Monday, September 30, 2013

Delivering Bags of Hope

The School District of Janesville (SDJ) will hold the 5th Annual Community Food Supply Event, “Delivering Bags of Hope” on Saturday, December 14, 2013. SDJ social workers compile a list of families that will receive the donated items. The goal is to supply families with two weeks of groceries. 

Staff, students, community members and businesses donated over $40,000 to the event last year. Local businesses donated food products, the distribution site and materials to the drive.

Last year, the generosity of our community allowed us to distribute groceries to over 350 families and 50 senior citizens across the community. The School District of Janesville is hopeful to serve as many families and senior citizens this year.

To be included in this year’s donation, please submit cash or check only by Friday, November 22, 2013.

Checks may be made out to the School District of Janesville and delivered to any school office or the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville, WI 53548, care of Denise Jensen.

Receipts will be given so contributors may claim donations on their taxes.

Please call 608-743-5055 with questions.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Congratulations from BoE President Ardrey

Janesville Board of Education President Greg Ardrey along with Superintendent Schulte spoke to School District of Janesville staff (live on television and over the Internet) on Tuesday morning (9/24/13).  Board Commissioners and District Administration wanted to congratulate all staff and recognize their incredible efforts related to student achievement and the recently released state report cards.  President Ardrey’s statement can be seen below:

Good morning everyone,

 It is a great day for the School District of Janesville.

I am delighted to participate in this recognition/celebration day.  I say that as president and as a proud school board member, parent and spouse.

On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations and thank you for your efforts that have produced the excellent scorecard results as a district and as individual schools.

I believe that our schools are gems and a marvelous community asset.  Yes, we have had some recent struggles and there are more to overcome.  We have what it takes – especially our talented faculty and staff – to help our students achieve far greater academic excellence and lead the School District of Janesville to be the very best in the state.

I want to pause a moment to recognize Superintendent Dr. Karen Schulte, I must say that she has honored President Truman’s desk sign “The buck stops here”.  Dr. Schulte has led the district during quite a tumultuous time with dignity and excellence while taking on the responsibility to drive academic improvements as laid out in the board’s goals.

Dr. Schulte, I applaud your efforts and the efforts of each and every staff member.

Thank You.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Affordable Care Act Mandates Employer Notice of Coverage Options to Employees by October 1, 2013

A message from the Human Services Department
The Affordable Care Act mandates that employers provide a notice to employees with information regarding their health insurance coverage options including those available in the Marketplace, by October 1, 2013. As an employee of the School District of Janesville you will be receiving a postcard providing information as to how you can access this notice through the School District of Janesville website.  In addition to having the notice available on the website, we have provided that notice in full text for you here.  Other important notifications are also available on the School District of Janesville under the tab "For Staff"/ 13-14 Voluntary/Involuntary Benefits Information.  
These notices include:
  • ACA Notice of Marketplace Coverage
  • Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice
  • Premium Assistance under Medicaid Notice 
  • Summary of Benefits and Coverage
  • New Hire COBRA Notices 

Wednesday, September 25, 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.

The Tree symbolizes and honors the dedication of district staff for 30, 35, and 40 years of service.   Each recipient has a leaf with their name and years of service on the tree.  Upon retirement from our district, their leaf will be presented to them at the district-wide retirement reception as a gift.  

The inscription on the tree reads as follows, "The Board of Education is pleased to recognize those School District of Janesville employees for 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service.  This tree symbolizes their commitment to the educational growth and development of our students.  We acknowledge the contributions of these staff members with this expression of grateful appreciation."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Welcome to the Future: School District of Janesville Announces Infinite Campus

New student information system including
Gradebook and Parent Portal for Fall, 2014

By Dr. Robert Smiley, Chief Information Officer

Student Information Systems (SIS) are the backbone of all schools; they are the software used to track student course schedules, grades and gradebooks, attendance and discipline, class rosters and registrations, health records, parent information.  In other words, a SIS stores the data for all aspects of a student’s academic record. 

Even through a traditional lens, the list of what these systems tracked was exhaustive.  In today’s contemporary school environments, the list of what a Student Information System tracks extends further and becomes increasingly complex.  For example, today’s gradebooks are more than A-B-C; they must include State Standards and Common Core goals.  The family record is not just a traditional tree with a mother and father, but also a bush with step parents, grandparents, foster parents, guardians, and single-gender parents. 

