01STOCK_JANESVILLE_SCHOOLDISTRICT

JANESVILLE

Janesville School District officials are estimating K-12 enrollment will be 503 fewer students next fall than they estimated last year at this time.

The effect will be 10.8 fewer teaching positions, which means an estimated budget savings of $897,861, Assistant Superintendent Scott Garner told the school board Tuesday night.

The board approved the annual staffing plan on a 9-0 vote.

Dale Thompson, who was serving at his last board meeting, noted that the district budget still will have to pay increased costs of salaries and benefits and other as-yet unknown costs, “so we’re not flush with money by any stretch of the imagination.”

Garner agreed.

Another factor is annual state aid, which is based in large part on the number of students, so a drop in enrollment means less aid, board member Cathy Myers said.

Garner said he expects retirements and resignations will cover the loss of teachers. He expects no layoffs.

Garner said he normally would have requested a contingency fund of $240,000 so he could hire elementary school teachers and aides if the enrollment estimates are wrong. But this year, he has an option.

He asked the board to let him use some of the federal COVID-19 assistance known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to act as the contingency fund. The board agreed.

The district might well have to use some of that money. Garner said he is tracking 16 elementary school “hot spots,” where classes are near the board-policy maximum. The K-3 maximum class size, for example, is 25. If enrollment rises, extra classes might have to be added.

The staffing plan includes estimated decreases of 240 students in the elementary schools, 134 in the middle schools and 129 at the high schools.

One of the biggest changes is in kindergarten, which is estimated to be down 117 students from last year’s estimate, based on kindergarten sign-ups and placements.

Total K-12 enrollment is projected to be 8,267, down from last year’s estimate of 8,770.

The proposed plan calls for nine fewer elementary classroom teachers, 0.5 more elementary art, music or physical education teachers and 5.25 fewer middle school teachers.

High school teachers will increase by 4.05. Garner said the plan is to keep some high school classes even though sign-ups are too low. That’s because those classes will keep students on track to finish certifications or sequences that will help them in college, Garner said.

In addition to the 10.8 teachers mentioned above, special-education teachers will decrease by three, and Title 1 teachers will decrease by 0.4. The district counts those separately because their funding is federal.

Aides, clerks and administrative assistant staffing at schools also will drop.

In other business, the board approved a 2021-22 contract for Superintendent Steve Pophal, who will earn $197,650, a 2.5% increase.

The memo recommending the raise cited Pophal’s leadership of staff over the difficult pandemic year. There was no discussion as the board approved the raise. Board members had discussed the raise in a meeting closed to the public.

Teacher Laura Mattison addressed the board, saying teachers, custodians, nurses, aides and other workers also made extra efforts during the pandemic.

“Every SDJ (School District of Janesville) employee has done more this year than before. Everyone adapted and worked to create the best education for our students. When is the SDJ going to compensate, not just Superintendent Pophal but the rest of the staff for their ‘Herculean efforts,’ as mentioned in the memo?” Mattison asked.

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