Board to look at un-cutting teachers

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Monday, January 18, 2010
— The Janesville School Board will consider whether to reinstate elementary teaching positions cut more than two years ago.

The board’s personnel committee will review the situation and consider whether those cuts had a negative effect on students, said Steve Sperry, director of human and administrative resources.

Impetus for the review came from school board member Peter D. Severson, who wasn’t on the board when the cuts were made.

Severson told fellow school board members on Tuesday that he thinks the cuts might have hurt academics in the elementary schools.

Previous boards tried to make the cuts equitable, Severson said. “I just don’t think it worked in this area.”

Severson, who is running for re-election, noted the board over the past year has tried to keep its budget cuts as far from the classroom as possible, so it makes sense to apply that principle to previous cuts.

Each of the city’s 12 elementary schools used to have its own music teacher. Enrollments didn’t require a full-time music teacher at each school, however, so those teachers also worked in other areas.

They provided a “music and motion” class after the school board cut physical education teachers so kids could continue to get 90 minutes of phy ed each week. They helped math teachers, giving students individualized attention. They organized choral groups at many schools and supported other enrichment activities.

The board cut two music teachers starting in September 2008. Now, 10 teachers cover 12 schools. Some schools have different music teachers covering different parts of the school day.

Music teachers were at Tuesday’s board meeting to do what they have done several times in the past: present their case for adding two more music teachers.

Students no longer have the benefit of a close relationship with one music teacher for the six years of elementary school, said teacher Elizabeth Raduly. Instead, some have as many as six music teachers in six years.

Teacher Kim Schram said band teachers have noted a lack of rhythmic knowledge, especially among students who attend schools with multiple traveling music teachers.

Whether anything will come of the review is unclear. Officials have said that finding money in next year’s budget could be more difficult than it was for this year.

The district uses a figure of $57,000 to estimate the cost of a teacher’s pay and benefits.

Sperry said reinstating the two music positions is just one way to improve academics. The committee’s review will look at all the “special-area teachers”—music, art and phy ed.

Hiring a reading specialist or some other kind of teacher is another move that might be considered, Sperry said.

Three elementary principals will be assigned to give their input to the committee, Sperry said.

Sperry could not say when any changes might be put into effect, but he wants the discussion to begin as soon as possible.

Last updated: 12:38 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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