Friday, June 28, 2013

The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is part of the law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010.  It represents the most significant overhaul of US Healthcare since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, and as such, is receiving a lot of attention in the news and by local school districts and other organizations. It has significant negative budget implications for the School District of Janesville, and as a result, will have economic impact on many individual employees.
Here is how it will impact the School District of Janesville.  All large employers, including the School District of Janesville, will be required to offer minimum affordable health insurance coverage to all “full-time” employees, or face monetary penalties.  Under the ACA, a “full-time” employee is “an employee who is employed an average of at least 30 hours of services per week with an employer.”  The coverage must be offered to all “full-time” employees and their dependents (but not spouses of employees).

Under the School District of Janesville’s collective bargaining agreements, the School District of Janesville offered health insurance coverage to full-time employees who were defined by the agreements as employees who work seven hours per day.  The new ACA definition of full-time employee introduces the potential requirement to offer health insurance coverage to around 280 traditionally part-time employees who did not receive health insurance coverage from the School District of Janesville under the labor contracts.  The cost of potentially having to offer health insurance to these employees is estimated around $3,000,000.  The effective date of this new coverage would be September 1, 2014.  Because of this new and additional high cost resulting from the ACA’s more expansive definition of full-time employee, the School District of Janesville is looking at options.

The first option is to reduce the hours of the staff in a way that provides the required levels of service to students but insures that certain employees are not scheduled for an amount of hours of service that would qualify them for “full-time” status under the ACA. There are specific rules that come into play that apply only to employees of an educational organization, affecting how hours of service are counted or credited during summer break. We are still examining the viability of this method, but believe it provides enough flexibility to accomplish the objective of minimizing any additional costs in health insurance benefits.

Another option is to leave the hours of work unchanged, decline to pay for the coverage, and elect to pay certain penalties under the “pay or play” provisions of the ACA. We believe the penalty cost to be prohibitive, along with the fact that the School District of Janesville would not choose to break the law. 

A third option would be outsourcing some of the School District of Janesville positions: a solution that other school districts are examining.

The fourth option, to enable the District to better meet our needs, would have the School District of Janesville keeping a limited number of positions as newly-qualified "full time" positions.  These positions would be offered insurance coverage.

We will need to make changes by September 1, 2013.  This will be discussed at the July 9, 2013 Board meeting.

There is a memo posted on the School District of Janesville’s website under the June 25, 2013 Board packet that covers this information in greater detail.

Quotes to Quote

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  - Mark Twain

“Talent is like electricity – we do not understand electricity. We use it.”    - Maya Angelou

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”   - Bernard Meltzer

“Truth may be stretched but cannot be broken. It always gets above falsehood as oil does above water.”           - Miguel de Cervantes

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he send forth a tiny ripple of hope and, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”   - Robert F. Kennedy

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”  - William James

“The main thing is to care. Care very hard, even if it is only a game you are playing.”  - Billie Jean King

“The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball - the further I am rolled the more I gain.”        - Susan B. Anthony

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Right in the School District of Janesville

Pageant of the Master – Collaboration between Craig and Lincoln Students

Craig Art teacher, Lori Barry, Lincoln's Innovative Learning Specialist, Shelley Gard, and Lincoln Art teacher, Todd Miller, partnered to complete an interactive art mural that will be housed in the Lincoln LMC for future students to enjoy. Mrs. Gard approached Mrs. Barry about involving her advanced painting students in an effort to create a more inviting atmosphere in the somewhat dated Lincoln LMC. Mrs. Barry had recently visited the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Master's and thought it would be fun to create an interactive piece where students use props and costumes to 'become' a part of the painting. 

Mrs. Barry's students had seen painting that they replicated while on a field trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Todd Miller involved his fourth graders in creating the props that will help set the stage for the mural in its home in the Lincoln LMC. Please feel free to swing by the Lincoln LMC and interact with the art!

Our friends at Local Vision has created a great short video explaining the project!  Thank you!

Monday, June 24, 2013

What's New in Summer School?

“Motor Head Tech”

 Over 20 Edison Middle School students are tearing down and rebuilding small gas engines! 

“Engineering is Elementary”

The Lincoln ROAR Summer School students have been exploring mechanical engineering by becoming Mechanical Engineers themselves.  Second through fifth graders started their engineering journey by meeting Leif, a character from Denmark, in their "Catching the Wind" storybook apart of the Engineering is Elementary program.  Each story in the program takes the students to a different country around the world, while teaching the students about the 5 step Engineering Design Process:  Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve.  The story brings the process to real-life by presenting a problem a Mechanical Engineer would solve.   The students really start to see themselves as engineers, especially when they actually solve a similar problem.  

