Thursday, April 10, 2014

Common School Fund Check Presentation Part Two

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, State Treasurer Kurt Schuller, Secretary of State Doug LaFollette and DPI Assistant State Superintendent for Libraries and Technology Kurt Kiefer.
Today the three members of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands officially presented the $30,200,000 check for library aid to the Department of Public Instruction.  The Common School Fund is the main source of funding for school libraries.  The distribution per student is approximately $24.95, which is 24 cents higher than last year.

The Department of Public Instruction released this statement which includes disbursement amounts by school district.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April is National School Library Month!

April is National School Library Month! The 2014 theme is Lives Change @ Your Library. 

To commemorate School Library Month, State Superintendent Tony Evers released an editorial about the benefits of school and community libraries. Evers has the following to say about school libraries:

Later, our school libraries continue to help us engage and learn – not just by providing access to books and technology, but also because our teacher librarians have expert training in the best ways to use these resources – a good reason to celebrate School Library Month this April, too.
The American Association of School Librarians has compiled several resources for celebrating National School Library Month, including two Public Service Announcements from author Jeff Kinney on the importance of school libraries.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Legislature Adjourns for the 2013-14 Regular Session

The legislative session came to a close Tuesday evening as the Senate adjourned for the 2013-14 regular legislative session. The Assembly previously adjourned on March 20.  Any bill that did not pass both houses of the legislature this session is now considered "dead."

There is speculation that the legislature may meet in special session this summer to consider new voter ID legislation if the State Supreme Court strikes down the current law.  In the meantime, legislators will begin campaigning for the 2014 election.

The following offices are up for re-election in November 2014:
  • The Governor and Lieutenant Governor
  • Every State Representative
  • State Senators from odd-numbered districts
  • The State Treasurer, Attorney General and Secretary of State
  • Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Several legislative highlights from the 2013-14 session include:

Failed to Pass

Deleting the State Treasurer: Assembly JointResolution 48 deletes the state treasurer from the state constitution and replaces the office with the Lieutenant Governor on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. The Assembly passed AJR 48 in early February and the Senate Committee on Government Operation, Public Works and Telecommunications held a hearing on AJR 48 on February 19 and voted to pass the measure on a party-line vote. However, the resolution failed to pass the full Senate before session adjourned. Representative Schraa, the bill's author, released the following statement on AJR 48's failure to pass this session and vowed to try again during the 2015-16 session.

Deleting the Secretary of State: Assembly Joint Resolution 85 eliminates the secretary of state from the constitution and replaces the office with the state superintendent of public instruction on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.  No action was taken on AJR 85 this session, and Representative Schraa, the bill's author, says that he also plans to address this proposal during the 2015-16 session since he ran out of time during the 2013-14 session.

Cyber-Bullying: Senate Bill 184 /Assembly Bill 434 requires that the Department of Public Instruction's model policy for bullying include cyber-bullying and appropriate responses to bullying that occurs off school grounds. The bill also makes it illegal for a person to post a threatening or obscene message where others can view it on the internet if the intent is to harass, annoy, intimidate or offend someone. In addition, a  school district official would be required to report serious bullying incidents to a law enforcement agency.   The Senate version unanimously passed out of the Committee on Education last October but was not taken up by the Senate, and no action was taken on the Assembly version.

Common Core/ Academic Standards: Senate Bill 619 and a substitute amendment to Assembly Bill 617 would have created a Model Academic Standards Board charged with creating new state standards in English, science, math and social studies to replace the Common Core standards.  The board would be comprised of members chosen by the Governor, state superintendent of public instruction and the majority and minority leaders in both houses of the legislature.  The Assembly version was scheduled to be voted on in committee in February but the vote was postponed, and the Senate version received a  public hearing on March 6 but was never voted out of committee. 

Student Data: Assembly Bill 618 creates a number of restrictions on the collection and sharing of student data by DPI.  It also increases transparency on what types of data are being collected.  The bill was passed by the Assembly in February on a party line vote, but was never approved by the Senate.

Technology Education Grants: Representative Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) is circulating a bill for co-sponsorship to create three education technology grant programs to be administered by the Department of Administration (DOA). The draft bill would also requires the Department of Public Instruction to create and operate a program known as the Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative to provide digital learning resources to public schools, charter schools and private schools as well as CESAs and public libraries. Under the draft bill, DOA may also provide a subsidy to an educational agency that obtains broadband services from a provider who is not participating in the TEACH program if the educational agency does not have physical access to a data line or video link provided under the TEACH program. A bill was not formally introduced before the legislature adjourned.

Approved by Both Houses of the Legislature

180 Day Requirement: Senate Bill 589 /Assembly Bill 749 eliminate the 180 day requirement for a school year and instead bases eligibility for funding from DPI solely on hours of direct pupil instruction.  The bill also allows schools to receive state aid for a portion of summer class enrollment and interim session enrollment and funding for online courses taken during the summer by 7th and 8th graders. SB 589 was unanimously approved by both the Assembly and Senate. It now goes to the Governor for his signature.

Internet Account Privacy: Assembly Bill 218 /Senate Bill 223 protects the privacy of personal internet accounts by prohibiting employers, educational institutions or landlords from requesting the password for, or viewing personal internet accounts of applicants or employees unless available on a public domain or accessed on a device paid for by the employer, educational institution or landlord.  The Senate approved the SB 223 in November and the Assembly passed it in January.  It now awaits the Governor's signature.

School Accountability:  During the final Assembly floor session, Representative Steineke (R-Kaukauna) announced that he and Senator Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) had reached an agreement on the proposed school accountability legislation. Representative Steineke agreed to forgo his amendment that would have created sanctions for poor performing schools and instead pass a clean version of Senate Bill 286--a  minor school accountability bill authored by Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), which made it through the Senate in February and requires choice and charter schools to report student data beginning in the 2015-16 school year.  Steineke officially withdrew his amendment during floor debate and the Assembly unanimously passed SB 286; it now goes to the Governor for his signature.

 Steineke and Farrow wrote a letter to Governor Walker telling him they will convene a working group upon adjournment of the 2013-14 legislative session to craft a comprehensive school accountability bill that they hope to pass during the 2015-16 session. According to the letter, the working group will:
  • ·        Build a more comprehensive school report card
  • ·         Develop a formula to determine proper weighting of the Report Card System
  • ·         Develop a series of sanctions for schools that fail to meet expectations
  • ·         Develop a series of incentives for schools that exceed expectations
  • Develop a process for schools to interact and share best practices