By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President
When I visited Janesville Parker High School and sat down with Dave Groth, President of the Janesville Education Association, we talked largely about the goals set by the JEA. Dave discussed how the JEA has worked systematically to achieve its goals over the past few years. It’s clear that WEAC’s strong local affiliates establish goals for the school year and long-term goals for the next few years; they put plans in motion for attaining those goals and then evaluate their progress. The Janesville Education Association has been making excellent progress toward meeting its goals.
First, Dave mentioned the new salary schedule that they put into place for this year which removed merit-based pay attached to the Educator Effectiveness evaluation system. “Our new salary schedule is based on professional development hours and years of experience in the district instead of a merit system,” Dave said. He highlighted how this salary schedule was developed with the input of the JEA and how he worked with administration to be a part of the district’s five listening sessions where these changes were shared with teachers.
Dave outlined some of the changes in the salary schedule, including a starting salary of $42,000 and movement in the first two years to put educators’ pay at $46,000. “It is important to attract new people to our school district, but we also want to retain them with a faster progression through the salary schedule,” he said. Now, Janesville teachers can move through their salary schedule with professional development hours or credits taken through an accredited college or university.
Another victory in the pocketbooks of teachers in Janesville is that the JEA has been able to hold the line on insurance costs. For the upcoming school year, there will be no changes in insurance costs.
Another major goal of the Janesville Education Association over the past three years was to elect education-friendly candidates to the local school board. Currently, 8 out of 9 members on the school board were endorsed by the JEA.
When I asked him about advice to other locals, Dave said, “Your key is school board elections. We have been able to develop a trusting relationship with our school board members and our district administration. When things happen in the district, our voice is at the table, and we are providing input.” It’s obvious that this has been very important to all educators, students, and families in the Janesville community.
The Janesville EA has other goals that it is working toward. Dave mentioned work that needs to happen on retirement benefits and the association’s continued efforts on maintaining relationships. But, the JEA remains focused and redirects its energy on making positive changes that matter. Dave indicated that the role of the JEA has always been one of helping and assisting. The Janesville Education Association helps students every day, helps members and potential members with their professional needs, and helps administrators with challenging situations. The JEA continues to be a strong voice and strong advocate for students, the community, and the education profession; it is another example of a WEAC Strong Local Affiliate.
Dave pointed out, “While we don’t have the leverage we once did, creating a friendlier environment that is working in the spirit of cooperation is making a difference for us.”
Read all of Peggy’s ‘Spotlight On Locals’ columns at weac.org/Spotlight.