Chinese school on board agenda

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March 21, 2009
— A new charter school that would teach Chinese to Janesville elementary school students is being planned, but it’s not clear the school board would approve it in the current economic climate.

The Janesville School Board meets Monday to discuss a grant application that could get the project off the ground.

The school board won’t have details about costs and revenues to support the school. Officials are still developing those.

The charter school would be located at Harrison Elementary School. It would open in September 2010. It would be called the Janesville Academy of Chinese, according to information prepared for the board meeting.

Board member Lori Stottler said this week she supports the idea but isn’t sure the district can afford it right now. The board is facing probable budget cuts to balance the 2009-10 budget.

Board members also are worried enrollment might drop steeply this fall, which would put a dent in district revenue now and into the future.

The planning document calls for integrating Chinese language and culture “into all aspects of the curriculum.”

Harrison was selected as the site because it is the only elementary school with room for the school, officials have said.

Instruction, mainly about culture, would start in kindergarten. Language instruction would begin in first grade, in 30-minute classes, three times a week.

The Chinese instructor would teach art, music, drama and dance, the document states.

“Meditation, martial arts and other physical activities popular in China will be integrated into the day,” it reads.

The use of “advanced technology” would be a key part of the curriculum.

Technology would include Smart Boards, which are digitally controlled boards that replace white or black boards, and Kindles, which are digital devices that display text.

Officials hope to develop a relationship with the Milwaukee Chinese Academy Charter School, a school in China, and the Janesville Academy for International Studies. JAIC is a charter school for high school students, where Chinese has been taught to small numbers of students in recent years.

The document envisions an enrollment of 45 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the first year. Enrollments would increase gradually through 2014, when the school would have 145 students.

Students would be picked by lottery, officials have said.

A grant from the state Department of Public Instruction would pay for planning during the upcoming school year. Planning grants typically lead to implementation grants that pay startup expenses.

The board will be asked to vote on the grant application April 14.


The Janesville School Board meets at an unusual time—6 p.m.—and an unusual day—Monday—at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St.

For the first time, an agenda for the meeting and supporting documents are posted on the school district’s Web site, www.janesville.k12.wi.us. Click on “Board of Education” on the menu bar at the top of the page and then click on “Board of Education Agenda/Items.”

Meeting agenda items include:

--A presentation by school social workers, Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden and Janesville interim police chief Dave Moore, about drug abuse trends.

--Continued discussion of a preliminary staffing plan for 2009-10.

--Closed-session discussion of upcoming contract negotiations with the teachers union.

--Closed-session conferring with legal counsel about a personal-injury claim. The board may come out of closed session and vote on a motion to deny the claim.

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