Janesville56.2°

Janesville School Board trims more jobs

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 11, 2011
— The Janesville School Board approved job cuts, fee increases and other spending cuts Tuesday as it neared its goal of balancing next year’s budget.

The board voted 9-0 to eliminate 37.5 counselors, learning-support teachers, librarians, reading specialists and other teachers-union members categorized as support staff, saving about $2 million.


That and other decisions Tuesday got the board close to its goal of climbing out of a projected $13.4 million budget hole.


Superintendent Karen Schulte said after the meeting that the board’s decisions have brought the budget “pretty close” to being balanced.


About 80 support-staff members had received layoff notices, but now many of them will be able to compete for about 42 jobs that remain.


Some of those jobs, however, will be given new duties and responsibilities under a plan presented Tuesday.


Kim Ehrhardt, director of instruction, presented a “framework” for how the administration would restructure the jobs of a number of counselors, librarians and learning-support teachers.


Some librarians and high school counselors will continue to be employed in those jobs, Ehrhardt said. Others will be hired into newly created positions that use their skills in new ways, often requiring them to work in more than one school.


The plan calls for 14 of the 17 learning-support teachers to be brought back. Some will fill new positions called academic learning coaches.


Either 10 or 15 of the 19 librarians will be brought back. Some will fill new positions and be called “innovation specialists,” helping with new teaching techniques and computer technology.


Either 18 or 22 of the counselors will be brought back. Some will become “student services specialists” and deal with students’ socio-emotional needs.


Board members expressed frustration that the administration couldn’t supply precise numbers, show how each school would be affected or explain more precisely how duties would be handled.


New board member Scott Feldt called the information “woefully lacking.”


Feldt, Lori Stottler and DuWayne Severson all said they needed more information to make a decision.


In the end, they relented and left the details to the administration.


The board also approved a proposal to name Mike Kuehne, a retired principal, to oversee both Kennedy and Harrison elementary schools as interim principal in the coming year.


One “building coordinator” would assist Kuehne at each school. Those coordinators would not work in classrooms, but they would help with staff training, attendance, discipline and instructional strategies, according to a memo by Steve Sperry, human resources director.


Schulte said she is considering creating three more building-coordinator positions but did not say how they would be used. Five elementary principals are retiring or resigning at the end of this school year.


Kuehne retired as principal of Craig High School in 2010. He has served as principal at the elementary and middle school levels as well as high school.


Kuehne will be paid $56,000 a year, but he won’t get benefits because he’s retired. The move will save about $140,000, according to Sperry’s memo.


Sperry said the arrangement will be monitored throughout next year to see how well it works.


Severson said the board should consider doing the same with more elementary schools.


OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the Janesville School Board voted:


-- To cut three maintenance positions, saving $150,000. Kevin Murray opposed this and other position cuts, trying to get the board to dip into its reserves to save them, but he got little support.


-- To cut 15 clerks, secretaries and/or aides. The vote was 6-2, with Murray and Stottler voting against the cut. Greg Ardrey, whose wife is among those who could be affected, abstained.


-- To raise registration fees by $10 at the elementary and middle schools and $11 at the high schools. The result would be fees of $30 at the elementary schools, $35 at the middle schools and $40 at the high schools. The move could raise about $90,000. Karl Dommerhausen voted “no.”


-- To reject a proposal to charge an $18 fee for workbooks.


-- To reject a proposal to charge employees for their electrical usage when they bring refrigerators, space heaters and other appliances from home.


-- To cut one full-time-equivalent nursing position, saving $56,000.


-- To cut three police officers that are stationed at the middle schools, saving $125,000.


-- To postpone action on a proposal to cut $650,000 from the maintenance budget. This was less than the $1 million cut proposed earlier, but the board voted to refer the matter to the buildings-and-grounds committee before deciding at its May 24 meeting.



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