Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Greetings

Holiday Greetings from Our Home to Yours,

The holidays are a joyous time for many reasons; celebrating with family, building traditions, and spreading holiday cheer to those in need. As Superintendent of this great district, I want to take a moment to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication this past year, and your enthusiasm and excitement for next year.

Our mission states:  To serve our community by educating every child; this cannot be accomplished without each of you.  I appreciate all of you and what you do in the lives of our students each and every day.
Take time to relax and enjoy family during the holidays.  You deserve it!

Karen Schulte, Superintendent

Employee Engagement Survey

A valuable tool in our continuing march toward academic excellence is the ability to determine employee engagement. We want every employee in the SDJ, who is willing to join us in that march, to feel valued, contribute to our goals and have the tools necessary to succeed.

The Employee Engagement Survey is the most significant indicator of employee satisfaction. We administer the survey two times per year and we now have five years of data.

While we value the survey, we have listened to your comments regarding changes you would like to make, including eliminating some of the redundancy in the questions.  We are currently collecting and reviewing the final comment sheets from each school and department. 

For comparison purposes 14 core questions will remain the same.  We are asking all employees for recommendations on whether to modify or eliminate existing non-core questions or introduce new questions. If you haven’t been asked your opinion, please view the attached 14 core questions that we will continue to use and the 39 questions from the original survey.  Please give your supervisor any changes you would like to see before the end of the day on Friday, December 20, 2013. 

I deeply care about our employees and your comments and concerns. I want you all to be involved in the Employee Engagement Survey.

As principals and supervisors connect with you for recommendations regarding the survey, we will take some time to make sure the survey better reflects your suggestions. This will take some time; therefore, our traditional survey time of December has been pushed back to late January or early February. We plan to administer the second survey this school year at the traditional time in May.

Naturally, we would like to see a “strongly agree” response on every question. However, we will consider every response from every employee, including those who “strongly disagree.”  For example, if we are not providing materials and supplies needed to do your job, we want to know. I can assure you we will follow up and do everything possible to get you those materials and supplies.

The Employee Engagement Survey is a key component in our continuing journey to excellence.  Thank you for your contribution in creating the 2013-14 Employee Engagement Survey.

Here is the link to the survey 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Affordable Care Act

What Does The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Mean To Me?
This seems to be the question of the day and understandably so. Have you asked yourself one of these questions lately?
Ø  Why do we need to do anything about the ACA?  What is the impact on our District?
Ø  How will the Affordable Care Act affect me on my job?
Ø  What is the timeline that will take place before it is fully implemented?
Ø  How will I be notified of the changes?
Ø  What has the District done to prepare for this change?
Ø  Are we the only organization that has to do something with the ACA?

I am certain  there are other questions that you may have, but these are the questions we hear the most. Understanding the Affordable Care Act can be a confusing task for a topic that is so important.

The information provided in this communication will shed some light on the subject and how it may directly affect you.  Let’s begin by answering the questions listed above.

Why do we need to do anything about this? What is the impact for our District?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by the President on March 23, 2010. The purpose of the ACA is to increase the affordability and rate of health insurance coverage for all Americans.

The impact is that under the ACA provisions,  SDJ employees  who work thirty or more hours per week must be offered Board sponsored Health Benefits.  Currently Board sponsored Health Benefits are offered to those employees working thirty-five to forty hours per week. Employees currently working thirty to thirty-five hours per week can purchase the District’s Health Benefits by Wisconsin Law, but premiums are paid in full by the employee.

How will the Affordable Care Act affect me on my job?

Most District employees are not significantly affected by the Affordable Care Act because they are either hired in a full time position on a regular basis (35+ hours per week) or hired in a part time position on a regular basis (under 30 hours per week).  Positions that work variable hours (between 30 and 35 hours) are the positions subject to the Affordable Care Act provisions. 

The Administrative staff continues to work to provide an analysis of how many employees are  defined by the ACA to be full time and to provide scheduling and work hour recommendations to be put in place by July 1, 2014.

What is the timeline that will take place before it is fully implemented?

