Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Assembly Majority Leader Holding Listening Sessions

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) is holding five in-district listening sessions this month. His district includes portions of Outagamie and Brown counties.

Monday, November 27, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Village of Nichols Community Center
N9065 Krull Rd. Nichols, WI 

Tuesday, November 28, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Town of Vandenbrock Town Hall
W2030 City Rd. JJ, Kaukauna, WI

Wednesday, November 29, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Town of Osborn Town Hall
W3389 County Rd. EE, Seymour, WI 

Thursday, November 30, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Town of Ellington
N3802 WI-76, Hortonville, WI 

Friday, December 1, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Village of Howard Community Center 
2456 Glendale Ave., Howard, WI 

Friday, October 27, 2017

WEMTA Members Meet With Lt. Governor and Governor Walker's Staff

Left to Right: Janet Vraney, Amy Pugh, Michele Green, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Michael Blumenfeld


WEMTA representatives Janet Vraney, Amy Pugh and Michele Green and WEMTA's lobbyist Michael Blumenfeld traveled to Madison on Wednesday to meet with Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Governor Walker's education policy staff. They spoke about WEMTA's legislative agenda and how school libraries help students gain 21st Century Skills.

Consider inviting your elected officials to visit your school for events like Battle of the Books and Hour of Code.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Governor Walker Signs Budget into Law

Governor Walker officially signed the 2017-19 state budget into law Thursday afternoon at an elementary school in Neenah, Wisconsin.

The two-year spending plans includes a $639 million increase to K-12 education, one of the largest in state history, which Governor Walker touted heavily in his speech.

It also creates a new grant program for schools to purchase one-to-one devices for 9th grade students; increases public library system aid; and provides more funding for broadband and TEACH grants.

Governor Walker did veto several provisions that WEMTA has also been following, including increased funding for low-spending school districts. Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren publicly criticized the Governor’s decision to veto that provision, which would  have gradually increased the revenue limit for historically low-spending school districts, saying “as a result, over 200 school districts across the state will lose over $90 million in funding over the next 6 years.” Nygren characterized it as a funding inequity which he said “has existed for over 20 years and under this budget will continue to do so.” Governor Walker said he vetoed the provision because “the result is a substantial increase in property tax capacity that school districts may exercise without voter input.”

The Governor also vetoed two new grant programs created by the Joint Finance Committee that would have provided increased funding for schools that into Whole Grade Sharing or Shared Services arrangements. Walker says, he hopes the funding that had been appropriated for these items (about $2.75 million) can be used instead "to support more effective programs that support rural schools." 

Here are the provisions of interest that Governor Walker vetoed either in whole or in part. 

Low Revenue Adjustment-VETOED in FULL

This section increases the low revenue adjustment for school districts from $9,100 under current
law to $9,300 in fiscal year 2017-18; $9,400 in fiscal year 2018-19; $9,500 in fiscal year
2019-20; $9,600 in fiscal year 2020-21; $9,700 in fiscal year 2021-22; and $9,800 in fiscal year
2022-23 and each year thereafter.

I am vetoing this section entirely because the result is a substantial increase in property tax
capacity that school districts may exercise without voter input. In several school districts that
would be eligible to raise taxes under these sections, referenda to exceed revenue limits already
failed within the past two years. An increase in revenue authority from the state in these districts
would circumvent purposeful, local actions.

It should also be noted that in some cases, the same districts that would have become eligible to
increase their revenues with this adjustment have increased their base revenues at a rate higher
than the state average. This brings into question the need for this adjustment and highlights the
need for local taxpayer input before a revenue limit adjustment is made.

As a result of this veto, the low revenue adjustment level for school districts will remain at
$9,100. School districts across the state will benefit from other significant education investments
in this budget, including meaningful increases in per pupil aid. These per pupil increases are
equal among all school districts. In addition, school districts could pursue an increase in their
revenue limit through a referendum as is the case under current law. In fact, numerous districts
have already done so by asking taxpayers through a referendum. Increases to the low revenue
adjustment can be discussed in future state budgets.

School District Referenda Scheduling--VETOED IN PART

I am partially vetoing these provisions to eliminate the ability of school districts to conduct the
special elections to consider referenda as described above, but maintain the effective date of
January 1, 2018, for the limitations on referendum scheduling. School referenda should be
known and considered by the greatest number of voters possible, and limiting referenda to
regularly scheduled election days will further this principle.

Whole Grade Sharing Aid--VETOED IN FULL

These sections create a grant program in fiscal year 2018-19 for school districts to enter into a
whole grade sharing agreement. Grants of $150 per pupil enrolled in a shared grade would be
provided to school districts in the first four years of the agreement. In the fifth year, grants are
prorated to 50 percent. In addition, the Department of Public Instruction is required to provide a
report to the Joint Committee on Finance by February 1, 2019, regarding the number of grant
applicants, the number of approved whole grade sharing agreements, the names of participating
districts and the grades shared in each district, and how much of the appropriation is awarded or
encumbered.