Leif explores mechanical engineering by designing his own windmill to record the weather or vejr (Danish) for his friend.  The Lincoln ROAR students started their own adventures by exploring different materials to design a sail, leading them to think about the blades for their windmills.  The students tested their sails by setting them on a track of fishing wire while being pushed by the air of a fan and recorded the distance.  Next, they improved their design and retested the sails for more results.  The activity provides them with the background they need to become a mechanical engineer and build their own windmill, like Leif!

“Crazy Hair Day”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Four Janesville Schools Earn Wisconsin PBIS Network Awards

Four Janesville Schools have been named either Schools of Distinction or Schools of Merit by the Wisconsin PBIS Network. The four schools are: School of Distinction winner Roosevelt E.S.; and the three School of Merit winners Craig H.S., Parker H.S. and Harrison E.S. 

The Wisconsin PBIS Network is a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) funded initiative. PBIS is a proactive approach that established safer and more effective schools and is currently being implemented in approximately 47% of Wisconsin schools.  Roosevelt E.S. was one of 87 schools statewide to be recognized as a School of Distinction for the 2012-13 school year.  Craig H.S., Parker H.S. and Harrison E.S. are among 146 schools statewide to be recognized as Schools of Merit.

Schools were recognized as either Schools of Distinction or Schools of Merit based on an application process, which included team and meeting information, implementation and outcome date, as well as narrative questions and answers that described the data, systems and practices of PBIS implementation.

As a PBIS School of Distinction, Roosevelt will receive a banner and recognition at the 2013 Wisconsin PBIS Network Summer Leadership Conference on August 20, 2013, one free registration to the conference or the Behavior Education Program DVD, and a certificate.  The other three schools will receive a banner and recognition at the 2013 PBIS Network Summer Leadership Conference.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four Janesville Students Named to 2013 Cullen Government Internship Program

Four Janesville high school students have been chosen to participate in the 2013 Cullen Government Internship Program. The students will be seniors in the fall. They are:

Kei Fujisawa
Kei Fujisawa, Craig H.S., son of Jennifer Bleak and Hiroshi Fujisawa. He is working in the office of Rep. Deb Kolste.

Samantha Harrington
Samantha Harrington, Craig H.S., daughter of Julie Dravus. She is working in Sen. Dale Schultz’s office.

Jordan Peyer
Jordan Peyer, Parker H.S., son of Bill and Fran Peyer. He is working in the office of Rep. Andy Jorgensen.

Grace Stewart
Grace Stewart, Parker H.S., daughter of Bruce and Wendy Stewart. She is working in Rep. Travis Tranel’s office.

In addition to staff duties in the legislative offices, the Cullen interns will meet with several state government officials including leaders from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Legislative Reference Bureau and the Legislative Audit Bureau. A meeting has also been scheduled with former Gov. Tony Earl.

While most of the six-week program focuses on state government, the Cullen interns will also meet with city, school, county and federal government representatives including Janesville City Council members and Janesville School Superintendent Karen Schulte.

Also being scheduled are meetings with Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, ABC Supply Founder and Chairman Diane Hendricks, and St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital President Kerry Swanson.

A tentative schedule for the interns is attached. These events could change, so please contact the advisors for further information.

The Cullen Government Internship Program was created and funded by Tim and Barb Cullen, to provide Craig and Parker students with an opportunity to pursue their interests in government and politics. No school district or other public funds are utilized in the program.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ambitious Five-Point Tech Plan Outlined by National Ed. Leaders

June 13, 2013

A commission made up of prominent education leaders has released a five-point plan to help facilitate the growth of digital learning across the United States with a goal of putting digital devices into the hands of all students by 2020.

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital, or LEAD, commission is co-chaired by Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University; Jim Coulter, the co-founder of TPG Capital; Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education; and Jim Steyer, the chief executive officer of Common Sense Media. The commission was formed in March of 2012 to develop a plan to accelerate digital learning in the nation's public schools.

The release of the commission's five-point plan comes on the heels of President Barack Obama's push last week for an overhaul of the federal E-rate program.

The commission's recommendations are as follows:

1. Update the wiring of schools to support high-speed Internet with sufficient bandwidth to support 21st-century learning. To do this, the plan calls for a modernization of the federal E-rate program—something the Obama administration pushed forward last week.

