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Janesville School Board to consider combining schools

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
April 16, 2011
— Hundreds of Janesville parents and students could be affected by changes being contemplated starting in September 2012.

The Janesville School Board for some time has discussed closing an elementary school as a way of saving money. Board member Greg Ardrey, who heads a boundary-line committee that has been examining the issue, now talks about “combining schools.”


The school board on Wednesday night might decide the next step for combining schools.


One likely scenario would disperse an elementary school’s students to several other elementary schools, leaving that school open to be taken over by one or more of the charter schools.


Charter schools such as the TAGOS Leadership Academy and Rock River Charter School are now in leased buildings. Both are alternative schools for high school students and, in TAGOS’ case, some middle school students.


The lease costs would be eliminated if the charter schools moved to a district-owned building.


Ardrey said the committee could come up with a prioritized list of all 12 elementary schools, showing which ones are the best choices for such a move.


Ardrey said he wants to hear from board members Wednesday about what data they would like collected to help them make the best decision possible.


Ardrey said he’d like his committee to come up with the list by August and then gather input from the city, police, parents and the rest of the community until about Oct. 1. The board could make a decision in time for the administration to put the plan in action starting in September 2012.


Some board members also have expressed interest in exploring a junior high school model, and that could be part of Wednesday’s discussion, Ardrey said.


The board on Wednesday also will discuss organization and procedures, possibly with a restructuring of its standing committees, said board member Lori Stottler.


Stottler said the idea is to make the decision-making process more efficient, especially in light of recent meetings, some of which have lasted five hours.


Stottler said she would like to see “a better structure, something that’s going to a help us steer towards not being reactive, but proactive.”


One model being considered is having two standing committees to combine the functions of the current four committees, Stottler said.


Stottler said she would also like to consider giving the board’s vice president more “executive authority,” which would result in the president and vice president working closely with the superintendent, rather than just the president.


Both current President Bill Sodemann and board member Kevin Murray have said they would like to be president in the coming year.


Stottler noted Sodemann and Murray often disagree, so having their divergent views both represented at the top could build trust among board members.


If you go

What: Special meeting of the Janesville School Board


When: 6 p.m. Wednesday


Where: Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville.


Details: The meeting is open to the public, but the agenda does not include a public comment time.



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