I am vetoing these sections in their entirety to eliminate the grant program for whole grade
sharing and related reporting requirements. Whole grade sharing is intended to create savings,
which should be a built-in incentive; however, school districts have not taken advantage of whole
grade sharing since it became permissible under 2015 Wisconsin Act 55. Therefore, I believe
these funds can be repurposed to support more effective programs that support rural schools.

Shared Services Aid--VETOED in FULL

These sections create a grant program funded at $2,000,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 for school
districts that share administrative functions with local governments or other school districts.
Grants would be provided in the following amounts during the first three years of an agreement to
share services: $40,000 for sharing a district administrator; $22,500 for sharing a human
resources director, information technology coordinator or business manager; and $17,500 for
other administrative positions, excluding principals and assistant principals. In the fourth year,
grants are prorated to 50 percent, unless the parties to the agreement also are whole grade sharing.
I am vetoing these sections in their entirety to eliminate the grant program for shared services.
Sharing services will create savings for school districts; therefore, providing state grants would
nullify savings to taxpayers that would result from local actions. In addition, I believe these
funds can be repurposed to support more effective programs that support rural schools.

Summer School Grants--VETOED in PART 

This provision creates a grant program in fiscal year 2018-19 for the Milwaukee Public Schools
district and any other school district that receives a "fails to meet expectations" rating on its district report card.

These competitive grants are to be awarded to school districts to increase
attendance, improve low-performing schools, improve academic achievement and expose pupils
to innovative learning activities, all through development, redesign or implementation of a
summer school program.

I am partially vetoing this provision to create a grant to the Milwaukee Public Schools for
summer school programs. The program proposed in my Executive Budget was targeted to the
district to augment the Milwaukee Public Schools district's summer school expansion efforts. I
object to the expansion of eligibility because it will dilute the funding, and therefore
effectiveness, of the funds in the district. I also believe that language specifying outcomes is
unnecessary absent a competitive process, and would diminish the ability of a district to employ
the funds in the most effective way. As a result of this veto, the district will receive a grant of
$1,400,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 for summer school programs, and no other districts will be
eligible to apply for these funds.

Virtual Charter School Funding Study--VETOED in FULL 

This provision requires the Department of Public Instruction to submit a report by January 1,
2019, to the Joint Committee on Finance and appropriate standing legislative committees
comparing open enrollment payments and the actual costs of educating virtual charter school
pupils.

I am vetoing this provision to eliminate the report. I object to the increased administrative burden
on the department.


You can watch the official bill signing ceremony here: http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/11861

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Representative Hintz Elected Assembly Minority Leader

Assembly Democrats selected Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) to serve as their new Minority Leader this afternoon.

Hintz will replace Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) who announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from his leadership role on September 30.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) released a statement shortly after the vote congratulating Hintz. "His willingness to lead is commendable and I stand ready to work alongside him to advance those values shared between our caucuses," said Steineke.

Hintz currently serves on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee and will get to choose who replaces him on the Committee as part of his new role.

Monday, September 18, 2017

State Senate Passes State Budget; Governor Walker to Sign this Week

The State Senate voted 19-14 to pass the State Budget late Friday night. All Democrats voted against the proposal as did Senator David Craig (R-Big Bend).  “While this budget contains positive provisions like finally repealing the rest of our prevailing wage law, a reform I have long supported, it fails in its primary function – to appropriately limit the size, and thus the role, of government in our lives,” said Senator Craig in a statement about his decision to vote no.

Some last-minute negotiations between Governor Walker, who was in South Korea for a trade mission, and four Senate hold-outs resulted in several veto announcements being made on Friday afternoon in order to secure enough Republican votes to pass the budget.  Vetoes already agreed to by the Governor include: the tolling implementation study, prevailing wage law repeal start date, school referendum requirements and state capitol basement renovations.


Governor Walker signed the Fox Conn bill into law Monday afternoon and is expected to sign the budget bill into law within the next few days. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

State Assembly Passes Budget

The State Assembly voted 57-39 to pass the 2017-19 state budget late Wednesday evening. Every Democratic member of the Assembly voted against passage as did five Republicans--Representatives Allen, Brandtjen, Jarchow, Gannon, Sanfelippo. 

Democrats criticized the budget as being "rigged" in favor of the rich and ignoring the needs of working families. They also lambasted Republicans for failing to come up with a long-term transportation funding plan after months
of debate and for expanding the school choice program. 

Republicans brushed off criticism from Democrats and referred to many of their floor speeches and amendments as attempts to audition for the Assembly Minority Leader position being vacated by Representative Peter
Barca (D-Kenosha). They also highlighted the budget's significant investment in K-12 education funding, UW tuition freeze, reduced transportation bonding and lower property taxes. 

Prior to passing the budget, Assembly Republicans offered a six-page technical amendment <http://docs.legis.wi.gov/raw/proposal/2017/b0833which was adopted on a voice vote. 

