Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011-12 First Quarter Reflection 11/30/11

Dear Staff,

We made a number of changes in the 2011-12 school year due to financial constraints. We have two elementary schools with a shared principal; we have one elementary school with a building coordinator and principal mentorship; we reduced our number of counselors, library media staff and learning support teachers. In spite of these cutbacks we are still able to produce some of the most amazingly performed musicals ever; we win awards; we continue to help students achieve at a high level and we, meaning all of you, continue to be a most amazing staff.

Please share with this blogging community what is working well for you this year and what kind of constraints you have experienced.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Finance Committee Meeting 3/28/11

Dear Employees, True to my word I promised to look for more reductions before the next board meeting, so we would not have to reduce as many staff as had been projected. We will still have to reduced staff, but I hope to reduce the total number as little as I can while still responding to the budget crisis. Please understand me clearly, the number of reductions will still be as large. No one will like all of my ideas. I have tried to think as far outside the box without totally eroding public education and all that is good about what we do. Some of you said "Please don't tell anyone I sent this to you," and I won't tell. Finding more budget cuts is not pulling a "rabbit out of the hat". I have spent almost every waking hour on this. I have dug and dug and dug to find cuts and I have learned so much about this district. It has been an important process. My reductions are not meant to harm anyone or make people angry. I have touched almost everyone's "sacred cow". It is now for the Board to determine how they would like to proceed. As always, I appreciate your input and would love to hear from you. Here are some important dates to remember: Monday, March 28, 2011 5:30 p.m. Finance Committee Meeting Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:30 p.m. Board Meeting (The budget will be discussed) Tuesday, April 5, 2011 VOTE! If you want to discuss Board Candidates, give me a call. One other bit of information that several of you have asked me about. "Would the Board be willing to give JEA members close to retirement a benefit to allow them to retire a year early?" I personally think the idea has merit; however, since a Memorandum of Understanding would need to be written, it would be viewed as opening the contract. The risk is the same as opening the contract to decide on the WRS payment. As along as the JEA believes there is a risk, we can not move on any of these ideas. Please refer to the Journey to Excellence newsletter for a detailed list of budget reductions that I will be presenting to the Board.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Budget Shortfall 3/8/11

I presented my budget reduction list to the Board tonight. Now they will decide how much of the fund balance to use and if there are more reductions to be made. Please continue to think outside the box. Don't waste your time lobbying for positions. All positions are important. Think of other ways to reduce the budget or increase revenue. Thank you to all and congrats to the SCA!
Karen

Friday, February 25, 2011

Result of 2/25/11 Board Meeting

As a result of tonight's Board meeting preliminary notices of nonrenewal will NOT be sent to the JEA bargaining unit by February 28, 2011.

Special Board Meeting 2/25/11

Dear School District of Janesville Employees:

Never would I have believed in my 30 plus years in education that I would be facing the change and uncertainty that has occurred in the last several weeks. Daily, sometimes hourly, I am receiving information from various professional organizations, attorneys, the media and politicians giving me additional information, an idea or something else to consider as we try to understand the Budget Repair Bill and its impact on the SDJ.

We have invited our attorney, Mike Julka, to present an overview of the Budget Repair Bill and its impact on the SDJ to the Board tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at the ESC at a special board meeting. Early reports indicate significant reductions in state aid to school districts, meaning considerably less revenue to support education for our students. We hope to receive clear answers to our questions about modifying contracts and whether or not we have to follow the state statute for preliminary notices of nonrenewal on or before 2/28/11. If we do have to follow the statute we will have to issue notices. We may need to issue more than we would like to, but I certainly don’t think we will need to give them to everyone. We also had a Boundary Line Committee meeting this evening and it was determined that the SDJ has enough classroom space to close one or possibly two elementary schools to save money in the looming budget shortfall. An analysis of Janesville’s elementary schools by Commissioner Ardrey showed that the district could have up to 32 available classrooms, which is enough to eliminate two schools. Committee members asked us to review the savings if Wilson, Roosevelt, Jackson or Jefferson elementary schools were closed. We will be scrambling to quickly further analyze these schools from an educational, transportation and financial aspect.Like many of you I am struggling to understand what these changes will mean for all of us who have made working in the field of education our purpose and passion in life. As we are all constantly reacting to the massive nature of these changes and the unknown implications, I am thankful for the dedication and professionalism that I have heard in my conversations with many of you. I am impressed by the concern you have for our students and each other. Don’t ever lose that.

No matter what happens in the near future I am confident that we will continue to treat each other with dignity and respect. We must support one another and seek answers to these difficult questions. Please take time to assess the facts before the rumors. We have survived difficult times before and we will again because of each other and our commitment to our students.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011-12 Budget Shortfall

Hello Everyone,

In my attempt to increase communication with all employees in the SDJ I asked Steve Schlomann to help me set up a Blog. I would like to try this venue in order to hear from more of you. About 10% of our 1400 employees contact me regularly through e mail, instant message, text and phone. I would like to increase this number to at least 50%. Here is my first topic and it is a big one with lots of componants. I would ask that you read the budget information that you received in the Jan/Feb newsletter. This will give you some background information. There have also been several articles in the Gazette and information in the Board packets on the budget. The Board packet for 2/8/11 posted on our website will also include valuable information. I only ask that as you post you identify yourself and be respectful.