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. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

State Budget Update: Still No K-12 Education Vote

The standstill over the state budget continues. Assembly and Senate Republican leaders are still trying to reach a deal on transportation and K-12 education funding. In an attempt to bring an end to the budget standstill, Governor Walker announced this week that he would be willing to reduce the level of borrowing in the state's transportation budget by $200 million but reiterated his commitment to passing a budget without a gas tax or fee increase.

While transportation funding has dominated most of the news coverage, legislators are also trying to reach agreement on the K-12 education budget. One news outlet reported this week that Republican leaders are negotiating "whether, and how much, to raise income eligibility limits for parents who want to send their children to a private school through the voucher program." 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

K-12 Funding Negotiations Stalled Over Ed Tech Grant Program

Despite earlier reports that the Joint Finance Committee was on track to vote on K-12 education funding on Thursday, the Committee announced today that they will not meet this week as negotiations continue between Senate and Assembly Republicans.

Committee members have said that one of the sticking points is the proposed $9.2 million grant program to help schools purchase one-to-one computing devices included in the Assembly Republican K-12 plan released a few weeks ago.


Budget committee won't meet this week as laptops, borrowing stall negotiations
·         MATTHEW DeFOUR and MOLLY BECK Wisconsin State Journal
·         29 min ago

Closed-door budget negotiations dragged on Wednesday as Republicans continued to haggle over how to fund education, transportation and tax cuts.

Joint Finance co-chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said after a meeting between GOP leaders of the Assembly and Senate that the two houses have made progress toward agreement on education spending.

One hurdle in reaching agreement, Nygren said, is an Assembly proposal to spend $9.2 million on grants to give schools money to purchase laptop or tablet computers to ninth graders for five school years. He said that is not the only, or biggest, disagreement remaining on K-12 spending.

Assembly Republican leaders said after meeting with their Senate counterparts Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. they they weren't ready to hold a Joint Finance Committee meeting this week. They also acknowledged the committee won't likely wrap up its work next week in time for a July 1 deadline for passing the budget.

"It's going to come down to transportation being the main stumbling block for us moving forward," Nygren said.

Nygren and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Senate Republicans continue to support relying on borrowing to fund transportation, even more than the $500 million proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Republicans are "solidly against that."

"We've had the same discussion multiple budgets in a row now and I think our position is right now we're going to stop having this reliance on bonding," Nygren said. "We need to come up with a solution to pay our bills rather than continue to borrow on our kids' futures."


A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Joint Finance Committee won't meet Thursday, though Nygren said it's possible the committee will meet next week to finalize education and a few other topics where there is no disagreement. Transportation and tax cuts won't likely be resolved before July 1, when the new budget calendar begins.

If a budget isn't signed into law by then, funding for state government will continue at current levels. In 2015 the budget wasn't signed until mid-July, and Vos and Nygren remained hopeful this year's budget would be completed by then.

Vos said he preferred to continue meeting with Senate Republicans to work out a deal before scheduling another budget committee meeting.

"It's not for lack of working on the budget, it's just doing it in a process to try to find consensus," Vos said.

Vos said the negotiations haven't reached a point where they are considering passing the transportation budget in a separate bill, which would allow them to court Democratic votes. He said a proposal by Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, to raise fees on

"My hope is we are able to find a long-term solution for transportation," Vos said. "It seems to be elusive which leaves us with a lot of bad choices, frankly."


State Assembly Passes UW Free Expression Bill


 The State Assembly voted 61-36 late Wednesday night to pass Assembly Bill 299, which requires the UW Board of Regents to develop a Free Expression policy. The Assembly voted unanimously to adopt an amendment that deletes the Council on Free Expression from the bill and instead directs the Board of Regents to file a report with the Governor and Legislature on September 1 of each year on the implementation of the free expression policy. 

Democrats argued that the bill has a chilling effect on free speech and repeatedly referred to it as the "campus gag rule." Republicans countered that the bill is needed to ensure that people of all political views can have their voices heard on campus. 

AB 299 does the following:

·         Requires the Board of Regents to develop a free expression policy that adheres to a set of criteria outlined in the bill. It instructs UW institutions to remain neutral on the public policy controversies of the day

·         Requires the UW to suspend any student that violates the Free Expression Policy twice and expel any student that violates the Free Expression policy three times. Disciplinary actions would apply to individuals who "engage in violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others." However, the bill does not define what the "free expression of others" entails. 