The budget must now be approved by the State Senate, which is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Friday morning. However, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says he does not currently have the 17 votes needed to pass the bill in his house. It appears that the Senate hold-outs are concerned about the lack of reforms at the Department of Transportation and want to see the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program increased to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level and additional school
referendum reforms. Several lawmakers have also asked that the repeal of the prevailing wage law be moved up to January.

If the Senate adopts any amendments to the budget, it will need to go back
to the Assembly for approval. During his closing remarks, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that the Assembly had no plans to vote on the budget again and that their vote Wednesday night was final. Governor Walker has previously said he hopes to sign the budget into law by September 21.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Budget Comparison Document Released; Assembly Voting on Budget Wednesday

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau just released their comparative summary of the Governor’s budget recommendations to the Joint Finance Committee’s (JFC) actions: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/misc/lfb/budget/2017_19_biennal_budget/043_comparative_summary_of_budget_recommendations_governor_and_joint_committee_on_finance_entire_document_september_2017.pdf

The State Assembly is set to vote on the budget as passed by JFC on Wednesday of this week. It is unclear when the Senate will meet to vote on the budget because it is rumored that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald does not have enough votes in the Senate Republican Caucus to pass the budget at this time. 



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Joint Finance Committee Passes State Budget

The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 along party lines to approve the 2017-19 state budget on Wednesday evening. It must now be passed by both the Assembly and Senate before it can be signed into law to the Governor. It is already more than nine weeks past the June 30 statutory deadline to have a new budget signed into law.

Items of interest to WEMTA include:

K-12 Per Pupil Aid Increase: Increases per pupil payments from $250 per pupil in 2016-17 to $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 per pupil in 2018-19. However, not all of these new funding would carry forward into the next state budget. Per pupil aid would drop down to $630 per pupil in 2019-20. The Joint Finance Committee deleted the Governor’s recommendation that schools show that they are in compliance with Act 10 provisions related to health care costs in order to receive the new funding. Instead, the Committee voted to require districts to report annually to the state on health insurance costs for their employees.

Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants: The Committee adopted Speaker Vos’s proposal to create a new one-to-one device grant program. The motion provides $9.2 million in funding beginning in 2018-19 to fund grants for personal electronic computing devices. Eligible entities include: school boards, charter schools, the governing body of a private school or a tribal school. Grants would equal $125 per ninth grade student. Applicants would need to demonstrate that they will provide equal matching funds. Grants could be used for the following: purchasing personal electronic computing devices; purchasing software for the devices; purchasing curriculum that includes content that may be accessed on a personal electronic computing device; or train professional staff on how to effectively incorporate personal electronic devices into a classroom and into high school curriculum. The grant program would end in the 2022-23 school year.

Library Service Contracts: Provides an additional $10,300 over the budget biennium to fully fund the Library Service Contracts.

TEACH Grants: Provides an additional $6 million to the TEACH program. It continues the information technology block grant program until July 1, 2019, and expands the permitted uses of grants under the program to include providing mobile hotspots on buses and purchasing mobile hotspots for individuals to borrow from schools. In addition, the eligibility for these grants is expanded to include school districts that have up to 16 pupils per square mile. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that 278 school districts would meet this eligibility criteria.

Public Library Funding: Increases aid to public library systems by $1.5 million. The Joint Finance Committee also voted to delete the current law requirement that DPI include in its biennial budget submission a request for public library system aid equal to 13% of the prior year operating expenditures from local and county sources.

Information Technology Education: The Joint Finance Committee voted to provide $875,000 in funding in each year of the budget to contract with a single provider of information technology education for public schools students in grades 6-12, technical colleges students and library patrons. This was previously provided by Microsoft. The program would be required to provide instruction on information technology skills and competencies in areas requested by employers and allow participating students and educators to secure broad-based industry recognized information technology certifications. Programs would be required to operate in 225 sites, including 16 public libraries. The selected provider would need to demonstrate that they have successfully offered an information technology instructional program in schools in Wisconsin and developed an instructional program that includes all of the following: research-based and skill-development-based information technology curriculum; online access to the curriculum; instructional software for classroom and student use; coding curriculum and material that are aligned to the computer science advanced placement exam; certifications of skills and competencies in a broad base of information technology-related skill areas; professional development and co-teaching for faculty including but not limited to computer science; deployment and program support; methods for students to earn college credit; a demonstrated track record with schools in Wisconsin.

Broadband Expansion Grant Program: Makes changes to the Broadband Expansion Grant program. It removes the current $1.5 million yearly limit on broadband grants and provides additional funding for the grants. Specifically, the budget transfers $6 million from the Universal Service Fund to the broadband grant program; transfers $5 million in e-Rate funding (which helps schools and libraries obtain Internet access) to the broadband grant program; transfers all unspent Universal Service Fund dollars to the broadband grant program at the end of every fiscal year. A motion authored by Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) also requires the Public Service Commission to consider a potential broadband expansion grant’s impact on the ability of students to access educational opportunities from home. It also creates a new criteria that would give priority to unserved areas of the state.

