Thursday, May 23, 2019

Joint Finance Committee Passes Education Budget, Restores 1:1 Grant Funding


The Joint Finance Committee just voted 11-4 along party-lines to pass the Republican-authored K-12 education plan which (among many other things) fully funds the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant program at $9.2 million in each year of the budget. Governor Evers’ budget would have eliminated funding for the program in the second year of the biennium.

Other items of interest to WEMTA in the motion passed by the Joint Finance Committee include:

·         Overall Education Funding: Total increase in K-12 public education funding of $500 million for the two-year budget period. Under the Governor’s proposal, funding would have increased by $1.4 billion.  

·         Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program: Fully funded at $9.2 million per year. Funding for the program would have ended in 2020 under the Governor’s proposal.

·         Common School Fund Re-estimate: Re-estimates school library aids (Common School Fund distribution) from $37 million per year to $37.9 million in 2019-20 and $38.8 million in 2020-21. It is important to note that this does not reflect additional funding being provided by the Legislature. It reflects updated projections on what the anticipated Common School Fund distributions will be during the biennium and could change.

·         BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind: Increases funding by $345,800 in 2020-21 to increase funding for the contracts with the BadgerLink Vendors and to maintain the current level of services through Newsline for the Blind. This approves the Governor's proposal. 

·         Library Service Contracts: Increases funding by $133,200 in 2019-20 and $168,100 in 2020-21 to fully fund the cost of statutorily-required library service contracts for resources of specialized library materials and other information. The four service providers are: Milwaukee Public Library, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. This approves the Governor's proposal. 

·         Information Technology Education Grant:  Maintains yearly funding of $875,000 per year for the Information Technology Education Grant. These funds are currently awarded to Microsoft IT Academy. Funding for the program would have ended the Governor’s proposal.

·         Public Library System Aid: Increases public library system aid by $1 million per year. The Governor had proposed a $2.5 million increase in the first year of the budget and a $4 million increase in the second year of the budget. 

·         Wisconsin Reading Corps: Provides $700,000 per year for the Wisconsin Reading Corps (an AmeriCorps program that provides on-on-one literacy tutoring.)This program was set to end in 2018-19 but this continues the program into future years.

·         Rural Teach Talent Pilot Program: Increases funding by $1 million per year. The program awards grants to CESAs to coordinate with universities and colleges to provide practicums, student-teacher placement and internships for college students in rural areas.






Friday, May 17, 2019

Ask the Joint Finance Committee to Save the Personal Electronic Computing Device Grant Program!


The Joint Finance Committee is voting next Thursday, May 23 on Governor Evers' proposal to eliminate the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program after the 2019-20 school year.

WEMTA opposes the elimination of this grant program, which provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training. Every Wisconsin school or school district is eligible to receive $125 per 9th grade student.

If you are concerned, contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to oppose the elimination of the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant Program!

Ask your legislator to support Alternative 1B in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #576

Talking Points:
·        All Wisconsin Schools are eligible for funding under the program--Public school districts, independent charter schools, private schools, and tribal schools.

·        These grants make is possible for schools to effectively incorporate personal electronic computing devices into a classroom and into a high school curriculum.

·        These funds can also be used for software, curriculum, and professional development related to personal computing devices, so even those districts or schools that already have such devices can benefit from these funds.

How to Contact Your Legislators:
The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
· Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
· E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.




Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Joint Finance Committee Signs Off on Governor's Proposal To Eliminate TEACH Training Grants


The Joint Finance Committee voted 11-3 along party-lines on Tuesday to approve many of the Governor's proposed state budget recommendations related to the TEACH program. This includes:


  • Extending the TEACH IT Infrastructure Grants through June 30, 2021 but reducing the funding to $3 million per year.
  • Eliminating the TEACH Education Technology Training Grants, which currently provide $1.5 million in funding per year to rural schools.
  • Deleting the Curriculum Grant Program, which provides funding to schools for technology-enhanced curriculum.

  • Democrats on the Committee offered their own motion, which failed on a party-line vote of 3-11, which also proposed eliminating the TEACH Education Technology Grant and Curriculum Grant programs but would have modified the application process for the TEACH infrastructure grants.

    The budget must be approved by the full legislature and signed into law by the Governor before these changes can take effect.


    Monday, May 13, 2019

    Save the TEACH Grants: Contact your State Senator and State Representative TODAY



    The Joint Finance Committee votes TOMORROW on on Governor Evers' proposal to:

    1) Eliminate the TEACH Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants 
    2) Transfer $24 million in federal e-rate funding meant for schools and libraries to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 
    3) Continue TEACH Infrastructure grants until 2021 but reduce funding from $7.5 million to $3 million per year 

    Contact your state senator and state representative before Tuesday at 9 a.m. and ask them to reject the Governor's proposals to cut critical ed-tech grant funding!