·         Allows any person to make a report that someone has violated the Free Expression Policy. 


AB 299 now goes to the Senate for approval. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

State Assembly Passes Student Data Bills

The State Assembly voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass two bills authored by the Study Committee on Student Data. The bills now go to the Senate for approval.

Assembly Bill 71: requires the State Superintendent to create, maintain and post a pupil data inventory on DPI’s website. This data inventory must include every distinct type of pupil data collected by DPI from schools and school districts, a definition of the type of pupil data collected, the purpose for collecting the pupil data, and a citation to the specific provision of state or federal law requiring collection of the data. The list must be updated every time DPI makes changes to the type of data they collect.


Assembly Bill 72 requires the State Superintendent to develop a model data privacy and security plan, which includes certain elements like guidelines for access to pupil data and to the student information system. This bill also requires the State Superintendent to provide guidance and training to school districts on data privacy and the security of pupil data. The Superintendent must work with stakeholders to develop and promote best practices regarding the quality, usefulness, openness, privacy, and security of pupil data.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Senate, Assembly Republicans Closer to Reaching K-12 Funding Deal

Senate and Assembly Republicans are rumored to be close to having a deal on K-12 education funding and could vote as early as this Thursday, June 22. Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) told Committee members to keep the date open for a possible vote, but nothing has been officially scheduled at this time. 

Assembly Republicans developed their own K-12 funding proposal, which they released two weeks ago, and Senate Republicans are working on a plan of their own which is closer to what the Governor had proposed but provides additional funding to low-spending school districts. 

Governor Walker had proposed a $649 million increase to K-12 education funding but Assembly Republicans would decrease this amount by $70 million and provide additional resources to low-spending school districts. The Assembly Republican plan also includes about $9.1 million annually to provide grants to schools to provide “personal electronic computing devices.” Public, private and charter schools could apply for grants equal to $125 per 9th grade student to pay for any of the following: purchasing personal electronic computing devices; purchasing software for the devices; purchasing curriculum that includes content that may be accessed on the personal computing devices; or training professional staff on how to effectively incorporate personal electronic devices into a classroom and into high school curriculum.
                       
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to contact your state representative and state senator and ask them to support the Governor’s proposed increase to K-12 funding.

WEMTA has also been monitoring the following items, which were included in the Governor’s proposal:

·         Library Service Contracts: the Governor’s proposal  provides an additional $10,300 over the budget biennium to fully fund the Library Service Contracts. The Assembly Republican plan makes no changes to this.

·         Eliminating Expiration Dates for Teacher and Administrator Licenses: the Governor’s proposal includes a concerning requirement that would eliminate expiration dates for teaching and administrator licenses. Teachers and administrators would no longer need to renew their licenses and there would be no ongoing professional development requirements. Instead, school boards would be required to conduct background checks on everyone who holds a teaching or administrator’s license at least once every five years. The Assembly Republican proposal makes some modifications to the Governor’s proposal. Their proposal includes Milwaukee Public Schools and independent charter schools in the requirement to conduct background checks every five years and grants provisional three-year licenses to new educators, administrators and pupil services professionals. Under the Assembly Republican plan, a lifetime license could only be granted after completion of six semesters of experience. The Assembly Republican plan also requires DPI to update PI 34, the administrative rules for teacher licensure, to simplify the process by January 1, 2018.

·         Newsline for the Blind: the Governor’s proposal provides an additional $52,200 over the budget biennium to fully fund Newsline for the Blind costs. The Assembly Republican plan makes no changes to this.

·         Online Bullying Prevention: the Governor’s proposal provides $150,000 for grants to a nonprofit organization to provide training and an online bullying prevention curriculum for pupils in grades kindergarten through eight. The Assembly Republican plan accepts the Governor’s proposal.

·         Sparsity Aid for Rural Districts: the Governor’s proposal increases sparsity aid funding by $20 million. Per pupil payments for districts that meet sparsity aid requirements would increase by $100 for a total payment of $400 per pupil. It also creates a second-tier of sparsity aid for districts that have enrollment between 745 and 1,000 with a population density of less than 10 students per square mile. The Assembly Republican proposal rejects the Governor’s proposals to increase sparsity payments.