Statewide Private School Choice Program: Increases the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 220% FPL. It is estimated that this change will result in 550 additional students participating in the program.

Eliminates Requirement to Renew Teacher Licenses: The Committee voted to modify the Governor’s proposal to grant lifetime teacher licenses. Instead, the Committee voted to require a provisional three-year license for new educators, administrators and pupil services professionals. A lifetime license would be granted after the completion of six semesters of successful experiences as certified by the school board. DPI would still be required to conduct background checks on behalf of MPS, independent charter schools and other school districts.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Senate Education Committee Passes Student Data Bills

The Senate Committee on Education voted 7-0 on Thursday to pass the two bills authored by the Legislative Council Study Committee on School Data. They can now be voted on by the full Senate.Both bills have already been passed by the full Assembly. Once passed by the Senate, Governor Walker can sign them into law.

Assembly Bill 71 requires DPI to maintain a list of each type of student data they collect and publish it on their website. Assembly Bill 72 requires the State Superintendent to provide guidance and training to schools on developing data privacy and security plans.

EXECUTIVE ACTION BY SENATE EDUCATION

AB-071 Pupil Data Inventory (Legislative Council) An inventory of pupil data. Passage recommended, 7-0.  

AB-072 Pupil Data Security (Legislative Council) Responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data. Passage recommended, 7-0.  

AB-280 Financial Literacy in Schools (Krug, Scott) Incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools. Passage recommended, 7-0.  

SB-301 Summer School Classes (Olsen, Luther) Summer school and interim session classes. Am. 1 adopted, 7-0.   Passage as amended recommended, 7-0.  


SB-299 Montessori Teaching License (Olsen, Luther) An initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher education program. Passage recommended, 7-0.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Senate Education Committee to Vote on Data Bills Thursday

The Senate Education Committee will vote on the two student data bills that we have been following using a paper ballot on Thursday, August 31. Both bills have already been passed by the State Assembly. If the Senate Education Committee approves the two bills, they can be scheduled for a vote by the full State Senate and then signed into law by the Governor.

Relating to: an inventory of pupil data.
By Joint Legislative Council.

Relating to: responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.
By Joint Legislative Council.


Monday, August 28, 2017

JFC Approves K-12 Education Plan

The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 to pass a K-12 education spending plan Monday night which includes $639 million in new funding for K-12 schools.  Lawmakers also voted to expand eligibility for the statewide school choice program as part of the plan and approve a new one-to-one device grant program for 9th graders. 

Republican legislators on the Committee heralded the plan as the largest increase to K-12 education funding in state history while Democratic members of the Committee argued that the increase was not adequate to make up for past funding cuts.

You can view the full plan approved by the Committee here. 

The Committee is close to wrapping up work on the state budget and will meet to take up transportation funding on September 5. Once the budget is approved by the Joint Finance Committee, it must be voted on by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Walker. 

WEMTA is interested in many of the items approved by JFC, including:

Per Pupil Aid Funding Increase: The Committee approved the Governor’s recommended per pupil funding increases, though the total funding amount is slightly lower than what the Governor proposed due to re-estimated enrollment projections. Per pupil aid payments will increase from $250 per student to $450 per student in 2017-18 and $654 per student in 2018-19. However, not all of the increased funding provided in the second year would be ongoing. The payment would be set at $630 per pupil in the 2019-20 budget year. The Committee also deleted Governor Walker’s proposal to tie the new per pupil funding to Act 10 compliance. Instead, the Committee’s plan requires schools to report annually on their  employee health care costs.

Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants: The Committee adopted Speaker Vos’s proposal to create a new one-to-one device grant program. The motion provides $9.2 million in funding beginning in 2018-19 to fund grants for personal electronic computing devices. Eligible entities include: school boards, charter schools, private schools or a tribal school. Grants would equal $125 per ninth grade student. Applicants would need to demonstrate that they will provide equal matching funds. Grants could be used for the following: purchasing personal electronic computing devices; purchasing software for the devices; purchasing curriculum that includes content that may be accessed on the devices; or training professional staff on how to effectively incorporate personal electronic devices into a classroom and into high school curriculum. The grant program would end in the 2022-23 school year.

Information Technology Education (IT Academy): The Committee voted to provides $875,000 in funding in each year of the budget to contract with a single provider of information technology education for public school students in grades 6-12, technical college students and library patrons.  The program would be required to provide instruction on information technology skills and competencies in areas requested by employers and allow participating students and educators to secure broad-based industry recognized information technology certifications. Programs would be required to operate in 225 sites, including 16 public libraries. The selected provider would need to demonstrate that they have successfully offered an information technology instructional program in schools in Wisconsin and developed an instructional program that includes all of the following: research-based and skill-development-based information technology curriculum; online access to the curriculum; instructional software for classroom and student use; coding curriculum and material that are aligned to the computer science advanced placement exam; certifications of skills and competencies in a broad base of information technology-related skill areas; professional development and co-teaching for faculty including but not limited to computer science; deployment and program support; methods for students to earn college credit; a demonstrated track record with schools in Wisconsin.Microsoft has previously provided services like this.