    Ask your legislator to support Alternatives B1, B4, D2 and E2  in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #102

    Talking Points:
    • Oppose the elimination of the TEACH  Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to  rural school districts to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. During 2018, 201 rural school districts received funding from this grant program, enabling hundreds of Wisconsin teachers to receive educational technology training. It’s critical that educators receive the professional learning opportunities they need to choose and integrate quality online resources and tools into the classroom

    • Oppose the transfer of $24 million in federal e-rate funds, which are meant to support telecommunications services for schools and libraries, to the Broadband Expansion Grant program. E-rate funds should continue to support schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

    • Support the continuation of the TEACH Infrastructure Grants and maintain full funding of $7.5 million per year. These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. In 2017-18, approximately 250 school districts received TEACH Infrastructure grants. 

    How to Contact Your Legislators:
    The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
    · Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
    · E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.





    Friday, May 10, 2019

    Ask Your State Legislators to Save the TEACH Grants!


    The Joint Finance Committee is voting next Tuesday, May 14 on Governor Evers' proposal to:

    1) Eliminate the TEACH Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants 
    2) Transfer $24 million in federal e-rate funding meant for schools and libraries to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 
    3) Continue TEACH Infrastructure grants until 2021 but reduce funding from $7.5 million to $3 million per year 

    Contact your state senator and state representative before Tuesday at 9 a.m. and ask them to reject the Governor's proposals to cut critical ed-tech grant funding!

    Ask your legislator to support Alternatives B1, B4, D2 and E2  in Legislative Fiscal Bureau Paper #102

    Talking Points:
    • Oppose the elimination of the TEACH  Educational Technology Training and Curriculum Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to  rural school districts to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. During 2018, 201 rural school districts received funding from this grant program, enabling hundreds of Wisconsin teachers to receive educational technology training. It’s critical that educators receive the professional learning opportunities they need to choose and integrate quality online resources and tools into the classroom

    • Oppose the transfer of $24 million in federal e-rate funds, which are meant to support telecommunications services for schools and libraries, to the Broadband Expansion Grant program. E-rate funds should continue to support schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.

    • Support the continuation of the TEACH Infrastructure Grants and maintain full funding of $7.5 million per year. These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. In 2017-18, approximately 250 school districts received TEACH Infrastructure grants. 

    How to Contact Your Legislators:
    The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators! Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.
    · Phone. You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.
    · E-mail. The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.

    Thursday, May 9, 2019

    JFC Removes 131 Items from State Budget, Declines to Restore State Funding for Media Lab


    The Joint Finance Committee held their first day of voting on the state budget bill today. They voted 11-4 along party-lines to remove 131 items from Governor Evers’ budget. 

    The Committee also took action on the Educational Communications Board (ECB) budget. Democratic lawmakers on the Committee made a motion to support Governor Evers' proposal to restore state funding for the Media Lab run by ECB. This motion failed on a party-line vote on 4-10. As a result, Media Lab will continue to be funded through program revenue (gifts, grants, etc.). 

    The following items of interest to WEMTA were removed from budget consideration today:
    ·         Allowing retired teachers to be re-hired without losing their annuity
    ·         Returning the deposit of settlement funds to the Attorney General’s office rather than the general fund
    ·         Paid planning time for teachers
    ·         The state broadband access goal and broadband report requirements
    ·         Funding and staff increases for the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    Joint Finance Committee and Gov. Evers Schedule Public Hearings on the State Budget


    Both the Joint Finance Committee and Governor Evers announced this week that they are holding public hearings on the proposed 2019-21 state budget (full schedules listed below). These are the only public hearings that will be held on the proposed state budget. The Joint Finance Committee uses feedback received at the public hearings to help them decide which items to keep, modify or remove from the budget. 
    If you have never testified at a budget hearing before, you can use this tool kit to help you prepare your testimony and to let you know what to expect on the day of the hearing. 
    You can also check out this list of in-district listening sessions to see if there are opportunities to meet with your own state senator and state representative. 
    The following educational technology items are included in Governor Evers' proposed 2019-21 state budget:   

    • Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to eligible rural school districts and libraries to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology.
    • Eliminates the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program after the 2019-20 school year. This grant program provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training.
    • Restores state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Media Lab funds support Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. State funding was eliminated for this programming in the 2015-17 state budget. 
    • Extends the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure Block Grant program until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year.These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. Eligible purchases include: portable devices/hotspots, routers, access points, cabling, firewall services and other items. 


    2019-21 State Budget Public Hearing Schedule  
    Friday, April 5, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    Pontiac Convention Center
    2809 North Pontiac Drive
    Janesville, WI 53545

    Wednesday, April 10, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    Oak Creek Community Center
    8580 South Howell Avenue
    Oak Creek, WI 53154

    Monday, April 15, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin – River Falls
    University Center – Riverview Ballroom #260
    500 Wild Rose Avenue
    River Falls, WI 54022
    Free Public Parking Accessible at: PAY 1 LOT, North Second Street, River Falls, WI 54022

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
    University Union - Phoenix Rooms
    2430 Campus Court
    Green Bay, WI 54311

    Governor Evers’ Public Hearing on the State Budget
    Wednesday, April 3  (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., doors open at 5:15 p.m.)
    University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point,
    Laird Room, Dreyfus Center,
    1015 Reserve Street, Stevens Point, WI 54481