Janesville School Board members will consider a gun safety resolution as part of its meeting Tuesday.
The resolution, which was written in response to the the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, asks for comprehensive legislation that “effectively addresses our nation’s persistent and pervasive gun problem.”
Such legislation would include mandatory universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and rapid-fire devices such as bump stocks, the resolution said. In addition, such legislation would prohibit people who are under domestic violence restraining orders from having guns, and it would prevent students, teachers or parents from possessing guns on school grounds.
The resolution, which was presented by board member Cathy Myers, was modeled on a similar resolution that came out of the Madison School District, said Janesville School Board President Kevin Murray.
“It’s such a hot topic right now in our society,” Murray said. “We wanted to make it clear to the community that we’re providing a safe and healthy environment for our kids. This is part of that.”
Reaching out to national and state legislators with such a resolution is a way to let students, teachers and parents know school safety is a top priority for the district, Murray said.
Other reasons for the resolution are contained within the document itself. For example, because school shootings have become such regular occurrences, school districts around the country—including Janesville—“have been forced to fortify their school buildings, hire armed security and conduct active shooting drills.”
The resolution also echoed the statement made by students at the Florida high school: “School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing and growing.”
In other business Tuesday, the board will:
- Consider phasing out Chinese classes at elementary schools in the city. The classes, which began in the 2009-2010 school year, were established in a handful of elementary schools.
Originally, foreign language programs were going to be expanded to all elementary schools. Budget constraints prevented that from happening, according to the memo.
At a school board meeting last month, two elementary school principals from Janesville proposed the Chinese language program be phased out, according to a memo from district Director of Learning and Innovation Allison DeGraaf.
The memo suggested the Chinese language program in the elementary schools could be replaced with an “exploratory world language survey” that would be required for all sixth-graders.
- Consider the 2018-2019 staffing plan. The plan is based on the assumption that overall enrollment in the district is expected by rise by 28 students.
The largest increases are expected in kindergarten and at the first-, seventh- and eighth-grade levels. But because of enrollment drops in other grades, the changes mean an overall decrease in full-time instructional staff of 9.8 positions.
It’s unknown at this time if there are any contracts that will not be renewed. Often, retirements and resignations more than make up those numbers, according to staffing plan documents.