·         Milwaukee Performance Funding: the Governor’s proposal creates a new $5.6 million performance funding program for Milwaukee schools. $1.9 million will be distributed to schools that “significantly exceed expectations” or “exceed expectations” on the school report card. $3.6 million will go to schools that increase their numeric score by at least three points on the school report card. The Assembly Republican plan is silent on this provision.  


·         Milwaukee Summer School Grants: the Governor’s proposal provides $1.4  million for summer school grants to Milwaukee public schools. Grants would help schools develop, redesign or implement a summer school program to increase pupil attendance, improve academic achievement or expose pupils to innovative learning activities. The Assembly Republican plan is silent on this provision. 

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


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

State Assembly to Vote on Student Data Bills June 21

The State Assembly will vote on two bills related to protecting student data on June 21.
These bills were authored by the Study Committee on Student Data and do the following:

Assembly Bill 71: requires the State Superintendent to create, maintain and post a pupil data inventory on DPI’s website. This data inventory must include every distinct type of pupil data collected by DPI from schools and school districts, a definition of the type of pupil data collected, the purpose for collecting the pupil data, and a citation to the specific provision of state or federal law requiring collection of the data. The list must be updated every time DPI makes changes to the type of data they collect.

Assembly Bill 72 requires the State Superintendent to develop a model data privacy and security plan, which includes certain elements like guidelines for access to pupil data and to the student information system. This bill also requires the State Superintendent to provide guidance and training to school districts on data privacy and the security of pupil data. The Superintendent must work with stakeholders to develop and promote best practices regarding the quality, usefulness, openness, privacy, and security of pupil data.

ASSEMBLY PROPOSED CALENDAR FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21
Assembly Rules will meet at some point during Wednesday, June 14 floor session to finalize the schedule for 1 pm, Wednesday, June 21.
Assembly Bills
AB-071 Pupil Data Inventory (Legislative Council) An inventory of pupil data.

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Joint Finance Committee at Odds over K-12 Budget

Divisions are forming between the State Senate and Assembly on the Governor’s proposal for K-12 education, and it is not clear when the Joint Finance Committee will meet to vote on the education budget.

Governor Walker had proposed a $649 million increase to K-12 education funding but Assembly Republicans released their own plan on Tuesday which would decrease this amount by $70 million but provide additional resources to low-spending school districts. The Assembly Republican plan also includes about $9.1 million annually to provide grants to schools to provide “personal electronic computing devices.” Public, private and charter schools could apply for grants equal to $125 per 9th grade student to pay for any of the following: purchasing personal electronic computing devices; purchasing software for the devices; purchasing curriculum that includes content that may be accessed on the personal computing devices; or training professional staff on how to effectively incorporate personal electronic devices into a classroom and into high school curriculum.
                       
Senator Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) quickly rejected the Assembly Republican proposal, saying “The State Senate remains committed to fully funding K-12 education as Governor Walker proposed in his administrative budget.”

Contact your state representative and state senator and ask them to support the Governor’s proposal for K-12 education funding.  See this urgent statement from the Wisconsin Public Education Network for more information: http://www.wisconsinnetwork.org/blog/wisconsin-parents-assembly-education-plan-hurts-kids-betrays-promise  

You could also let your legislators know if you support the Assembly Republican plan to provide $9.1 million annually for grants to schools for “personal electronic computing devices.”

WEMTA has been monitoring the following items, which were included in the Governor’s proposal:

·         Library Service Contracts: the Governor’s proposal  provides an additional $10,300 over the budget biennium to fully fund the Library Service Contracts. The Assembly Republican plan makes no changes to this.

·         Eliminating Expiration Dates for Teacher and Administrator Licenses: the Governor’s proposal includes a concerning requirement that would eliminate expiration dates for teaching and administrator licenses. Teachers and administrators would no longer need to renew their licenses and there would be no ongoing professional development requirements. Instead, school boards would be required to conduct background checks on everyone who holds a teaching or administrator’s license at least once every five years. The Assembly Republican proposal makes some modifications to the Governor’s proposal. Their proposal includes Milwaukee Public Schools and independent charter schools in the requirement to conduct background checks every five years and grants provisional three-year licenses to new educators, administrators and pupil services professionals. Under the Assembly Republican plan, a lifetime license could only be granted after completion of six semesters of experience. The Assembly Republican plan also requires DPI to update PI 34, the administrative rules for teacher licensure, to simplify the process by January 1, 2018.

