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Three new Janesville TIF deals aim to boost south-side industrial buildings, job creation
Serta would get bonus for creating, keeping 100 new jobs


The city of Janesville has galvanized three big-ticket tax incentive deals aimed at landing new manufacturing space and keeping one local bedding manufacturer’s operations in Rock County.

On Monday, the Janesville City Council, in its final meeting before reorganizing after the April 5 election, breezed through approval of three related tax-increment financing deals that would total $4.7 million in land, loans and job creation incentives in a plan to bring 786,000 square feet of warehousing and manufacturing space to the city’s south end.

The council with little discussion unanimously approved the three-pack of TIF deals that would include two giveaways of city land at 200 Innovation Drive and loan packages to Milwaukee developer Zilber Property Group totaling $4.3 million.

The deals would push forward plans by Zilber to build two separate industrial buildings: one that would total 500,000 square feet and another that would total 286,000 square feet. By square footage, the deals Monday would likely make Zilber the biggest commercial player in industrial space on Janesville’s south end.

Under a third TIF deal, the council also unanimously approved a $389,000 job creation incentive that would be paid to Serta Simmons Bedding Manufacturing under a plan by the company to add 100 local workers over the next few years.

All three deals would be structured as “pay-as-you-go” agreements that would be paid out through increased tax value to the properties over a nine-year span.

The Serta Simmons deal requires it to create and retain 100 new full-time jobs over the deal’s nine-year term, which runs for the life of the south-side TIF district where the new Zilber projects would be located.

Serta Simmons operates two bedding manufacturing facilities in Rock County: one at 1809 Adel St., a factory building built in 1968 on Janesville’s south side, and another at 1500 Lee Lane in Beloit.

Simmons seeks to consolidate both its Janesville and Beloit operations into one space. According to a city memo, the company is in negotiations with Zilber to do so in the 500,000 square-foot building it would build through the TIF deal.

The city said Zilber plans to build the 286,000-square-foot building on speculation, as the company has for the more than 500,000 square feet in Janesville over the past five years.

Most recently, the city awarded a $471,000 pay-as-you-go tax incentive deal for Rockford, Illinois-based pet treats maker Phelps Pet Products to move into a different property built and owned by Zilber—a 178,000-square-foot industrial space at 400 W. Venture Drive.

That deal would award Phelps if it maintains a certain number of family-supporting jobs, the threshold for which the city calculates at a pay rate of $20.82 per hour for a family of four.

The job creation formula used for the Serta Simmons deal reached Monday is based on a calculation of “living-wage” jobs that pay at least $20 an hour, city officials said.

Redevelopment Resources, a third-party Madison consultant the city has hired for economic development projects earlier this year, worked on the deal on behalf of the city.

Obituaries and death notices for April 12, 2022

Robert J. “Bob” Fairclough

Andrew John Hallmark

Phillip L. Hendrickson Sr.

Nora Kreher McManus

Paul W. Marx

James Edwin “Jim” Nipple

Karen E. (Martin) O’Donnell

Sally A. Palmer

Loletta “Leta” Peck

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Milton School District
Milton School District to adopt new ‘rigorous’ curriculum for grades K-8
'Wonders,' 'Wit and Wisdom' coming in 2022-23 school year

After two years of piloting multiple elementary language arts curriculums, the Milton School District has settled on two that staff members believe add academic rigor.

The Milton School District Board of Education unanimously approved the use of two separate language arts curriculums during its meeting Monday, April 11. Starting in the 2022-23 school year, district students in kindergarten through third grade will learn the “Wonders” curriculum from McGraw-Hill, and its students in grades four through eight will learn “Wit and Wisdom” from curriculum developer Greater Minds.

District administration settled on the two curriculums after undertaking a pilot that also included myView and StudySync as options, district director of curriculum and instruction Ryan Ruggles told the board. Ruggles said middle school teachers thought the Wit and Wisdom curriculum increased the comprehension of the material being taught in classrooms despite the pilot process starting off as overwhelming.

“What we heard overwhelmingly from that middle level is that it really raised the rigor within their classrooms,” he said. “I think that was one thing that really pushed us over the top.”

Milton High School will be piloting StudySync as a new curriculum in the later part of this year, Ruggles said.

The district has used Units of Study for Writing for its K-8 language arts curriculum in past years, but it did not have a districtwide official reading or language arts source, district public information officer Kari Klebba wrote in an email to The Gazette after the meeting.

Wonders is a K-5 language arts program that encourages students to build knowledge and literacy through exploring different time periods and cultures by focusing on five pillars that include phonics, vocabulary and comprehension, McGraw-Hill’s website states. The curriculum has students writing on a daily basis, the website adds.

Wit and Wisdom is a K-8 curriculum that provides “a framework for inquiry” by focusing on developing language arts skills through four modules throughout the academic year, according to the curriculum’s website. Those modules center on a topic or a theme such as the American Revolution, the Great Depression or poetry, while strategically having students revisit core knowledge areas as they work through the curriculum.

Wit and Wisdom strives to include books in the curriculum that represent diverse perspectives but does not teach critical race theory, the curriculum’s website states. Critical race theory is a college-level legal framework theory that examines the effects of certain U.S. laws on groups that have historically been marginalized and is not included in the state Department of Public Instruction’s curriculum standards.

The district launched the pilot program during the 2021-22 school year and selected two programs to test at each grade level, a memo from administrators to the board in the agenda packet states. The cost to implement the curriculum with six years’ worth of materials and a year of professional development for staff to teach it will total $600,000, with funding coming out of the district’s second and third allocation of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

The stimulus funds given to schools were meant to help close gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other requirements.

Board member Dave Holterman asked whether the recommended curriculums allowed for teachers to have any flexibility within their individual teaching styles in the classrooms or if it just served as a broad framework for teachers to work within.

Ruggles responded that the district wants all students to receive the same experience regardless of which school they’re enrolled in throughout the district and that having a curriculum across all schools allows teachers to meet that standard.

“There’s a balance between the art and science of teaching,” Ruggles said. “We want the common experience for all of our kids K-12, and with that common experience comes our PLCs being able to look at how kids are doing in each classroom and figure out what’s working and what’s not.”