Teachers report for new year amid continued uncertainty
The festivity did not appear to banish the uneasiness of staff returning to work after layoffs and budget cuts.
"We had a tough year last year," Superintendent Karen Schulte said. "It was really tough."
Donna Stenner, accounts payable clerk supervisor and chief steward of AFSCME Local 938, received loud applause when she said: "State funding has been cut to the point of ridiculous, and deep and painful cuts have been made.
"We are having to do so much more with so fewer staff than we ever felt possible," she said.
An even larger deficit for the 2012-13 budget and a teachers contract expiring in 2013 is causing an "underlying level of stress and unease in our schools the likes of which has never been experienced," Stenner said.
"No one knows what the future has in store. All we can do is hope for a better future."
District staff must work together so students receive the quality of education they expect and deserve, she said.
Schulte said the 2010-11 school year would make history not only for Janesville but also for the state.
"We probably have a couple more tough years ahead of us," she said.
The outpouring of support from community members has been overwhelming, she said. Churches are adopting schools, and businesses and residents are stepping forward with supplies and other support.
"They really want to stand beside us and work with us," she said.
We're all in this together and must find ways to build bridges and work together, Schulte said.
"We are here to teach children," she said. "That is our passion, our calling to inspire and instill a love of learning.
"We share over 10,000 children together, and we have a responsibility to open our doors and our arms to the children. And we do it every year.
"We push aside hard feelings, we roll up our sleeves and do our jobs.
"Because we love what we do."