Public Library System Aid: The Committee voted to delete the current law requirement that DPI include in its biennial budget submission a request for public library system aid equal to 13% of the prior year operating expenditures from local and county sources. The Committee voted earlier this summer to increase aid to the public library system by $1.5 million.

Library Service Contracts: No motion was required on the Governor’s proposal to provide an additional $10,300 over the budget biennium to fully fund the Library Service Contracts. Since the Committee’s motion is silent on this item, the Governor’s proposal is considered approved.

Wisconsin Reading Corps: The Committee voted to provide $1 million over two years for the Wisconsin Reading Corps to provide on-on-one tutoring. The motion requires private matching funds of $250,000 per year.

Teacher Licensure Rulemaking Process: The Committee voted to require DPI to submit a rule to the Legislature by January 1, 2018 which simplifies the teacher licensure system as much as practicable. This could include: simplifying the grade levels licensees can teach and creating broad field subject licenses; enabling school districts to increase the number of teachers by offering internships and residency opportunities; simplifying out-of-state licensure reciprocity; expanding pathways for existing licenses.

Online Teacher Reciprocity: The Committee voted to allow individuals who are located in another state but teach online courses through virtual charter schools or public schools located in Wisconsin to be considered appropriately licensed in Wisconsin as long as they hold a license or permit to teach in their state of residence.

Alternative Teacher Preparation Program:  The Committee voted to require DPI to grant an initial teaching license to an individual who meets the following requirements: has a bachelor’s degree; has successfully completed an alternative teacher certification program operated by an alternative preparation program provider that is a non-profit organization and operates in at least five states, and that requires the candidate to pass a subject area exam and the Professional Teaching Knowledge exam; and successfully completes a background check.

Teacher Development Program: The Committee voted to modify the Governor’s recommendation by specifying that private schools or independent charter schools could apply for a grant under the program. An eligible teacher development program could be developed in partnership with any educator preparation program approved by DPI and headquartered in Wisconsin. The Committee’s motion also deletes the requirement that an individual hold a bachelor’s degree to enter a teacher development program.

Eliminate Expiration Dates for Teaching and Administrator Licenses: The Committee voted to modify the Governor’s proposal to grant lifetime teacher licenses. Instead, the Committee voted to require a provisional three-year license for new educators, administrators and pupil services professionals. A lifetime license would be granted after the completion of six semesters of successful experience as certified by the individual's school board. DPI would still be required to conduct background checks on behalf of MPS, independent charter schools and other school districts.

Virtual Charter School Funding Study: The Committee voted to require DPI to prepare a report comparing the amount paid by the state for pupils attending a virtual charter school through the open enrollment program to the actual educational costs of pupils attending those virtual charter schools. DPI must submit the report to the Joint Finance Committee by January 1, 2019.

Statewide Private School Choice Program—Expanded Eligibility: The Committee voted to increase the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level to 220% of the Federal Poverty Level. It is estimated that this change will result in an additional 550 students gaining eligibility.

Independent Charter School Authorizers:  The Committee voted to expand who can authorize charter schools in Wisconsin. The motion specifies that the Director of the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO), any UW Chancellor, and any technical college district board can contract with someone to operate an independent charter schools. The motion also eliminates the current law limit on the districts in which the OEO Director can authorize a charter school.

Rural School Teacher Talent Pilot Program: The Committee’s motion provides $500,000 annually for a new rural school teacher talent program that will provide grants to CESAs to coordinate with universities and colleges to provide practicums, student-teacher placement, and internships for undergraduate college students in rural school districts.

Shared Services Aid Program: The Committee’s motion provides $2 million in 2018-19 for a pilot program that would provide funding for school districts that share certain administrative positions, including district administrators, human resource directors, IT coordinators, business managers or other non-faculty administrative positions.

Whole Grade Sharing/Consolidation Aid: The Committee’s motion creates two new aid programs that provide additional per pupil funding to schools that enter into a whole grade sharing program or consolidate.

Scheduling of School District Referenda:  The Committee’s motion would limit school district referenda to regularly-scheduled election days (spring primary or election or partisan primary or general election) or the 2nd Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years. School districts would be limited to holding two referenda per year.

Sparsity Aid: The Committee rejected the Governor’s proposal to increase sparsity aid payments from $300 to $400 per pupil.This change would have resulted in about $9 million in additional funding in each year of the budget.Sparsity payments are made to small, rural school districts with less than 745 students and a population density of less than 10 students per square mile. Instead, the Committee’s motion says that any district that qualified for sparsity aid in one year but does not qualify the following year will receive 50% of its prior year award in the year in which they become ineligible for sparsity aid.

Low Revenue Adjustment Under Revenue Limits: The motion increases the revenue limit for low-spending schools from $9,100 per student to $9,300 per student in 2017-18, $9,400 per student in 2018-19 and an additional $100 per year through 2022-23 when revenue limits would be set at $9,800 per pupil.