2. Put digital devices in the hands of all students by 2020. To do this, the plan suggests starting with middle schools, leveraging purchasing power, calling on device manufacturers to make the devices more affordable for families, and working with state education leaders to shift from print to digital resources.

3. Accelerate the adoption of digital curricula. The commission recommends revisiting and updating multi-year adoption and purchasing processes based on textbook models, creating independent certification programs that can identify high-quality digital curricula and content, and investing more money in the K-12 marketplace to develop curricula products and foster competition.

4. Invest in technology-rich schools of innovation to serve as models for the broader swath of public schools.

5. Provide teachers with the training and support they need to implement technology effectively in their classrooms. The commission recommends using federal dollars set aside for teacher training to create a cohort of "master teachers," who could then pass their knowledge on to other teachers in their schools.

The commission claims that even five years ago this plan would be too expensive to accomplish, but with the price of technology dropping and new technological advances, such as wireless Internet, becoming more common, these are now feasible goals for the nation's schools.

Posted by Katie Ash – Education Week Technology Blogs

Friday, June 14, 2013

Year of the Dancing Snake Gala

The Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship Program (JMTOS) was created in 2008 to provide a multicultural pool of teacher candidates for the School District of Janesville.

The program addresses the growing population of students of color in the District and the gap between non-white students and non-white teachers. In the 2011-12 school year the percentage of non-white students in the District was 23 percent. For the same period, non-white teachers comprised 1.7 percent of the faculty or 13 out of 763 teachers.

The JMTOS program offers an incentive for Janesville students of color to return to the community as professional teachers and role models for all students.

Selected students receive a multi-year renewable college scholarship of up to $5,000/year for tuition, books and fees. In return the student must pursue a degree in education, obtain Wisconsin state teacher certification, and apply for a position with the School District of Janesville when they have completed their degree. The School District is not obligated to hire the student, but, if hired, the student is obligated to work for the District for a minimum of three years.

To apply for the program, the student must be a graduate of a Janesville high school or be a resident of Janesville. The student also must be of African American, Latino, Asian or Native American descent as required on school registration forms. To remain in the program, the student must be full time and hold a minimum 2.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the JMTOS program, you may donate online, or mail a check to the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St., Janesville, WI 53548.

For more information, visit the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin website.

Wednesday, June 12, 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.

Local Vision TV has produced some outstanding short videos about the incredible happenings within the School District of Janesville.  Some of these videos are listed below.  Thank you Local Vision TV!

2013 All-City Elementary Track Meet

4th and 5th grade students participated in the Annual All-City Elementary Track Meet.

SCWBA Student Build Project

Craig and Parker students have built another beautiful house!

Jackson Elementary School Students Recognized for Poetry

Eleven (11) Jackson Elementary School students' poems were chosen to be published in the Young American Poetry Digest! 

2013 Chinese Talent Show

The Janesville School District celebrates Chinese culture during a recent talent show at the Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC).

Potential Grammy Winner on Staff   

The School District of Janesville has a potential GRAMMY winner on staff. The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation have announced the quarter finalists for their first ever MUSIC EDUCATOR AWARD. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Be a Memorable Dad

Though we appreciate our fathers throughout the year, Father’s Day gives us the opportunity to thank them and show our appreciation for all they do.
Having made that important point, here are a few ideas suggested by Joe Kita, author of The Wisdom of Our Fathers:
  • Teach kids to be curious. Check out a flower, or study how a lawn mower or toaster works.
  • Be generous with your love and your time. It will help your children develop empathy and concern for other people.
  • Admit when you’re wrong.  Show your children its okay not to be perfect.
  • Show your children how to accept failure. If the kite crashes or the game won’t work, emphasize that it’s important to try again.
  • Be spontaneous. Show your children that you don’t always have to follow a plan. Let them know it’s all right to turn a different direction.
  • Emphasize good health by example. Exercise, eat well, and live a moral life.
  • Cultivate spirituality. Attend church or synagogue, or meditate on the wonders of nature. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lingua Franca ~ A Unifying Language

After spending time working in, living in and experiencing Slovakia, Mark Lencho, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and his wife, Betsy, a teacher at the School District of Janesville, have a desire to open communications between and create a partnership with Slovakian schools and the School District of Janesville. They view this partnership as strategic and beneficial for both school systems involved. 

The Lenchos see one primary focus of such a partnership being the study of language. In Slovakia, elementary school students are taught in Slovak, as well as two other foreign languages. This type of program not only exposes students to foreign languages at an early age, but also immerses them in the language. Language education continues to be an emphasis throughout the child’s schooling, and each high school graduate must be proficient in both English and one other foreign language. Exposing our students to this polylingual mindset has potential to expand their views on studying and immersing themselves in a foreign language, increase their global competency and marketability and help them become a more active global citizen. 