This need for contemporary data systems extends to PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Services) and RtI (Response to Intervention) data as well.  Successful implementation of both is required, and demand solid data systems.   As if this were not enough, the security features of a complex environment require a sophisticated software to carefully manage and control who can access what data.

A strong system has been shown to advance the use of data to guide instruction, while a poorly designed system will hold back achievement gains.


We presently have two systems that are not contemporary and do not share data.  To complicate and make matters worse, we have inefficient data practices that have resulted from the use of these two systems.  For example, our enrollment process is almost all paper, requiring a family with two or three children more than an hour to complete all the paperwork.   IEP Data are also almost all in paper forms.

Discipline referrals are all paper based, and the data have to be double entered into two completely separate and distinct systems.  In addition, our student fee collection process is not efficient.  There are many more examples of limits, inefficiencies, and double/triple data entry with these archaic systems.

State of Wisconsin RFP Process:

The State of Wisconsin completed an extensive RFP (Request for Proposal) process last year, July 10, 2012.  The focus of this was to evaluate competing Student Information Systems, searching for the one with the richest feature set, lowest cost, and greatest vision.  The work of the State was reviewed by the law firm of DeWitt, Ross, and Stevens, and was found to be “appropriately geared to afford all vendors an equal opportunity to compete.”  The review of the State’s process went on, “There was no bias in favor or against any bidder.  The RFP was drafted to identify the best possible vendor for the job at the best possible price.” 


The School District of Janesville needs a modern and contemporary Student Information System (SIS).  With the advancement of mobile devices, including iPads, Tablets, Smartphone’s, Chrombooks, etc., we need not only a contemporary data solution, but a solution that operates on multiple devices with varying screen sizes and operating systems. 

We cannot wait any longer on PBIS and RtI data, and it’s critical that these data be available to teachers from within the gradebook.  We cannot continue to double and triple enter data into archaic systems.  We cannot continue to be held back by inefficient paper systems for enrollment and registration.  

Cost Benefit:

By leveraging the State’s RFP process, and moving to a contemporary software solution, we are able to (1) move to a single solution, (2) address our unmet and outstanding data needs, (3) and lower our annual costs by 20%. 


We have a target “Go Live” date of July 1, 2014.  For the 2013-2014 school year, we will utilize our existing software for the entire year, while training staff, converting data, and establishing new processes in the new system. In order to be ready for fall 2014, we need to begin soon. The first target we need to meet is in October to have the course master ready for Spring Enrollment.   

While we gain significant efficiencies, and will no longer use paper systems, or separate Excel spreadsheets to record data, there will be a learning curve for all staff.  We will use a just-in-time training professional development model, focusing on different groups as they need the information.  This includes everyone who has anything to do with student data records: Building Secretaries (i.e.: Calendars), Guidance Counselors (i.e.: schedules), Special Education Staff (i.e.: IEPs), and Teaching Staff (i.e.: gradebooks). 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Janesville Board of Education's OPEB Workshop

Janesville Board of Education Commissioners will be participating in a posted workshop this evening (6:00 p.m. at the Educational Services Center) regarding the review and development of Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).  The purpose of the meeting is to review and create scenarios that will be used to determine costs related to OPEB.  Once created, the scenarios will be sent to Key Benefits, the district’s employee benefits consulting firm.

What is OPEB?

OPEB is post-employment benefits that an employee will begin to receive at the start of retirement. This does not include pension benefits paid to the retired employee. Other post-employment benefits that a retiree can be compensated for are life insurance premiums, healthcare premiums and deferred-compensation arrangements.

The meeting is open to the public, but audience questions or comments will not be accepted.  No action will be taken at this evening’s workshop.  Future workshops will be scheduled soon. 

The workshop can be viewed “live” this evening on Charter Cable Channel 96 or on the internet at the following address:

If viewing on the internet, please allow 3 minutes for the “live” feed to begin.

The workshop will also be available “on-demand” 24/7 after the meeting at the following internet address:

Questions or comments can be sent to

Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping Teens Safe During Homecoming

Going to the homecoming dance is an exciting experience for high school students, but many parents worry about their teens’ safety at such events. You might be concerned about the possibility of underage drinking, drugs, teen drivers, drunk driving and peer pressure. Talk to teens before the big day and make sure they have the tools they need to have a safe and fun homecoming!

Underage Drinking

When talking to your teens about drinking; explain that you trust them, but peer pressure can play a role in what they ultimately decide to do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underage drinking accounts for nearly 4500 teen deaths each year. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of underage drinking, as well as the laws. Drinking can impair their judgment and lead to other bad decisions—make sure your teen knows the consequences.

