Janesville School District might need to hire more teachers

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Frank Schultz
Monday, September 10, 2012

— Janesville public school officials gave themselves little room for error when they estimated the number of teachers they would need this fall. Now, they might have to find room in the budget to hire more.

The school board will hear a report on the potential problem at its meeting Tuesday.

The district budget contains three "contingencies," which is money set aside to hire the equivalent of three teachers.

Contingencies have already been used to add a fourth-grade teacher at Madison Elementary School and teaching hours at Madison Elementary and Craig and Parker high schools.

In the meantime, eight elementary schools have grades where enrollments are close to the maximum allowed by board policy, and it is not unusual for enrollments to fluctuate this time of year.

Just one or two more students in those grades could trigger the need for a new class section and another teacher. Officials refer to those situations as "hot spots."

Among the hottest spots are the fifth grade at Van Buren Elementary School and fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary, where one more student would push the class size over the maximum of 30.

Van Buren's fourth grade is already over the limit at 32 students per class, but Steve Sperry, director of administrative and human services, is waiting until the official fall enrollment count Sept. 21 to be sure the numbers don't change before hiring another teacher there.

The "tight" scheduling of teacher staffing this year was an effort to keep the budget under control, but Sperry warned last spring when the board approved the staffing plan that hot spots could be a problem.

Board policy sets maximum class sizes of 25 in kindergarten through third grade, 30 in grades 4-8 and 32 in grades 9-12.

Other elementary schools with hot spots are Madison second grade, Jackson kindergarten and second grade, Roosevelt kindergarten, Jefferson fifth grade, Washington second grade and Wilson third grade.

The contingencies could cover one more teacher. After that, the board would have to find revenue or savings to cover the added cost.

If more than one teacher is needed, the board will see a request for funding at its Sept. 25 meeting, Sperry said.

The board is already looking at a $3.5 million deficit in this year's budget. The board's most likely move will be to use its fund balance.

Discussions on how to fill the budget gap could continue Tuesday and at the board's next meeting Sept. 25.

Whether overall enrollment is higher than anticipated remains unknown until the annual fall count Sept. 21.

Last updated: 4:40 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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