Follow Along as JFC Votes on K-12 Funding

The Joint Finance Committee will vote on K-12 education funding this afternoon. The Committee is scheduled to begin voting at 1:30 p.m. but there are other agenda items they need to address, so it is likely that K-12 won't be taken up until later in the afternoon or even this evening.

You can live stream the Committee's deliberations on Wisconsin Eye: http://www.wiseye.org/Live

We will provide an update on what is approved at the end of the day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Joint Finance Committee Schedules Vote for K-12 Education Budget

The Joint Finance Committee will meet on Monday, August 28 to vote on the proposed K-12 education budget.

This includes Governor Walker’s plan to provide a $649 million increase to public, voucher and charter schools over the next two years. The Committee will also vote on several other items that are important to WEMTA, including library service contracts, Newsline for the Blind and a potential $9 million grant program to help schools provide one-to-one devices for 9th graders.

It has also been widely reported that there is consensus to increase the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program, though the exact amount of the increase is unknown at this time.

Once the committee votes on school funding, transportation funding will be the final big-ticket item for the panel.

A link to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau papers, which provide background on Governor Walker's proposals, is listed below:


Friday, August 18, 2017

Joint Finance Committee Schedules Budget Vote; Still No Final Plan for K-12

The Joint Finance Committee will meet for the first time since June on Thursday, August 24 to resume work on the state budget.  They plan to vote on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Natural Resources, State Public Defender, Department of Revenue and Department of Corrections.

That leaves K-12 education and transportation funding for a future vote.  The Department of Public Instruction sent a letter to the Joint Finance Committee on August 7 outlining important timelines for school funding. DPI says that the state budget would need to be signed into law by August 31 in order for DPI to make sparsity payments to schools and by October 3 for DPI to to run the October 15 General Aid Certification. 

Some rural schools have warned that they may have to resort to borrowing if aid payments aren't made on time. Other districts say the budget delay has led them to delay staffing or purchasing decisions.

Governor Walker stated earlier this week that he hopes to have the budget finalized by the end of summer, which he says is September 22. 

Once the Joint Finance Committee finishes work on the budget, it goes to the State Assembly and Senate for approval. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Senate Education Committee Schedules Public Hearing on Student Data Bills

The Senate Committee on Education has scheduled a public hearing for August 17 on the two student data bills that were authored by the Study Committee on School Data. Assembly Bill 71 and Assembly Bill 72 have already been passed by the full Assembly. 

Assembly Bill 71 requires DPI to maintain a pupil data inventory and publish it on their website. Assembly Bill 72 requires the State Superintendent to provide guidance and training to schools on developing data privacy and security plans.

The full committee schedule is available below.

Senate
PUBLIC HEARING
Committee on Education
The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:
Thursday, August 17, 2017
10:00 AM
411 South

Assembly Bill 280
Relating to: incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools.
By Representatives Krug, Fields, Ballweg, Berceau, Born, Brandtjen, E. Brooks, Crowley, Doyle, Edming, Felzkowski, Genrich, Katsma, Kuglitsch, Kulp, Macco, Murphy, Mursau, Novak, Petryk, Ripp, Sanfelippo, Skowronski, Spiros, Stafsholt, Subeck, Summerfield, Tauchen, Tranel, Tusler and Vruwink; cosponsored by Senators Kapenga, L. Taylor, Marklein, Carpenter, Craig, Lasee, Testin, Wanggaard and Wirch.

Assembly Bill 71
Relating to: an inventory of pupil data.
By Joint Legislative Council.

Assembly Bill 72
Relating to: responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.
By Joint Legislative Council.

Senate Bill 105
Relating to: creating a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction.
By Senators Olsen and Feyen; cosponsored by Representatives Kremer, Rohrkaste, Felzkowski, Horlacher, Kleefisch, Kulp and Quinn.

Senate Bill 253
Relating to: prohibiting aiding and abetting sexual abuse.
By Senators Olsen, Darling, Larson and Marklein; cosponsored by Representatives Duchow, Considine, Jacque, Pope, Ripp, Sargent and Subeck.

Senate Bill 299
Relating to: an initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher education program.
By Senators Olsen, L. Taylor, Darling and Feyen; cosponsored by Representatives Kitchens, Bowen, Brostoff, Horlacher, Kooyenga, Kremer, Murphy, Ripp, Spreitzer, Tittl and Tusler.

Senate Bill 301
Relating to: summer school and interim session classes.
By Senators Olsen, L. Taylor, Cowles, Miller and Vinehout; cosponsored by Representatives Hebl, Jagler, Berceau, Felzkowski, Genrich, Horlacher, Ohnstad, Pope, Spreitzer, Subeck, Tauchen, Tusler and Vruwink.
________________________
Senator Luther Olsen

Chair

Friday, July 28, 2017

BCPL Votes to Approve Land Purchase

As we reported earlier this week, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk announced that he would oppose a proposed land purchase by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. He said at the BCPL's meeting earlier this week that he feels BCPL is paying too much for the land and that they would be better off investing their money in other areas.  He also said he believes BCPL does not have the constitutional authority to buy land.