Peer Pressure

You may be worrying about how your teens will deal with peer pressure, so talk to them beforehand to make sure they know how to say no. If they are going with a date to the homecoming dance, arrange to meet the date and their parents prior to the dance. Explain to your teens that they should have self-respect and not give in to something just because others are. Set out a plan with your teens about where they are allowed to go. If you allow them to go to parties after the dance, make sure you get the details: where it’s located, who is hosting it, whether it is adult-supervised, etc., and get their contact information.

Teen Drivers

Statistics from the CDC show that teen drivers age 16-19 are four times as likely as adult drivers to crash. If your teens are driving, and taking passengers, be sure they are comfortable doing so. Make sure they wear seat belts and instruct all of their passengers to do the same. If your teens are riding with another person, the best way for them to protect themselves is to wear seat belts and make sure their driver is not drinking. 


As with underage drinking, your teens may be asked or pressured to try drugs during homecoming. Give them the tools they need to make a good decision. Explain the dangers of drugs and tell them that it is okay to say no.

Talking with teens beforehand can set your mind at ease while they enjoy this exciting time of their lives. Homecoming can be a fun and special experience, but make sure your teens are prepared for anything that may come their way. 

Information for this blog was obtained from:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Teaming Up for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences can be a win-win situation for everyone – the child, the parents and the school. The parents are the experts on knowing their child. The teacher is the expert on knowing the child’s educational needs. The child is often the expert on playing parent and teacher against each other, unless school and home are working together.  When home and school cooperated, the child realizes that he or she is up against an organized front. Then he or she stops “pushing buttons” and begins to move toward achievement.

To meet a child’s educational needs, parents and teachers need to share specific information. This shared information enables the teacher and parents to work together to solve problems and increase students’ interest in learning.

Information parents should share with the teacher regarding their child:

  • Interests, talents, special needs, discipline techniques that work, etc.
  • Positive feedback about what the child likes about school.
  • Feedback about the child’s concerns, disabilities, or weak points.
  • The parents’ own concerns.
  • Family information that may be affecting the child’s learning experiences.

Information teachers should share with parents:

  • A realistic look at the child’s abilities and short-comings.
  • Areas where the teacher’s expectations are not being met.
  • Suggestions for help at home.
  • A plan to bring teachers, parents, and students together on the same playing field.
  • Concerns regarding the student’s physical/mental health, disabilities, or roadblocks.

When parents and teachers team up, the child benefits. Parents and teachers should share as much information as possible so they can be more effective in their respective roles.

Wednesday, September 18, 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.

Janesville Principal Presents at Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Conference

Harrison Elementary School Principal Jessica Grandt presented as an exemplar at a break-out session on Culturally Responsive PBIS practices at the statewide PBIS conference that was held in Wisconsin Dells in August. Harrison’s PBIS team also met at the beginning of August to plan professional development for Harrison staff.

Information Technology Team Receives Praise from Monroe Elementary School

Chief Information Officer Dr. Robert Smiley and his team did a fantastic job with the technology walk through at Monroe. Monroe was able to button up some small things that needed attention and will increase their ability to raise student achievement.

Van Buren Elementary School Summer School Students and Staff take a “World Voyage”

Van Buren Elementary School Summer School staff created an amazing World Voyage for their student travelers.  Students traveled through Reading, Math, Art, PE and technology as they filled their passports with new countries each week.  This was a wonderful experience for students to learn about other cultures, traditions, education, food and events from other countries. 

Wilson Elementary School Students Learn “Cool-Tool” Lessons

Wilson Elementary School teachers have prepared Cool-Tool Lessons to teach for the month of September.  Cool-Tool Lessons focus on specifically teaching behaviors staff members have identified as being areas of concern.  Staff specifically teaches the expected behaviors so students understand how to act/react to different situations.  During the month of September, students at Wilson Elementary will be taught the following:

  • How to Line Up Appropriately
  • Voice Volume Expectations For Different Situations
  • How to Get Involved Appropriately During Play
  • Home versus School Rules
  • Using Kind Words

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The School District of Janesville “Exceeds Expectations”

The School District of Janesville (SDJ) scored in the Exceeds Expectations category with a 74.8 for the Overall Accountability Score on the first State of Wisconsin District Report Card. Based on how well schools perform in priority areas, schools and districts will receive an accountability score on a 0-100 scale and its associated accountability rating.  The district report card is calculated for the district as a whole. 

