have questions regarding the Annual Retirement Seminar, please contact Tonya Williams at 743-5021 or at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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. Each week, between now and the end of the school year, SDJ will focus on positive achievements from a specific school.

Jefferson Elementary School Hosts Literacy Night!

On January 8th Jefferson Elementary hosted our Literacy Night.  During the time students rotated between three different stations with their families.  They were read to by a fireman, learned about how a popular author writes and illustrates his books, and finally created a project supporting essential grade level vocabulary.  After hearing a bedtime story read by the principal, Mr. Krueger, the students could go and pick out their own book to take home.

The event was coordinated by Kindergarten Teachers Delores Olver and Elisabeth Becker in combination with our Family Resource Center Coordinator and parent Jennifer Ressler.  67 Jefferson students attended with their parents along with 10 additional staff members.  The event represents the high quality instruction and work Jefferson does with their students every day.

Rock County District Attorney visits Jefferson!

Mr. David O’Leary, Rock County District Attorney, visited Mrs. Bern’s classroom to talk about the court system and jobs related to this career area. During the second trimester students will be participating in a mock trial.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cyberabuse – A Threat to Our Children

In years past, a child left alone in his or her room was deemed by parents to be safe. Today, however, parents do not have that assurance. A child at home on the computer can fall victim to a predator. The Internet can be an asset for information gathering, but it can also be a source of danger.

A popular pastime for young people is to create personal profiles and post them on social-networking and blog sites. Your child may claim this is an innocent hobby, but some young people may be providing too much information in their profiles. Just as you safeguard your own personal information, you should teach your children to protect theirs. Instruct them to never give out personal data that would allow an online predator to track them down. If your child wants to take part in these online sites, agree to it only if the child will let you monitor what is being listed in the profile.

If the cyber world is confusing for you, there is an organization you can turn to for information and advice. Wired Kids and the WiredSafety Group ( are experts in Internet and digital safety, privacy and security – wired, wireless and mobile. Run by thousands of unpaid volunteers from all walks of life, the WiredSafety Group can respond to inquiries about actual cases of cyber crime, Internet sexual predators, cyber security, Internet privacy and all aspects of cyber law. They cover adults, children, teens, college students and senior citizens, and work one-to-one cases of cyber stalking, cyber bullying, child sexual exploitation and security attacks.

Founded by author and cyberspace attorney Ms. Parry Aftab, a leader in Internet safety, WiredSafety Group is the largest and most experienced organization of its kind in the world. “Schools are the most important link in teaching students to use the digital technologies safely and responsibly. We have never needed their help in educating parents and students more than we do now. WiredSafety is committed to sharing our expertise and our help with any school that needs it. Together we can build a safer cyber world for all our kids,” says Ms. Aftab. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Superintendent Chronicle: A Week in Review

Greetings from Shanghai, China

Dr. Smiley and I arrived in China on Thursday January 10, 2013 after 17 hours of travel including 14 hours in the air, two on the bus and 1 hour in a car.  We were met at the airport by staff of East China Normal University and they graciously paid for our hotel stay and meals while we are in their city.

Let me tell you a bit about this large metropolis. Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People's Republic of China  and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010.   It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world. 

Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea. 

Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Lujiazui skyline. It has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China. 

East China Normal University located in Shanghai is commonly referred to as ECNU and is a public research university. Established in 1951, it is the first national normal university of People's Republic of China.

Originally founded to train school teachers, the university is now an institution training researchers, professors, high-level civil servants, as well as business and political leaders. Sponsored by the national program "Project 211" and "Project 985", it is a staunch force in the nation's research in the humanities, social sciences and technology innovation.

ECNU is a national renowned university under the direct auspices of the Ministry of Education of China and sponsored by the prestigious national program "Project 211" and "Project 985". Boasting one of the most beautiful university campuses in China, ECNU is reputed as the "garden university".

The university sponsors or supervises publication of more than 20 academic journals and periodicals. The library collection exceeds 4,000,000 volumes. 19 primary or secondary schools are affiliated to the university.

The development and transformation of the country and the modernized international metropolis of Shanghai brings huge opportunities to the university for its progress. ECNU is working its way up enthusiastically and steadfastly toward the goal of establishing itself as "an internationally renowned high-level research university".

International partnerships

ECNU attaches great importance to the internationalization in its development and enjoys a wide influence and reputation in the world. The university has established strategic cooperative partnership with many world-renowned universities, such as ENS Group in France, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University in USA, Tokyo University and Kobe University in Japan, and the University of Melbourne in Australia, etc., and has been carrying out academic exchanges with over 150 universities and institutions of Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, Korea, and Russia, etc. ECNU plays host to a CIEE satellite campus, where 100 American college students study abroad each semester. It set up the study and training base for international Chinese teacher under the Office of Chinese language.

It is with this East China Normal University that the School District of Janesville is attempting to set up a strategic alliance.  

More to come…..

