Wednesday, December 17, 2014

School District of Janesville Says, Thanks!

Saturday, December 13, 2014, marked the sixth year for the Bags of Hope Fundraiser. The School District of Janesville would like to thank everyone for your help and donations.

With your help, we met our goal of raising over $40,000. This allowed us to provide over 300 families and 50 senior citizens with two weeks’ worth of groceries for the holidays. What a great way to pay it forward.

The dedication and sacrifice each of you made in making this event a success was truly amazing. Continue to pay it forward; it truly makes a difference in the lives of individuals.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

  • Landair
  • Woodman’s Markets (Dan Wright)
  • Seneca
  • QPS Employment Group
  • Control Solutions, Inc.
  • School District of Janesville
  • Nowlan and Mouat LLP
  • Amp Electric, Inc.
  • Bandt Communications
  • City of Janesville
  • Blackhawk Community Credit Union
  • LP Tree Service
It Doesn’t Seem Enough

I want to tell you "Thank you,"
But it doesn’t seem enough.
Words don’t seem sufficient--
"Blah, blah" and all that stuff.

Please know I have deep feelings
About your generous act.
I really appreciate you;
You’re special, and that’s a fact!

By Joanna Fuchs

Once again, thank you to each of you for a job well done!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Benefits Committee Funding Update

The Benefits Committee met today, Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at 8:00 a.m. to receive information from Associated Financial Group (AFG) regarding wellness plans and our dental and medical funding analysis. Dr. Kahl gave an overview of what has been accomplished through strategic planning and what to expect from today’s meeting.

Associated Financial Group (“AFG”) began working with the SDJ in September, 2014 as the District’s benefits consultants. Al Jaeger and David Kracht, both Senior Vice-Presidents and Senior Benefit Consultants with AFG, immediately began the benefits strategic planning process. This process included 4 phases: pre-planning, discovery, learning, and setting the course.

Al Jaeger and David attended two Meet and Confer sessions with the Board of Education and representatives from a large number of employee groups. The first Meet and Confer session focused on the discovery phase and resulted in an articulated vision and a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of our current benefits. The second Meet and Confer session focused on the learning phase where AFG presented an overview of the fundamentals of benefits, loss ratios, and peer group benchmarks. They also presented data on our health plan utilization, trending data, and an analysis of ACA (Affordable Care Act) compliance and impact, including how and when the District will be affected by the Cadillac excise tax.

Al and David facilitated a discussion with the Benefits Committee in November and led a discussion in order to set priorities for benefits over the next three to five years. Two of those priorities included wellness initiatives and plan design review which includes an analysis of dental and medical funding.

During today’s Benefits Committee meeting Al Jaeger of AFG presented a summary of the Health Risk Assessment and Wellness planning document. The purpose of a wellness program is to establish a progressive wellness model that is integrated into the long term planning and objectives of the district’s benefit program. The overarching objective is to establish a wellness program that positively impacts the benefits to be sustainable, accommodating and valuable to staff members. Next steps include packaging this into the final plan design for fiscal 2015-2016 or earlier. This should be determined no later than March 2015.

David Kracht, AFG, presented the dental and medical funding analysis. The SDJ dental funding analysis shows that we spent 89 cents on every dollar received as premiums for the 13-14 plan year. This can be a good predictor of what will happen in the future. The year to date (3 months) percentage of total costs to funding for this plan year (9/1/14 - 8/31/15) is currently at an estimated 69%. The SDJ is doing well, financially, with this plan design.

The analysis of the medical funding report revealed the year to date percentage of total costs to premium funding at an estimated 120% for the 9/1/13-8/31/14 plan year. We used money from our reserve to cover the $2.1 million dollars funding shortfall of fiscal 2014-2015. The projections for future costs for health care are grim.  The claims funding for fiscal 2015-2016 is projected to be $17.8M which is an increase of $5.5 million or 42.47% from fiscal 2014-2015. These projections are early and there are some projection variables. However, we can expect a plus or minus 5% variance to these projections

Administration will continue to work with AFG to look at healthcare options with a three-pronged approach, which includes the following: driving down costs for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year without raising premium share; changing the plan redesign for the 2015-2016 school year, which may include increases in premium share; and long range planning that may include an onsite clinic model. The superintendent will bring a recommendation to the Board no later than January 2015 for the 2014-2015 school year and no later than March 2015 for the 2015-2016 school year. We will share the information received today during a Meet and Confer session on Thursday, February 5, 2015, from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm.

Employees and Principals of the Year Celebrated at Reception

This year’s Employees and Principals of the Year were honored at a reception at the Pontiac Convention Center on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  The School District of Janesville’s Employee of the Year recipients are chosen from nominees by a committee of the district's administrators, staff members, parents and community leaders.

We have also designated a category of Principal of the Year and these recipients are chosen from the results of the parent and staff surveys. Principals and other administrators are selected based on performance standards, as opposed to a subjective measurement system.