The 2012-2013 School Report Cards are also very encouraging.  Two SDJ schools Met Expectations, fourteen Exceeded Expectations, and one Significantly Exceeded Expectations.  This was Harrison Elementary School’s second year scoring in the Significantly Exceeds Expectations category, the highest distinction available.  The report cards signal a new era of school accountability that honors the complex work of schools and focuses on making sure students graduate ready for college and career.

The report cards were made public on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. School report cards place an important value on integrating information; they are used to tell the public the progress schools are making and gives direction to schools about ways they can improve student learning.  In short, the new system is designed to be both informative and useful. 

Each year, on the report cards, schools receive one of five accountability ratings.  These ratings are based on a score from these four priority areas:  Student Achievement, Student Growth, Closing Gaps and On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness.

Student Achievement
Student Achievement is calculated using reading and mathematics data related to state assessments

The district scored above the State in Student Achievement with the distinction of Meets Expectations.   Every SDJ school improved their score in this area from 2011-12 to 2012-13.  Harrison scored in the Significantly Exceeds Expectation category, the first school in Janesville to achieve this distinction.

Student Growth
Student Growth is measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement

The School District of Janesville’s strongest priority area was in the student growth category.  The district scored 10.6 points above the state average. All elementary schools and two middle schools were above the state average.  Jackson, Roosevelt, Van Buren, and Washington’s scores were 18 to 20 points above the state average, placing them in the Significantly Exceeds Expectations rating category.  This was the second year for Roosevelt achieving at this level.  Student growth has been an important goal for the School District of Janesville, especially in reading and math. 

Closing Gaps
Closing Gaps refers to performance between specific students groups (comparing English Language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic groups with their peers).

SDJ also exceeded expectations in the priority area Closing Gaps.  All schools met or exceeded expectations in this priority area, with the exception of Jefferson which was just 0.2 percentage points from reaching Meets Expectations.  Jackson was given the rating category of Significantly Exceeds Expectations

On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness

On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness uses reliable predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary success.

All Janesville schools met or exceeded expectations in this priority area.  The district along with sixteen schools scored in the Significantly Exceeds Expectations rating category.  Jackson and Wilson both scored in the Exceeds Expectations category.  The calculation for this area includes student attendance rates, third grade reading, eighth grade math, graduation rate, and ACT participation and performance.   
Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment credits the successful district report card results with improved revisions to the curriculum and its implementation, frequent attention to measuring student learning to ensure students are mastering the curriculum, and improved effort on the part of students to value their learning.  In addition, high quality instruction by the teaching staff, and ongoing support and feedback from building principals are other critical components to this year’s success. 

Finally, efforts by the Student Services staff to work with homes and emphasize the benefits of regular school attendance and increasing student confidence related to school is another strategic response that helps promote student achievement in the district.

Monday, September 16, 2013

District and School Report Cards Scheduled to be Released

District and School Report Cards are scheduled to be released to the public on September 17, 2013 for the 2012-2013 school year.

Beginning in 201112, a comprehensive accountability index replaced the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) system. The index approach uses multiple measures and classifies schools along a rating continuum. The ratings determine the level of support a school receives, ranging from rewards and recognition for high performing schools to state intervention for the lowest performing schools in the state. Accountability Determinations (the index score and rating) will be reported annually in the School Report Card.

Accountability report cards include outcomes in four priority areas:

·         Student Achievement measures the level of knowledge and skills among students in the school, compared to state and national standards. It includes a composite of reading and mathematics performance by the “all students” group in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) for all tested grades in the school.

·         Student Growth describes how much student knowledge of reading and mathematics in the school changes from year to year. It uses a point system that gives positive credit for students progressing toward higher performance levels, and negative credit for students declining below proficiency. This area focuses not on attainment, but the pace of improvement in student performance, no matter where students begin. All improvement is treated as a positive. Schools with high performance and little room to grow are not penalized.

·         Closing Gaps shows how the performance of student groups experiencing statewide gaps in achievement and graduation is improving in the school. It recognizes the importance of having all students improve, while focusing on the need to close gaps by lifting lower-performing groups. Specific race/ethnicity groups, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners are compared against their complementary groups.

·         On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness indicates the success of students in the school in achieving educational milestones that predict postsecondary success. It includes the graduation rate for schools that graduate students, or the attendance rate for other schools. It also includes measures of third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics achievement, and ACT participation and performance, as applicable to the school.

