Janesville67.4°

School district survey answers few questions

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
March 7, 2009
— A recent survey of Janesville School District parents shows only 10 families are planning to leave before the school year starts next September.

But Superintendent Karen Schulte said she is worried that that's just the tip of the iceberg as the effects of Janesville's double-digit unemployment rate kick in.


The 10 families represent 27 children. The biggest concentrations of students who are leaving were at Franklin Middle and Parker High schools with five each.


Another 74 families representing 107 children said they would leave Janesville but didn't know when.


The biggest concentrations among those 107 children were at Jackson Elementary and Parker High schools, 13 each; Craig High, 11; and Franklin Middle and Madison Elementary, 10 each.


Schulte said about 1,200 families answered the survey. If families average 2.5 children each, then that represents 3,000 children in a district of 10,000.


Schulte said she's worried that the worst is yet to come.


"I don't know, but I think if and when it hits, it could happen really quickly, and I'd hate to be in a situation where we're scrambling to react to this," Schulte said.


Schulte said she might order another parent survey at the end of the school year or in the summer.


Steve Salerno, director of human services, said he did not use the survey to develop next year's teacher-staffing plan, but he did staff the schools with as few teachers and aides as possible while remaining faithful to board policy for teacher-student ratios.


Schulte said the surveys did not directly ask whether the out-migrations were because of job losses at General Motors and related companies, but she is sure that is the case for some of the families.


Also unknown is the number of families with school-aged children who might move into the district before next September.


In 2007, 357 students left the district between June and September, while 489 entered.


In 2008, 332 left the district and 475 entered.


Whether in-migration would remain as high, given the local unemployment rate, is another question for school officials to consider.



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