Your Views: Why couldn’t Janesville School District get handbook done on time?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Last April 15, Janesville School District teachers had to decide whether to sign contracts.

That wasn’t an easy decision for many. The problem they faced was that there was no information provided to them about the next year’s benefits—salary, insurance and working conditions. That information was to be provided in a “handbook,” which the district knew it had to create for more than two years.

More than 400 Wisconsin school districts created local handbooks in just a few months after the contentious Act 10 was enacted in 2011. But because Janesville had a three-year contract in place, the district’s handbook wasn’t needed until this past spring.

But the Janesville district just couldn’t get the job done.

This, of course, has caused problems. A school board member, when advised that senior teachers might be forced to retire to protect earned benefits or others were frustrated enough to resign and seek employment elsewhere, stated, Let them—we can easily find replacements.

Yet replacements—more than 100 were needed—were not found in all cases by the time school started. And is it really a victory for education in Janesville when large numbers of experienced teachers are replaced by just-out-of college teachers?

I am left wondering why the district was unable to meet a reasonable deadline when officials knew that their inaction would negatively affect so many people. What has the district leadership been spending its time on for the past two years that could be more important?



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