Janesville School District exploring more partnerships abroad

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

JANESVILLE—Last week, Karen Schulte, Janesville School District superintendent and Yolanda Cargile, director of at-risk and multicultural programs, visited Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Both believe the experience will go a long way towards bettering both teaching and learning in the district as part of its international initiative.

"It was an educational and perspective enhancing experience," Cargile told the Janesville School Board on Tuesday. "I am excited about the endless opportunities for our students."

Cargile said she relished the opportunity to connect with students from other countries to learn about their experiences.

"Parents want the best possible education for their children," she said.

A classroom that expands beyond the textbook will benefit students in the Janesville district, Cargile said.

“We are constantly looking at ways to enrich our students," she said.

The trip was made last week during spring break so office time wasn't sacrificed, Schulte said. She and Cargile donated 32 hours of their time and used some of their own money for expenses, Schulte said.

"We did not use taxpayer money," she said. "The trip was funded with money from JIEP (Janesville International Education Program) and donations."

While on the trip, Schulte and Cargile toured American, Arabic and British schools with the hopes of "exploring possibilities with the UAE."

"It's becoming a worldwide cultural center," Schulte said of Abu Dhabi.

The district has plans to have up to 100 international students enrolled in fall to attend school during the 2014-15 school year, and it could have up to 200 by 2015-16.

In other business:

-- The board unanimously approved sending non-renewal notices to 10 staff members not based on performance.

The move is made annually to plan for next year's personnel budget. It is based in part on expected enrollment numbers at each school. Half of the positions were lost because a Building Understanding Respect Support Trust (BURST) grant the district was using had run out.

--The board unanimously voted to approve $400,000 in capital improvements at Craig High School, Parker High School and Edison Middle School.

Keith Pennington, chief financial officer for the district, said these items will be part of the district's capital improvement plan released in May. The projects need to go out for bids, however, and must be completed this summer, so the board had to vote on them Tuesday, he said.

Pennington said the projects should make up less than 25 percent of the district's capital improvement budget.

"I don't think we are locking ourselves into any financial hardship by approving this early, he said.

Roofing above the original gym at Craig and above the auditorium at Parker will cost $300,000. The additional $100,000 will be used to replace the parking lot at Edison.

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