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Janesville School Board member resigns over job flap

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 31, 2008
— The Janesville School Board is looking for a new member after board member Amy Rashkin resigned Friday.

And Rashkin is still looking for a job, possibly with the school district.


Rashkin said she resigned in hopes of quelling the controversy that erupted at Tuesday’s school board meeting.


She said resigning is one of the hardest things she has ever done.


“I loved my time on the board, but I’m not going to be the single-handed cause of the kind of crap we had last Tuesday, to put it bluntly,” she said.


Rashkin told her fellow board members Tuesday that she would likely resign so she could apply for a new administrative position that Superintendent Tom Evert is proposing.


Board member Tim Cullen had raised questions, saying he doesn’t think the position is necessary, and the board shouldn’t be creating positions for its own members.


Cullen said Evert had put the board in an untenable position by asking the board to approve a position that one of its members was likely to be chosen to fill.


No other board member echoed Cullen’s position, and several said they trusted Evert to recommend only the most qualified candidate.


The board took no action but referred the matter to its personnel committee, which Cullen chairs. The committee meets Tuesday, June 10.


Rashkin said her resignation is an attempt to put the matter to rest for the good of the district, and it is not an admission of any wrongdoing.


Evert said Thursday the position is needed, and Rashkin is well qualified for it, but it is not at all certain that he and an interview committee would find Rashkin to be the most qualified applicant.


Board policy allows the board to leave Rashkin’s school board seat vacant and wait until next April’s elections for the voters to pick a replacement. Or, the board could advertise for a new member, appoint a committee to interview applicants and then vote to appoint one.


Board President DuWayne Severson said Friday that it’s 11 months to the next election, the board has a lot of work ahead of it, so it would be best to appoint a replacement now.


“On behalf of the school board, we appreciate Amy’s work and how she has served the district and the board and children of our school district,” Severson said.


Rashkin had been deeply involved in several district initiatives during her 13 months on the board, including negotiations with the teachers union and implementation of The Studer Group process, which is meant to revamp district management practices and improve the quality of education.


The half-time position Evert is proposing would involve establishing a new staff-development system for teachers. It also would involve work on a district character-building initiative known as “core values.”


The position was first proposed as 80 percent of full-time with duties that also included work on Studer Group activities. Evert revised the position description without the Studer Group duties after discussions with company founder Quint Studer.


Studer will now fund a separate position, Evert said.


Rashkin said she is still interested in the staff-development position. She said the Studer Group job is also of interest.


“I have to put my family’s needs first,” she said.


Her background is in education, so she may apply to be a teacher or substitute teacher as well.


She has a master’s degree in music education as well as a law degree. She has also worked with her husband in their home mortgage business.


Asked whether her applying for a district job would put the board in an awkward position, Rashkin said: “If board wants to make an Amy Rashkin ban on all school positions, then … let them. I don’t know what else to do.”


Rashkin added that she hopes school officials do what’s best for the district and its children.


“We’re so far from that right now with this issue that’s its time for me to step away so the board can get back to the business of what board should be doing.”


EXCERPT

An excerpt from Amy Rashkin’s letter of resignation from the Janesville School Board:


“I appreciate the opportunity to have served on the board and have found the experience to be very challenging and rewarding. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Dr. Evert, the administration, faculty, and staff of the School District of Janesville who, in my opinion, are second to none. They will always have my support. I hope to stay active in education, and I believe my resignation will enable me to pursue career opportunities, whatever they may be, without placing fellow board members in an uncomfortable position.”



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