Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The School District of Janesville Continues the Journey to Excellence!


The SDJ Board of Education met last evening (7/23/2013) at the Educational Services Center and approved eight addition staffing positions for the 2013-2014 school year after reviewing the Five Year Staffing Forecast.

Two years ago, the School District of Janesville (SDJ) reduced over 50 positions in an attempt to assist with budgetary constraints.

The Five Year Forecast is intended to be reflective of the current needs of the district in addition to the anticipated needs of the district over a five-year period of time. Over 50 positions were reduced to assist with budgetary constraints. Reducing positions in 2011 created some shortcomings and that is why SDJ provided the Five Year Forecast at this time.

The Forecast aligns with the following Board of Education goals:  

ServiceRaising parent satisfaction
QualityRaising student achievement
PeopleRaising staff satisfaction
FinanceDeveloping a budget plan.

The School District of Janesville utilized the Professional Learning Community concept. This concept is basically shared support services from within our district. These services are shared among schools.

The support services directly impact and affect the classroom teacher, principal and our student’s families. The positions recommended align with Board approved goals and the Strategic Plan for the district.

Since the introduction of the Five Year Forecast on April 5, 2013, the plan has changed slightly. This is a result of continual evaluation of needs versus wants. Year one is SDJ’s first priority for additional support services.

Years two through five would be considered SDJ’s second priority. These years may be adjusted as we continue to monitor, review and re-evaluate the needs within departments and schools. 

The following positions were recommended by Administration for the 2013-2014 school year:

P4J Program Coordinator

Currently there are 45 Preschool 4 Janesville (P4J) classrooms throughout the district located in 19 different sites. There are approximately 636 children enrolled in this early learning program. P4J is in its 5th year of programming. This preschool program is aligned to the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. It is comprehensive because it provides 437 hours of instruction in addition to 87 hours of parent involvement opportunities.

A full time position is critical in growing the program, developing the program and meeting DPI and parent expectations. The program provides services to 85% of our incoming kindergarten students. This prepares them well and establishes a sound foundation leading towards higher student success. The current model of a principal responsible for an additional program inhibits the growth opportunities for the P4J program, as well as the growth for the school for which they are the instructional leader. It is imperative that the needs of building staff, students and parents be met in an effective manner conducive to the districts expectations and vision. 

The BOE approved this position with a vote of 7-1.  Current Jackson Elementary School Principal Kristen Moisson will now be exclusively the Jackson Elementary School Principal. 

Academic Learning Coach

Currently, Parker and Craig high schools have one Academic Learning Coach (ALC) for both schools. This position serves about 3000 students for Math and Reading. Contrast this to the three Middle Schools that have one ALC per school. The approval for this position would allow for one ALC to provide services in the areas of Math/Science and the other to concentrate efforts of Reading/Social Studies. New Standards in Science are coming and SDJ anticipates a higher amount of rigor. The district will continue to monitor Math Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA) data, which indicates an area for improvement. This position would assist in improving instruction that supports stronger CBA’s and ACT assessment scores. It also would assist with other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives in the district.

The BOE approved this position with a vote of 7-1.

Principal of Rock River Charter School/ Coordinator of Charter Schools Development

This position would have the responsibility of the principal at RRCS for supervision and evaluations. In addition, there is a need to provide a comprehensive plan to develop and grow the remaining Charter Schools. Each of these schools has their own Board and this individual would need to work collectively with each Board.

There is much potential in growing the International component of the Janesville Virtual Academy (JVA) so the district can provide English, SAT/ACT assessments to children all over the world using technology. SDJ wants a growth plan to promote expansion and revenue as well as market the district as the “Preferred Vendor” of choice.

The projected charter school enrollment numbers for the 201314 school year are:

RRCS = 154 students
TAGOS = 72 students
Virtual Academy = 80 students (estimated)
Janesville Academy for International Studies = included in the High school numbers.

The BOE approved this position with a vote of 7-1.

Business Office Clerk

The Business Office lost over 25% of their secretary and clerk staff (1.5 out of 5.5) due to budget cuts. There have not been any subsequent decreases in accounts payable, fixed assets, cash management, student transportation, purchasing, erate or custodial scheduling. The remaining staff has had to reprioritize their workloads to assure all key items are being performed. The addition of one clerical staff would assist with the loss of the 1.5 staff reduced and therefore improve internal accounting controls and add back completeness to all processes performed in the department.

The BOE approved this position with a vote of  7-1.

Student Services Specialist

Dr. Cargile requested an additional fulltime position to serve within the Southside PLC (Jackson, Van Buren, Lincoln, Wilson and Edison) due to the high social, emotional and behavior needs building leaders are facing on the south side. Four of the five south side schools have a 50% or higher rate of children living in low-income homes. As of February 28, 2013, there have been 397 homeless youth identified district wide. Unfortunately, the Southside PLC serves 151 of the 397 identified homeless youth during the 20122013 school year.

Historical data shows there has always been a high need of Student Services support needed on the south side. Dr. Cargile realizes staff in those buildings have fully supported students, but also understands the needs of children in all south side buildings continue to rise and would like to support building leaders and staff by increasing Student Services staff in those buildings.

The BOE approved the this position with a vote of 7-1.

Special Education Program Support Teacher

One fulltime replacement program support teacher is needed for the office of special education. The past program support position was not replaced when the person was hired as an academic learning coach. The position requires a great deal of knowledge in Special Education compliance and Special Education law. The job duties also include the coordination of Response to Intervention and the new SLD (Specific Learning Disabilities) Rule. The position has provided a great deal of academic and behavioral support to the special education teaching staff and building administration. There is currently only two program support staff to
cover all academic and behavioral support for the district. Additionally, they are included in IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting attendance on special cases. Building staff and administration rely heavily on the knowledge and expertise of the Program Support Teacher.

Last year there were four new mandates from the state for the special education office to comply with and many of those mandates continue to require further staff training and monitoring. During the 201314 school year, the Special Education Department will be audited by the state.

The BOE approved this position with a vote of 7-1.

Youth Advocates

The SDJ has been cited by the DPI for two years in a row for concerns with the Special Education Indicators that address disproportionality (the number of black students being identified for special education services).

The district has been cited in the past as well. The school district has done a very good job with hiring the youth advocates that work the K12 programs. However, much of the work has been done at the high school level and has shown success at that level. One area of needed improvement is to work on replicating the positive programs at the high school level and bringing them closer to the students at the middle and elementary school level. The youth advocates will also be used to collect the success of the programs for further adjustments to the disproportionality plan. The youth advocates work very closely with the families of students who have significant atrisk challenges with abuse, drugs, mental illness and other challenges that interrupt the student’s ability to focus on school and education. They are frequently in the family homes in the evening and on weekends.

The BOE approved hiring (2) Youth Advocates with a vote of 7-1.

Funding for Positions:

At this point in the 20132014 Budget preparation process, it appears that the cost reductions resulting from the overall reduction in salary and benefit costs of staff who have retired or resigned after the 20122013 fiscal year, will be more than enough to cover the costs of the eight positions noted.

Summary:

In 2011, over 50 positions were reduced as a result of budgetary issues. The School District of Janesville continues to seek out input from many stakeholders with regards to reviewing and evaluating current non-student enrollment staffing needs. The district will continue to provide the best service to staff and parents, as well as providing the best in instructional practices for our students.

The Five Year Forecast will be reviewed and reflected upon on a regular basis.

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