Marshall Middle School getting dean of students for rest of the school year

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

JANESVILLE —Marshall Middle School is getting a dean of students for the rest of the school year, and administrators hope the position will improve student discipline and boost test scores.

The dean position will be non-administrative and will address behavioral, discipline and safety matters, lightening the workload for the principal and assistant principal, according to a memo from Principal Synthia Taylor. 

"I recommend that one interim dean be hired for second semester of the 2013-14 school year with the position being reassessed at the end of the year when we have more information about the 2014-15 budget and the teacher evaluation process," Taylor wrote.

In a memo to Superintendent Karen Schulte, Taylor said increasing administrator visibility will lower student accidents by discouraging horseplay and verbal or physical altercations.

She also hopes it will raise student test scores.

Stephen Sperry, director of Administrative and Human Services for the district, said that the move allows administrators to spend more time in classrooms focus on the instructional components of learning.

"We've intended to relieve the pressure of being in the office (spending time) on attendance and disciplinary issues," Sperry said. "We've been looking at the number of students there and listening to employees."

Because the number of students at Marshall is growing, the principal and assistant principal are spending more time on student discipline and less time on improving teacher effectiveness, Taylor wrote.

Marshall Middle School has the lowest student growth rate of the three Janesville middle schools and changes are needed in staff training, accountability and validation of instruction to better serve students, according to the memo.

Marshall Middle School has consistently scored a 50 percent or below on the Wisconsin State Report card in the area of student growth, the lowest overall student growth score in the district, according to the memo.

The growth rate is used to determine whether students are on track to move up or down one or more proficiency levels on standardized tests, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The school is expected to grow from 907 students in 2009-10 to 941 students in 2014-15, according to the memo.

"Even with a small enrollment growth, it is my belief that the duties of the two administrators have significantly increased," Taylor wrote.

Marshall has 912 students--278 in sixth grade, 344 in seventh grade and 300 in eighth grade. It's truancy rate in the past five years has averaged 10 percent, the highest of the district's three middle schools, according to the memo.

The dean of students position will cost the district $8,000 plus a $3,000 stipend for the remainder of this school year, according to the memo. It would be reviewed for next school year based on budget numbers. The operating budget for Marshall this school year is $265,000.

Sperry said the addition is similar to deans added in January at Craig and Parker high schools.

"I can't say it's going to be permanent," Sperry said. "It will be based on need."

He said that the contract for the position will end seven days after the end of school, and interviews will begin within the next week.

The position will be posted in March with the goal of making a hire in April, Taylor wrote.

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