Attorney General Schimel pushed back very hard when Adamczyk claimed he had constitutional objections to the purchase. “You can’t keep throwing around constitutional duty without accurately defining what our constitutional duty is. You’re wrong. You’re dead wrong,” Schimel told Adamczyk at the BCPL's meeting on July 25.  

Schimel said that the constitution directs BCPL to manage their assets in the way the legislature directs them. He said that under Speaker Jensen’s leadership, the Legislature directed the BCPL to sell land using a land bank authority and to use the money to do one thing—buy other land that benefits its beneficiaries. “We’re doing exactly what the constitution directs,” said Schimel.

Schimel and Secretary of State Doug La Follette brought up the point of land management, arguing that it is part of a broader effort connect land that BCPL already owns and to make a larger parcel.

BCPL staff said their projections showed that the Board will make between 3% and 8% on the land and that it is a good investment.

“I resent that you have publically characterized the only conservative option would be to vote against buying this land,” Schimel told Adamczyk. “That’s absolute hogwash. There is clearly a conservative interest in doing this that will increase the value of our assets and grow the School Fund for our beneficiaries.”

Adamczyk is also working with members of the Legislature to make changes to the Board’s land bank authority. He asked for the bill draft to be put on the next agenda. Jonathan Barry said he supports the word change in the bill draft but that some changes would be needed. The bill draft removes the word “only” from the land bank statute, which would allow the Board to invest proceeds from land sales in things other than land.

This issue has generated significant media attention.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Capitol Update--7.24.17

State Treasurer Opposes Proposed BCPL Land Purchase 

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk issued a statement July 24 opposing a proposed land purchase by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

“The constitution couldn’t be any clearer – our mission is to sell land,” said Adamczyk. “I call on my fellow Commissioners to join me in opposition to this land purchase. BCPL staffers are pushing government land grabs. An agency tasked with selling land should not be buying land. Furthermore, for over 150 years the BCPL did not buy land, we should not be buying land now.”

Adamczyk said that students lose out on millions when the BCPL purchases land. He plans to vote against the proposed purchase at the July 25 meeting of the BCPL.

Still No Budget Deal 

Legislative leaders in the State Senate and Assembly have yet to reach agreement on a deal to end the state budget standstill. While Assembly Republicans agreed to a deal offered by Governor Walker late last week that would have eliminated all new bonding in the transportation budget, Senate Republicans rejected the plan. 

Assembly Committee on Education Public Hearing

The Assembly Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 398 and Assembly Bill 427 next Thursday, August 3.

AB 398 expands the online summer or interim session classes that qualify for state aid to include classes the school board determines fulfill a graduation requirement in health education or that count toward the number of credits the school board requires for graduation in any combination of vocational education, foreign languages, fine arts, and other courses.

AB 427 requires the Department of Public Instruction to consult with the Department of Natural Resources, a law enforcement agency or a national or state firearms safety organization to develop a comprehensive curriculum for a firearm education course. Under the bill, the firearm education course would be taught as a high school elective. Schools would not be required to offer the elective. The course could not include live ammunition.

Assembly
PUBLIC HEARING
Committee on Education

The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:
Thursday, August 3, 2017
11:00 AM
417 North (GAR Hall)

Assembly Bill 398
Relating to: summer school and interim session classes.
By Representatives Hebl, Jagler, Berceau, Felzkowski, Genrich, Horlacher, Ohnstad, Pope, Spreitzer, Subeck, Tauchen, Tusler and Vruwink; cosponsored by Senators Olsen, L. Taylor, Cowles, Miller and Vinehout.

Assembly Bill 427
Relating to: comprehensive firearm education for high school pupils.
By Representatives Skowronski, R. Brooks, Kleefisch, Allen, Brandtjen, Edming, Gannon, Horlacher, Knodl, Kremer, Krug, Mursau, Quinn, Ripp, Rodriguez, Schraa, Thiesfeldt and Tusler; cosponsored by Senators Moulton, L. Taylor, Nass, Tiffany and Wanggaard.

________________________

Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Senate Republicans Release Their Own Budget, Includes Funding for Ed Tech

Senate Republicans released their own budget proposal Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to end the standoff between the Assembly and Senate over the future of transportation funding in Wisconsin. The plan incorporates everything already approved by the Joint Finance Committee and puts forward the Senate’s own proposal for transportation, K-12 education and taxes.  During a press conference held Tuesday to unveil the plan, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the goal is to get the Joint Finance Committee back in to finish the budget and that “this puts it back in the Assembly’s court.” Joint Finance Co-Chair Alberta Darling defended the Senate’s decision to include new bonding in the transportation budget, calling the Assembly’s opposition to bonding “totally unrealistic.”

In a letter to Speaker Vos, Fitzgerald says that the Senate has “confirmed that Governor Walker believes this proposal meets his key priorities of funding k-12 education, holding the line on property taxes, and insuring sound investments in transportation without raising taxes.” Fitzgerald also indicated that the K-12 education proposal in the Senate’s budget was negotiated with the Assembly.


