Janesville73°

$20,000 question splits school board

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
July 23, 2008
— The Janesville School Board was caught Tuesday between a spending item to help fulfill its contract with the teachers and the desires of some board members to cut taxes.

At issue was about $20,000 for computer software that would help teachers and their bosses keep track of the teachers’ professional development efforts.


The board voted 6-3 to spend the money. Tim Cullen, Kevin Murray and DuWayne Severson voted no.


A new system that does away with mass training sessions was part of the new teachers contract. Instead, each teacher will have in individualized program.


The administration wanted to hire a part-time administrator to get the new system running, but the board said no to that.


The new request was for a computer system to manage the training needs of 800-plus teachers. The system is offered by MyLearningPlan.


Murray said teachers are professionals and should be trusted to manage their own professional development.


Board member Bill Sodemann said he thought the software, with its automated functions, actually would help those professionals better manage time and costs.


Board member Debra Kolste said she needed to pay $90 a year for similar software to keep up with her professional development as a medical technologist.


“This about enhancing our educational system and giving our teachers tools and resources they need to do their job and our administrators the resources they need to keep track of their employees,” said board member Lori Stottler.


DuWayne Severson said the timing was wrong: spending the money at a time the board has asked administration to find ways to reduce next year’s budget by $1 million.


Cullen objected to what he saw as being kept in the dark about the software request when the board was discussing the new administrative position.


Cullen said the situation reminded him of last spring’s vote to go ahead with the new Preschool 4 Janesville program before the administration told the board it would need to hire an administrator to oversee it.



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