Slovakian high schools follow in line with many other European schools, where they utilize fast tracking. This means that when students enter high school, they will already begin training for a particular occupation. One of the two high schools that Mark and Betsy have connected with has a Spanish emphasis, where students receive their education in Spanish, building fluent speakers. Partnering with this school would provide a unique opportunity for School District of Janesville (SDJ) students. Typically, when forming a language
learning partnership, one person is a native speaker and the other is a language learner. This creates an interesting dichotomy because of the deep connection that language has to our emotions, ideas and understanding, and ability to express these thoughts and feelings. By utilizing Spanish as a lingua franca, a unifying language, SDJ and Slovakian students would be navigating language alongside one another. Spanish would provide a medium for growth in learning to communicate cross culturally. Students would be challenged to develop the ability to communicate ideas in a variety of ways, so that their language counterparts would be able to understand. This type of opportunity would challenge and stretch our students linguistically, while exposing them to a polylingual mindset. 
Although foreign exchange programs could be utilized to maximize the experience, there is potential to simply use technology. Students would be able to do a cultural exchange via the Internet.
Currently, this concept is in the beginning stages; however, it is being explored as an option for our students. The SDJ staff desire that our students would be provided an excellent, well-rounded, global education that strengthens them for their future. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Education during Vacation

It is tempting to think of summer or holiday breaks as vacation time rather than as opportunities for learning. Nothing is quite as nice as family and fun during winter holidays, and summer is a nice break from school when the weather is at its best. These breaks offer children the freedom to try new experiences outside of the often rigid structure of the school curriculum. The trick to helping your child get the most out of these breaks is planning.

For kids, new experiences can be more relaxing and refreshing than staying home. For example, you might require each child to find something to do during summer break that is a challenge. The challenge can be anything the child wants, but must be something that is different, difficult, and near the edge of the comfort zone. For example, a child might try karate, kayaking or creative writing.  

The School District of Janesville offers an incredible Summer School experience.  Summer School opportunities are still available, but classes are near or at capacity.  All students must be registered by Tuesday, June 11, 2013.  For Summer School questions, please call 608-743-5042.

Wednesday, June 5, 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. 

Nearly 170 people attended the Janesville Area Council - Parent Teacher Association 30th Annual Awards Banquet. The celebration honored JAC-PTA’s outstanding volunteers, teachers, school support staff, businesses and students with a dinner and presentation at the historic Armory, downtown Janesville, on May 23, 2013.

Several School District of Janesville students were also recognized.  Jessica May, Reflections Chairperson, Roosevelt PTA, enlightened the audience with her knowledge of and experience with the National PTA Reflections Program. Jessica explained the PTA believes that all children deserve a quality arts education and encourages students to pursue artistic expression through participation in its annual Reflections Program. The program offers preschool through grade 12 students the opportunity to create works of art for fun and recognition in six areas: dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts (which include art forms such as drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage).

Jessica May and Suzanne Guilliom, Reflections Chairperson, Jefferson PTA, then welcomed Reflections Award winners to come forward while Robin Anderson, Roosevelt PTA Treasurer, ran her PowerPoint presentation of the children’s Reflections submissions on the big screen. Eight accomplished artists were present. And the winners are...

Dance Intermediate Division:

Grand: Juliana Eno - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Award of Excellence: Kerington Sauser - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Award of Merit: Taytum Adkins - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA   

Film Intermediate Division:

Grand: Eddie May - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Outstanding Interpretation: Cecilia Harold - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Literature Intermediate Division:

Award of Excellence: Jessa Alderman - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Music Intermediate Division:

Award of Excellence: Eddie May - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Photography Intermediate Division:

Award of Merit: Owen Jenson - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Award of Merit: Julia Masterson - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

Visual Arts Primary Division:

Award of Merit: Taleah Sandoval - Jefferson Elementary School PTA

Award of Merit: Madison Borst - Jefferson Elementary School PTA

Visual Arts Intermediate Division:

Award of Merit: Autumn Tullar - Roosevelt Elementary School PTA

The arts—and the National PTA Reflections program, in particular—can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community. Please check with your school PTA regarding the 2013-2014 Reflections Program “Dream, Inspire, Believe” guidelines and rules.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Technology and Learning ~ The School District of Janesville

The magazine Technology and Learning chose to publish Janesville in an article featuring our work with Educational Technology.