Items of interest to WEMTA in the proposal include:

·        Increased K-12 education funding. The Senate adopts the Governor’s proposal to increase per pupil aid payments from $250 to $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 per pupil in 2018-19. The Senate’s proposal also deletes the Governor’s recommendation to require districts to certify that they are in compliance with Act 10 in order to receive the increased funding.

·         New funding for 1-to-1 devices. The proposal includes $9.2 million in new funding to provide grants to school districts to be used for purchasing personal electronic computing devices. However, unlike the proposal put forward by the Assembly, the Senate’s version does not include detailed criteria for how the money could be spent. Payments would equal $125 per 9th grade student and require schools to put forward matching funds.

·         New funding of $1.75 million to contract with a single provider of information technology education for public school students in grades 6-12, technical college students and library patrons.

·         Includes full funding of Newsline for the Blind and Library Service Contracts.

·        One-time funding of $1 million to the Wisconsin Reading Corps one-on-one AmeriCorps tutoring program.

·         New funding for a shared services pilot program that would allow districts to share certain administrative positions, including information technology coordinators.

·         $1 million in funding for a new Rural School Teacher Talent Pilot Program.

·         An expansion of the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level to 220% of the Federal Poverty Level. This change is estimated to result in an additional 550 pupils participating in the program.

·         A new provision that would allow private school choice schools to offer virtual education.
·         Changes to the revenue limit for low-spending school districts.

·        Requires DPI to update their rules related to teacher licenses to simplify the process as much as possible.

·         A modification to the Governor’s proposal to eliminate expiration dates for teacher’s licenses. The Senate proposal requires a provisional three-year license for new teachers or administrators. After six successful semesters, a lifetime license would be granted. The Senate’s proposal would also allow individuals to complete an “alternative teacher preparation program.”


·         Limits to school district referenda scheduling, which would only allow districts to hold referenda on regularly scheduled election days.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Senate Republicans to Release Their Own Budget

As part of the ongoing standoff over the state budget, Senate Republicans will release their own state budget bill tomorrow. It will include everything the Joint Finance Committee has already voted on and the Senate’s own plans for taxes, education and transportation. Senate Republican leaders have said that if the Joint Finance Committee does not resume work on the budget soon, the full Senate will vote on their budget bill and send it to the Assembly.

The Associated Press has more details below:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Senate Republicans' plan to introduce their own version of the state budget (all times local):
4:10 p.m.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he looks forward to seeing Senate Republicans' ideas when they introduce their own state budget.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald plans to introduce the spending plan at a news conference Tuesday. His spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said it will include everything that the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has already voted on as well as plans for tax changes, funding roads and funding state schools. She declined to offer details.
The move could deepen the impasse between Senate and Assembly Republicans over transportation funding. Senate Republicans want to borrow an additional $750 million to fund roads. Assembly Republicans have balked at more borrowing and want to find new ways to raise more revenue for road work.
Vos has said if Senate Republicans won't raise revenue to pay for additional borrowing the only option left is keeping road funding flat. That would slow down or stop work on major interstate projects in southeastern Wisconsin.
___
2:30 p.m.
Senate Republicans are getting ready to introduce their own version of the state budget as their stalemate with Assembly Republicans over transportation funding drags on.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald plans to introduce the spending plan at a news conference Tuesday. His spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said it will include everything that the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has already voted on as well as plans for tax changes, funding roads and funding state schools. She declined to offer any details.
Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, didn't immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Senate Republicans want to borrow an additional $750 million to fund roads. Assembly Republicans have balked at more borrowing and want to find new ways to raise more revenue for road work.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, July 14, 2017

DPI Releases Draft Information and Technology Literacy Academic Standards

The Department of Public Instruction has released updated academic standards for several topics, including information and technology literacy.

You can read the updated information and technology literacy standards here: https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/imt/pdf/2017Draft1.0WIITLStandards.pdf

DPI will hold two public hearings on the proposed standards and are accepting feedback online.

Public Hearings
July 17 — 3 to 5 p.m. Department of Public Instruction, Room P41 125 South Webster Street, Madison
July 18 — 4 to 6 p.m. CESA 6, Collaborations Conference Room 2300 State Road 44, Oshkosh


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Assembly Republicans Considering School Choice Changes; Senate Opposed

We learned earlier this week that Assembly Republicans are considering increasing the income eligibility limit for the statewide school choice program from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. In addition, they are thinking about modifying the enrollment cap on the statewide school choice program. Currently, no more than 2% of any school district’s students can participate in the program. Legislators are said to be considering changing the district-by-district cap on enrollment to a statewide cap on enrollment.

However, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that Senate Republican leaders oppose the changes. 

The Joint Finance Committee has not met since June 15, and it unclear when they will re-convene. There continues to be a deep divide between the Assembly and Senate on how to address transportation and education funding issues.