The recipients are as follows:

2013-14 Employees of the Year:

Pam Clutson- 6th Grade Teacher, Marshall Middle School

Sue Dahl -LMC Aide, Adams Elementary

Jim Dulin - Maintenance, Franklin Middle School

Cherie Farrell - Paraprofessional, Craig High School

Bri Helbing - Middle School Teacher, ARISE Virtual Academy

Leah Hellenbrand - 3rd/4th Grade Teacher, Kennedy Elementary

Maria Kane - Art Teacher, Craig High School

Terri Kislia - 2nd Grade Teacher, Adams Elementary

Renee Murphy - Counselor, Edison Middle School

Wendy Nelson - Secretary, Lincoln Elementary

Tonya Richter - Head Custodian, Jefferson Elementary

Nadine Rohr - Nutrition Manager, Edison Middle School

Karen Smerlinski - Art Teacher, Kennedy Elementary

Paul Stengel - Program Support Teacher, Educational Services Center

Christine Veium - Academic Learning Coach, Madison Elementary

Eric Wahl - Academic Learning Coach, Harrison Elementary

Kathy White - Assistive Technology Specialist, Educational Services Center

2013-14 Principals of the Year:

Dr. Alison Bjoin - Principal, Craig High School

Scott Garner - Principal, Washington Elementary

Kim Peerenboom - Principal, Wilson Elementary

Monday, December 1, 2014

Technology Advances in the School District of Janesville

Chromebooks, iPads, Laptops, Computer Labs - everywhere we look there is more technology than ever before for students and staff.  The future for our students is about opportunity, and today, opportunity is predicated on access to technology from the earliest ages.

Our students and staff begin with students in Kindergarten, teaching them how to use the web for information in ways that are safe and engaging, making learning fun.  Study after study shows that when students are interested in school, their learning improves.  As children grow and mature from Kindergarten through High School, their time and use of technology advances too. 

In each of our elementary, middle, and high schools, we have iPads, Chromebooks, and computer labs in use all day, every day.  Students use them throughout the day, sometimes with an iPad, sometimes a Chromebook, sometimes in a computer lab.   Students are able to weave in and out throughout the day, using technology as a tool for their learning.

All across our State, there are schools experimenting with 1:1 technology.  This means that there are enough iPads and Chromebooks for every child and staff member to use as their own.  Like other leading schools in the State, we are working with this level of technology access to determine if it makes a difference on student achievement.

At Lincoln Elementary this year (2014), we are piloting our first year of 1:1 technology.  Last year (2013), we completed our first small pilot with 1:1 in the 3rd grade classrooms at Lincoln, and this year have expanded it to include the entire school.  Principal Galvin and his staff are doing an excellent job taking a lead as a pilot school. 

We know that some schools have students helping with technology: a student “geek squad.”  Lincoln is also involving students to support and integrate technology into the classroom.  They call themselves “Tech Ninjas,” working with teachers and students to support 1:1 technology use at Lincoln.    

We are proud of the 1:1 technology work at Lincoln and are waiting to see the results of the data being collected, as we are collecting student achievement data to determine if this level of technology access makes a difference in a child’s education.

Everything we do in the School District of Janesville is about advancing student achievement.  Whether it is our teaching strategies, curriculum investment, or our use of technology in the classroom, making a difference in student achievement is the bottom line.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The School District of Janesville is Hiring Substitutes

Nationwide, school districts are experiencing substitute shortages.  This has been found to be due, in part, to economic improvement and a lower unemployment rate.  The School District of Janesville is working diligently to serve our students by increasing our substitute numbers.  We are currently hiring both certified and non-certified substitute teachers as well as substitute aides.  We have also sent out a survey to our substitute teacher pool to solicit feedback from them on key items such as how we compare to other districts, what we are doing well, and areas where we can improve.

The following are frequently asked questions regarding substitutes in the School District of Janesville.

Why was the window for applications closed?

The vacancy for Certified Substitute Teachers was opened on WECAN on August 21, 2014 and remains open.  To date, the District has received applications from 40 individuals and sent out hiring paperwork to all who meet District standards.   The District also hires Non-Certified Substitute Teachers (those who have a Bachelor’s Degree in something other than teaching).  This vacancy was posted on September 26, 2014, and is currently open.  Of the applicants to date, 15 have been invited to attend our first training session on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

How does the District promote hiring subs?

Currently, substitute vacancies are posted on the WECAN website ( and shared through employees managing up the School District of Janesville.  We are also in the process of posting information related to substitute teaching on the electronic sign at the ESC, the SDJ Facebook page, and the main District website.

Why do other districts pay more?

The District is currently in the process of evaluating and reviewing our substitute pay rate as compared to other area districts.  We do not have knowledge of what other school districts’ financials are, therefore, we can’t provide an answer to this question.

Why aren’t some subs getting calls?

There are many different reasons that a sub might not be receiving calls from SubFinder.  Many of our subs have indicated preferences in building or assignment, and will only receive a call if a job meeting their criteria is available.  If you hear from a sub that they are not receiving calls from SubFinder, please direct them to call Mandy Harper at 608-743-5026 immediately, as there are several system settings that may need to be modified in order for them to begin receiving calls.

What can I do to help?

If you know of someone who is interested in working for the School District of Janesville as a substitute, please direct them to apply via the WECAN website (   Vacancies can be found in the following areas:

Certified Substitute Teachers – Apply under Certified Staff to Vacancy ID 67303
Substitute Teachers-4 Year Degree – Apply under Support Staff to Vacancy ID 17866
Substitute Aides – Apply under Support Staff to Vacancy ID 17771

If there are questions on where to find the vacancies or how to apply, interested individuals may contact Mandy Harper at or 608-743-5026.