Parts of this overview are taken from Wikipedia.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Janesville International Project: Being Proactive in a Global Society

The School District of Janesville won three national awards last year.  One of those awards was for having one of the best Chinese language programs in the country.  Credit for instituting Mandarin Chinese in the School District of Janesville goes to a previous board that had the foresight to think futuristically beyond the confines of typical and ordinary and include a language our students will need in the future.  Some of our current board members were on that board.  Over a billion people in the world speak Mandarin Chinese, more than any other language. Mandarin Chinese is not only spoken in China, but it is the official language of Mainland China and Taiwan, and one of the official languages of Singapore and the United Nations.

Mandarin is also spoken in many of the Overseas Chinese communities throughout the world. There are an estimated 40 million Overseas Chinese, mostly in Asian countries (about 30 million), but also in the Americas (6 million), Europe (2 million), Oceania (1 million) and Africa (100,000). It is the fastest growing language in the world.   If China continues to grow and becomes the largest economy in the world, which it is predicted to become, the language will become even more prevalent.

I am more convinced now than before I left on this journey that we must continue to teach and give opportunities to our students to be competitive in the global workforce.  There are over 373 Confucius classrooms in the United States.  Confucius classrooms are run by the College Board which supports development of k-12 Chinese language programs in the U.S. by providing guidance to school districts embarking on the journey of teaching Mandarin Chinese. Partnerships are being forged all over the world.  Students are taking advantage of these opportunities in a new and revitalized way.

It is important that we help our students in the School District of Janesville to become globally competitive.  They may choose to work here in our community or they may seek employment elsewhere, but as the world continues to flatten it will be important for them to have the needed skills to not only be highly employable, but to contribute to society.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

District Life Insurance Explained

By: Tonya Williams
Employee Relations Specialist

Throughout the year I receive many inquiries regarding the District’s life insurance benefit.  Here is an overview of frequently asked questions that I receive.  This overview will help you understand the District’s life insurance benefit provided to you.

Q:        Who is eligible for District-paid life insurance?

A:        Each employee that works at least 3.25 hours per day receives a District-paid life insurance benefit.  The School District pays the full premium for a term life insurance policy covering only the employee.  The value of the coverage is the amount of the employee’s annual salary rounded up to the nearest thousand.  This coverage begins the first day of the seventh month of employment.

Q:        Is there a cash value for my life insurance?

A:        There is no cash value to your life insurance benefit.  This is a term life insurance policy, which provides coverage for a period of time.  If the insured dies during the term, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary.

Q:        Is there additional life insurance through the District that I can purchase?

A:        The District does provide a voluntary buy-up life insurance plan with face amounts up to five times your annual salary ($100,000 guaranteed issue).  Coverage is also available for a spouse and children.  Premium payments are taken as a deduction from your pay for this benefit.  This voluntary buy-up life insurance is only offered to new employees, and they must enroll within 30 days of their start date.  There is no open enrollment for this benefit; however, should this benefit be opened up for staff to enroll in, all staff will be notified.

Q:        What happens to my life insurance when I resign?

A:        If you resign from the District, you will be given the opportunity to convert your life insurance into an individual policy.  You will have 30 days from your resignation date to apply for a conversion.  The Employee Benefits Department will send you a letter explaining this process at the time of your resignation.

Q:        What happens to my life insurance when I retire?

A:        If the retiree, at the time of retirement, is covered by the District’s group life insurance plan, and meets the requirements of the group plan for continued coverage, the Board will pay the level of coverage in effect at the time of his/her retirement for the same time period as payment for the health insurance.

Q:        How do I change my beneficiaries?

A:        You can change your beneficiaries at any time, and you should do so whenever you have a change in your family.  You can find the Beneficiary Designation Form at the District website at  If you need a hard copy of a Beneficiary Designation Form, please contact me in the Employee Benefits Department.

If you have any questions regarding your life insurance benefit, please contact Tonya Williams at 743-5021 or

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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.

Toys for Tots collected at Van Buren Elementary School!

The Van Buren Student Council sponsored the annual Toys for Tots collection in December. Students and staff members donated toys from December 10th-14, 2012. All donated items were delivered to the Janesville Salvation Army on December 14th. Student Council Advisor Leslie Bauer did a great job heading up this successful project.  Over 75 toys were donated!

Edison Students Build Amazing Machines!

Seventh-graders in Edison Project Lead the Way recently tested their Rube Goldberg contraptions. The activity is an engineer's dream according to the City of Janesville Engineering Department members who volunteered to work with the students.

The purpose of the project is to connect parts using six simple machines to create a contraption that works mechanically. Rube Goldberg contraptions take a relatively simple task and make it complicated.

Students worked in teams of 3-4 to complete these projects. They brought in materials from home combined with items supplied by their teachers to create their own "machines." They can contain levers, wheels, gears, handles and more.

Groups had to determine how to build sections of the chain of events based on other groups' contraptions leading up to and following their section.  As many as 9 machines were combined linking a minimum of 54 machine actions.

In the end, students connected their device to create one large machine. Each movement triggered another until; finally, a marble triggered a mouse at the end of its run.  The mouse triggered music on the computer broadcast throughout the classroom.  Over 120 students participated in this Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) integrated activity.