Timeline of the ACA implementation is as follows:
Ø  January through March 2014: Ongoing updates on the ACA plan and recommendations brought to the Personnel, Policy, and Curriculum Committee and Finance Committee.
Ø  April 2014:  Final ACA plan recommendation brought to the Board
Ø  May 2014:  Staff notified of assignments for 2014-2015 based on ACA plan
Ø  July 2014: ACA staff assignments go into place

How will I be notified of the changes?

SDJ staff affected by ACA will be notified by mail of any schedule changes to their work hours, prior to the fiscal year July 1, 2014.

What has the District done to prepare for this change?

The District has conducted an analysis of our variable employees and is currently preparing to update that data to reflect the 2013-2014 school year staff.  This analysis will provide an accurate picture of those positions that may qualify for insurance benefits under ACA rules.

 The District Administration continues to stay abreast of any changes to the Affordable Care Act and responds to those changes as needed.  Updates to the ACA regulations are provided to the Board of Education as well as to the employees through communications such as blogs and emails. 

The District Administration collaborates with principals on an on-going basis in filling positions in such a way that provides quality service but does not increase the number of variable employees

Are we the only organization that has to do this?

No, other Districts, municipalities, and other employers throughout the state of Wisconsin are also challenged with meeting the deadlines and the provisions of the ACA. This is not unique to the  School District of Janesville.

More to come………

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Janesville School District Receives Grant

Congratulations to the School District of Janesville for being awarded $75,000.00 from the Wisconsin Technology Initiative for SmartBoards.             

The School District of Janesville has received notice of a $75,000.00 grant from the Wisconsin Technology Initiative for the purpose of purchasing SmartBoards, projectors, and speakers which will be installed at both Craig and Parker High Schools.   This SmartBoard technology equipment will be installed in the high schools in the World Language and Social Studies classrooms, making it possible to significantly increase technology use in those classrooms. 
This is the sixth consecutive year the district has been funded by the WTI foundation to purchase SmartBoards.  Dr. Robert Smiley, CIO, said, “We are proud of our partnership with WTI to bring the best of Educational Technology to the students in Janesville.  It has been a long, on-going partnership that we highly value, and hope to have for many years to come.  The grant has made so many things possible.” 

This $75,000.00 grant brings the total to $450,000.00 that the WTI has invested in the School District of Janesville, not including $50,000.00 for Professional Development workshops, bringing the total to $500,000.00 over a six year period. Our teachers have taken advantage of the high-quality Professional Development, and demonstrate daily how they engage and motivate students using Interactive White Boards.  

 John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge established the Wisconsin Technology Initiative in 2010, to improve academic achievement by providing funding for the advancement of instructional technology in learning environments throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Technology Initiative is a continuation of the Morgridges’ commitment to their home state of Wisconsin and to higher education.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A  HUGE Thank You!

The School District of Janesville would like to thank everyone for your help with our “Bags of Hope” event which was held this past Saturday. Whichever part you played, we are so thankful and grateful.

A special thanks to our sponsors:

·         QPS Employment Group
·         Control Solutions Inc.
·         Nowlan & Mouat LLP                                                            
·         Amp Electric, Inc.
·         BANDT Communications
·         City of Janesville
·         Woodman’s Markets
·         Blackhawk Community Credit Union Foundation
·         Landair
·         LP Tree Service
·         School District of Janesville

Because of each of you we were able to make the day of 350 families and 50 seniors, and we were able to raise over $40,000 this year. Raising this amount allowed us to spread holiday cheer to families that are in need. What a great feeling!

The dedication and sacrifice each of you made braving the cold weather to make this event a success was simply AMAZING. When I look at the energy, talent, dedication, and success of our students, I cannot help but say, “It comes from a great community and great people.
We are always taught to lead by example; your display of compassion and caring on Saturday said it all. Hats off to the best community in the world!

As I end this message, I must issue a challenge--a challenge for each of you to “Pay it forward”.  Don’t let Saturday be the end.  Continue to look for ways to help others, and encourage people to do the same. Don’t let it end after the holiday, but continue well beyond the season.

I cannot express enough my gratitude for your support on Saturday and your continued support of this great district.

I wish you all happy holidays!