Accountability scores are provided for each priority area. Student Engagement Indicators are measures outside the four priority areas that affect student success and the soundness of the index. Each indicator has a goal, and schools that fail to meet that goal receive a point deduction from their overall score. Goals were set by looking at statewide data and establishing thresholds that identify schools contributing the most to lowering Wisconsin’s overall performance in the areas below.

1.      Test Participation (minimum 95%) - The calculation is based on three years of data. The lowest group rate of all students and subgroups is used for this indicator.

2.      Absenteeism (below 13%) - Related to attendance, the absenteeism rate is the percentage of the school’s students whose attendance rate is 84% and below.

3.      Dropout Rates (below 6%)

Schools not meeting the threshold for any Student Engagement Indicator will have points deducted from their index score. For Test Participation, if the rate is less than 95 percent, but at least 85 percent, five points are deducted from the school’s overall score; for rates less than 85 percent, 10 points are deducted. If the absenteeism rate in the school is 13 percent or more, 5 points are deducted from its score. The goal for every middle and high school is to have a dropout rate of less than 6 percent. If the school does not meet that goal, 5 points are deducted from its score. The resulting overall accountability score will determine the Accountability Rating a school receives:

Rating Category
Score Range
Significantly Exceeds Expectations
Exceeds Expectations
Meets Expectations
Meets Few Expectations
Fails to Meet Expectations

Check back tomorrow for School District of Janesville results!

For more information, please visit:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wake Up and Be Awesome!

Check out this video posted on YouTube!  It is a must see!  The theme revolves around the premise that we are all teachers AND students.  Think about the following questions while viewing:

  1. WHAT are you teaching the world?
  2. WHO are you learning from?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Did You Know?

On September 10, 2013, the Janesville Board of Education approved the Janesville International Education Program (JIEP) which is designed to promote:
  1. Student exchanges
  2. Educator exchanges
  3. Summer institutes
  4. Winter institutes
  5. Revenue generating mechanisms
  6. Tuition paying students  
The following video was shown at the beginning of the JIEP presentation (on Tuesday evening).  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When the Going Gets Tough....SDJ Staff Steps Up!

Dear Staff,

The weather this week has not made it easy to motivate our students.  I truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication.  The physical environment was not conducive to learning due to the heat in many buildings, but as always, our dedicated staff came through for our students. Whether one's responsibility is administrating, supervising, teaching, preparing lunches, maintaining a building, or managing an office, students continue to be our number one priority, and for that, I thank you!

We can be proud of what we achieve in the School District of Janesville — in our classrooms, in our offices, and on our playing fields and stages—but our achievements are not due to complacency and satisfaction with the status quo. Our district is what it is because a staff of dedicated, aspiring men and women have a common goal—to do what is best for students—and are always looking for ways to achieve that goal. That staff is you!

Great work!

Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Multicultural Scholarship Fundraiser Coming in November

The fourth annual dinner-dance in support of the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship (JMTOS) is scheduled for Saturday, November 2, 2013.  It will be held from 5:30-10:30 p.m. at the Janesville Country Club, 2615 W. Memorial Drive.
The “Year of the Dancing Snake Gala” will feature a combined South American and Asian theme.  After-dinner music will be provided by Madisalsa, an 11-member Latin music ensemble based in Madison returning to the JMTOS gala for their third year.  Before dinner music features local performers Steve Pease Trio, Chris Kohn, and Emerald City.
The event also includes a silent auction featuring Spanish lessons, tennis lessons, Badger basketball tickets and a catered Middle Eastern brunch among other items.
The JMTOS scholarship program, offered through the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, offers renewable college scholarships to Janesville students of color pursuing a career in education.  Upon attaining a Wisconsin teaching certificate, recipients agree to apply for a position with the School District of Janesville.
Six students are expected to be in the program in the fall of 2013.   Two will graduate in December.  Several of the current students will speak at the benefit.
Tickets to the “Year of the Dancing Snake Gala” are $50 per person, $45 if purchased before October 1.  A portion of each ticket is tax deductible.
For reservations, contact Lannie at the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, (608) 758-0883 or  For further information, contact Sue Conley, (608) 758-0883.

Monday, September 9, 2013

From Mt. Lincoln to Lincoln Elementary School: A Principals Journey to Excellence

Lincoln Elementary School Principal Shawn Galvin conquered Mt. Lincoln in Colorado to film a motivational message to Lincoln staff.  Incredible!