I'm running for school board because I am passionate about public education. I think it improves everything. You don't go into the biz of teaching if you don't believe in it and I've been at it for 19 years. The potential for the Janesville district is great. It just needs someone who knows something about how schools operate and how policy affects the classroom and impacts children and families. As a teacher, I have a solid grasp on those things and that's why I'm asking for your vote on April 2nd.
Here's a list of some things (in no particular order) I think need to be tackled based on the conversations I've had at the doors and on the phones:
- The SBJ needs to do a better job of communicating with parents and the community. I know that Dr. Schulte has a blog to address issues and squelch rumors and I think that's a good idea. But effective communication also involves trust, and trust is fostered in face-to-face conversations. We need to have more opportunities for the public to talk to the administration and the board, and not just in the public comment period of a meeting, but in more casual environments as well.
- The SBJ needs to bring all stakeholders to the table concerning the handbook. One parent I spoke to said, "working conditions are also educational conditions" and if working conditions are inadequate, then her child's education will be affected. I know the SBJ feels that teachers should not be concerned about the handbook, but they are. So they need to meet that concern and include them its development. It goes back to trust - again. And trust is developed by inclusion. If the handbook is nothing to be feared, as the SBJ says, then they should not fear teachers being a part of its creation.
- The SBJ needs to hire more counselors. I talked with a Janesville counselor just last week and was shocked to hear that they have over 800 students on their roster. Counselors are instrumental in making sure students are passing classes and getting credits toward graduation; they deal with the emotional needs of the students; they guide students through the transition from school to school and then school to work or college. There is no way that they can meet the needs of that many students. It's a real problem.
- There needs to be opportunities for the para professionals to get more training. I spoke with a para from the district yesterday who would like to have more opportunities to learn about students with disabilities and other things that affect her job. There is training available for the staff, but it's not always encouraged for the paras in the district. These people are involved with some of our more challenging students and difficult learning situations and they want to do their jobs well and be compensated for their training. If the SBJ is interested in incentives for administrators and faculty, it should be interested in incentives for these folks, too.
- The SBJ needs to hire a grant writer/administrator. This was the suggestion of one of the incumbents who also happens to be a grant writer. It's a good idea and long overdue. I happened to talk about this very issue with my superintendent in December. There is a lot of money out there and the SBJ needs to find someone who knows how to write grants to go get it. Earning grants will help alleviate some of the budget problems of the district and encourage innovation.
Follow this blog for more thoughts coming later. Feel free to contact me if there's something you want to discuss about me or the SBJ. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 608-718-0254.