Studer costs detailed

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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Janesville School District has spent about $80,000 over the past 2½ years to send employees to conferences around the country as part of its Journey to Excellence.

The Gazette and others requested the estimate months ago. The district released its estimate Thursday in an employee newsletter.

The Journey to Excellence was known earlier as the Studer process. The Studer Group, run by former Janesville resident and health care consultant Quint Studer, has been training district staff in its quality-improvement method since December 2007.

Studer Group offers seminars called Taking You and Your Organization to the Next Level, or TYYO. The district has sent 209 people—mostly administrators and teachers—to TYYOs so far.

The district pays for hotels, meals, luggage fees and travel to and from the airport for the TYYOs, Superintendent Karen Schulte said. Studer covers airfare and the conference fees. Studer has spent about $314,000 thus far, Schulte said.

Studer has pledged $1.2 million in total to the project.

Some people have a misconception that Studer was going to pay for everything, but that was never the deal, Schulte said.

The spending is in the name of improving education, Schulte said.

“I believe a well-trained staff can really deliver on what we want do as a district,” Schulte said. “Our mission as a district is to deliver the most exemplary education we can. ... I believe that’s more important now than ever before” because of the loss of so many local jobs in recent years.

“We need to make sure our kids are well tooled to go out and get different kinds of jobs than typically our community has had before,” Schulte said.

Schulte said federal grants cover most of the district-paid expenses. Those grants include stimulus funding and a program called Title 2, which require that certain amounts be spent to train staff. The money must be returned if not used for training.

Schulte said the district’s expenses are estimated. She said the district’s computer system cannot separate expenses for the Studer seminars from money spent for other training, so those expenses were estimated and multiplied by the number of participants.

The alternative was to put someone in a room for a day or two with all the training-travel vouchers from the past 2½ years, Schulte said, and she decided that wasn’t a good use of time.

Figuring out that the computer system couldn’t give an answer and deciding how to go about giving an estimate are reasons it’s taken so long to supply an answer to the question, Schulte said.

The Janesville Education Association also has asked for an accounting of this spending. JEA President Dave Parr said he needed time to study the just-released figures before commenting.

Studer is paying for some items beyond the $1.2 million, Schulte said. For example, Studer offered, and Schulte accepted, training with a speech coach to improve her presentations, which would have cost her about $7,000, she said.

Schulte said all district administrators need to improve their presentations, and she will be working with them, using the knowledge she gained with the speech coach.

Schulte said she and Personnel Director Steve Sperry also attended a seminar on how to handle difficult conversations with staff, which Studer also paid for.

Last updated: 2:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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