Thumbs down to school district’s communication. We learned Thursday some details from the deal struck with soon-to-be-former Marshall Middle School Principal Synthia Taylor, who's pursuing her doctoral degree while on paid leave. Among the details: She tendered her resignation Dec. 12. That’s something Janesville School District officials failed to mention when interviewed repeatedly by The Gazette for a Jan. 21 story about Taylor’s paid leave. And based on a line in Taylor’s severance agreement that the school district “solicited” her resignation and “her resignation was not voluntary,” we suspect there’s still more to the story. We wish the school district would figure out a way to communicate it.

Thumbs down to blaming city of Janesville for bank closing. News of BMO Harris Bank planning to close its south-side branch sparked an uproar on social media last week, with some people blaming the local government. This calls for another lesson in how the world works: Janesville is not like a Monopoly board with the local government rolling the dice and buying Marvin Gardens and opening a bank there. Yes, Janesville officials have some control through zoning and permitting authority, but city officials cannot force businesses to move to a particular site or prevent them from closing. The south side's deteriorating economic condition has more to do with the General Motors plant closing in 2009 than the local government.

Thumbs up to St. Mary's fundraising prowess. The school responded to plans to close its middle school by raising more than $100,000 to keep it open. Call it a minor miracle or a major blessing, the outpouring of support probably didn't surprise the school's students and alumni. Many families whose children attend Catholic schools, including at St. William and St. John Vianney, consider their school communities irreplaceable. The closure of St. Patrick's school last year deeply affected the Catholic community, and St. Mary supporters responded with urgency in raising the necessary funds to stay open. But these families know their job isn't done: The financial challenges facing public schools also loom over private ones, and it will take a great deal of families' passion and faith to keep these schools open in the years to come.

Thumbs up to Milton East Elementary School staff. Somebody had to orchestrate and keep secret the surprise return last week of Myles Jorgensen, whose mom is a teacher's aide at the school. Jorgensen had been deployed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and showed up at a school assembly dressed as Milton's mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk. He shocked his mom, Toni Jorgensen, when he pulled off the mascot's head to reveal his identity. Toni said she thought the assembly's timing and the mascot's presence unusual, and so staff had to take care not to tip her off to her son's return before his big moment. The staff succeeded and put on a demonstration of familial love for all students to witness.

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