Janesville69.4°

Board to look at Studer Group surveys

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 27, 2008

The Janesville School Board will get its first chance to discuss last spring's parent- and staff-satisfaction surveys when it meets Tuesday.


The surveys are part of an improvement process that is just beginning to take hold in the district. The process is based on the assumption that the district is doing a good job of educating the community's children, but there are, in the official phraseology, "opportunities for growth."


The surveys are one of several ways to identify those opportunities.


The improvement process stems from an extraordinary relationship between the district and Studer Group.


Studer Group is a national consulting firm that specializes in making good organizations better. Until now, most of its work has been in the health-care field.


Studer Group is working with the Janesville School District to put in place a system of constant, self-sustaining improvements using a system that has worked well in health care. Studer Group is donating its resources, an estimated value of $1.2 million.


Part of the system requires managers to be evaluated with specific improvement goals in mind. The key to the evaluations is a scorecard for each principal or other manager. The scorecard measures each person's performance using hard data. For instance, the superintendent is rated on a variety of measures that include academic improvement and truancy or dropout rates.


"Soft" data also is used. That's where surveys come in. The district sent out its first round of annual surveys last spring. Staff members and parents were the target groups. Their responses will be the baseline against which future improvement is measured.


The district received 1,667 responses from parents, out of a district enrollment of more than 10,000.


Among the data to be presented, according to a presentation prepared for the meeting:


-- Parents generally think their children's transportation to school is safe and that they have all the supplies and equipment needed to learn. Most parents also thought staff members treat their families with respect.


-- Many parents thought more resources should be devoted to the fine arts and to programs for the gifted and talented.


-- Many parents faulted Superintendent Tom Evert for not doing a good job of developing "active partnerships among students, parents, school personnel and the community."


-- Staff members generally are proud of their work, and they enjoy it, but many are unhappy with their compensation packages.


-- Many staff members aren't very happy with Evert's work. This may have something to do with the fact that the surveys were done as the teachers union and district were wrapping up a very contentious contract negotiation. Staff members said Evert was not clear and effective in the negotiations and did not manage district resources effectively.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville School Board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. Among the items on the agenda:


-- Approval of this year's tax levy, proposed to be $34.19 million, a 2.95 percent increase over 2007-08.


-- Discussion of possible e-mail accounts for board members.


The buildings and grounds/finance committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Services Center. On the agenda:


-- Review of a complaint from parents in the Deerfield subdivision who want their children picked up and dropped off at Edison Middle School later in the morning. Their letter states children must be at the bus stop at 6:30 a.m.


-- Discussion about the possibility of installing seat belts on buses.


-- Update on progress toward fixing the district's virus-damaged computer network. An Oct. 21 memo to staff states most problems have been fixed at the middle and elementary schools, but work still must be done to restore the high schools' systems.


-- Discussion of naming rights for parts of the ongoing high school expansion projects.


All committee items might also be discussed by the full board.


PICKING A SUPERINTENDENT

The Janesville School Board again will discuss the process for choosing a new superintendent when it meets at 10 a.m. Friday.


The board is planning to name a new superintendent in March. Superintendent Tom Evert plans to retire at the end of June.


Also on the agenda for Friday's meeting are a review of progress in the district's relationship with a management consultant, Studer Group, and a discussion of possible board-training activities.



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