Elementary school management plan might be tweaked

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Monday, January 9, 2012
— Less than a semester after it began, the Janesville School District administration wants to alter its experiment in the management of two elementary schools.

The district created building coordinator positions to oversee Kennedy and Harrison elementary schools, with a principal overseeing the two coordinators.

Mike Kuehne, a longtime district principal, came out of retirement for the principal job.

The arrangement was one of many cost-saving measures enacted for this school year. Building coordinators are paid less than principals, and the district doesn't pay extra for Kuehne's health insurance because he is a retiree who is already covered.

Officials had said from the beginning that the arrangement would be monitored, and they weren't sure how it would work out.

Now, the administration recommends that Kuehne's position end this month. That would leave the building coordinators to continue as acting principals, officials said.

In addition, the district would hire an "academic learning coach" to work at Harrison and Kennedy.

The school board will be asked to approve the changes when it meets Tuesday.

Academic learning coaches are new positions this year, similar but not identical to the former learning-support teaching positions.

The coaches are experts in analyzing student test data, identifying weaknesses and working with teachers on strategies to address the problems. They work in classrooms and are supposed to be experts in computer-based technologies in education.

Currently, the building coordinators act as the academic learning coaches when Kuehne is in their buildings, officials said.

The hiring of the coach and the loss of Kuehne would probably work out to little if any change in cost for the rest of this school year, officials said.

The changes would put Harrison and Kennedy on an equal footing with Van Buren Elementary School, where a building coordinator runs the school, and the school receives part-time services of an academic learning coach.

Principals run the other nine elementary schools.

Superintendent Karen Schulte said the change has nothing to do with the job that Kuehne did, and she expects to have him to take on other tasks for the district when needed.

It's possible the administration will look at hiring actual principals to fill the three jobs next fall, Schulte said.

If you go

The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. Agenda items include:

-- A decision on whether to send a letter of support for Senate Bill 257, which would give Janesville and a few other school districts extra state aid next year because union contracts prevented them from achieving savings by requiring union employees to pay more for some of their benefits.

-- A decision on whether to eliminate the ninth-grade health course.

-- A closed session to discuss recent negotiations with the district's employee unions.

The meeting will be telecast live on Janesville cable channels 96 and 993. The meeting will be shown again on cable at 3 , 6, and 9 a.m., noon, 3, 6 and 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Last updated: 7:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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