·         Newsline for the Blind: the Governor’s proposal provides an additional $52,200 over the budget biennium to fully fund Newsline for the Blind costs. The Assembly Republican plan makes no changes to this.

·         Online Bullying Prevention: the Governor’s proposal provides $150,000 for grants to a nonprofit organization to provide training and an online bullying prevention curriculum for pupils in grades kindergarten through eight. The Assembly Republican plan accepts the Governor’s proposal.

·         Sparsity Aid for Rural Districts: the Governor’s proposal increases sparsity aid funding by $20 million. Per pupil payments for districts that meet sparsity aid requirements would increase by $100 for a total payment of $400 per pupil. It also creates a second-tier of sparsity aid for districts that have enrollment between 745 and 1,000 with a population density of less than 10 students per square mile. The Assembly Republican proposal rejects the Governor’s proposals to increase sparsity payments.

·         Milwaukee Performance Funding: the Governor’s proposal creates a new $5.6 million performance funding program for Milwaukee schools. $1.9 million will be distributed to schools that “significantly exceed expectations” or “exceed expectations” on the school report card. $3.6 million will go to schools that increase their numeric score by at least three points on the school report card. The Assembly Republican plan is silent on this provision.  

·         Milwaukee Summer School Grants: the Governor’s proposal provides $1.4  million for summer school grants to Milwaukee public schools. Grants would help schools develop, redesign or implement a summer school program to increase pupil attendance, improve academic achievement or expose pupils to innovative learning activities. The Assembly Republican plan is silent on this provision. 

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


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Joint Finance Committee Approves Increased Funding for TEACH, Public Library System

The Joint Finance Committee met Wednesday to vote on the state budget. They approved several items of interest to WEMTA. They will vote on the full Department of Public Instruction budget either next Tuesday or Thursday.

TEACH Grants:  The Joint Finance Committee voted 16-0 to adopt a motion authored by Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) to provide 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. The Governor had originally proposed a funding increase of $7.5 million to TEACH, but this motion reduced funding by $1.5 million to increase aid to public libraries.

Public Library Funding:  The motion authored by Senator Marklein increases aid to public library systems by $1.5 million.

Teacher Development Program Grants: The Committee voted 12-4 to adopt a motion authored by Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) to approve the Governor’s proposal to create a Teacher Development Grant Program administered by the Department of Workforce Development with some modifications.  DWD would be required to award grants to eligible school districts, private schools or charter management organizations in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction. The teacher development program must be designed and implemented in partnership with an “educator preparation program” approved by DPI.  Individuals who don’t yet have a bachelor’s degree would be permitted to enter the program.

Grants for Teacher Training Recruitment: The Committee voted 12-4 to adopt a motion authored by Representative Felzkowski (R-Irma) to transfer the Teach for America grant program from  DPI to the Department of Workforce Development. The motion changes the name of the grant program  to “Grants for Teacher Training and Recruitment” and allows organizations other than Teach for America to receive the funding.


Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: No motions offered. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Assembly Passes TEACH, ESSA Bills

The State Assembly passed two bills of interest to WEMTA yesterday. They now go to the Senate for approval.

Broadband, TEACH:  The Assembly voted unanimously to pass Assembly Bill 123. Assembly Bill 123 does the following:

·         Transfers $6 million from the Universal Service Fund and $5 million from the Federal E-Rate Program to provide additional funding for the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program. It also allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to distribute an unlimited amount of broadband expansion grants each year—they are currently only allowed to issue $1.5 million in grants per year.

·         Transfers all unspent funds in the Universal Service Fund (which currently provides funding for Newsline for the Blind, the Digital Learning Collaboration, Public Library System Aids, TEACH grants and Library Service Contracts) to the Broadband Expansion Grant program on June 30 of each odd-numbered year.  It also allows PSC to use contributions made by telecommunications providers to the USF to fund broadband expansion grants.

·         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.

·          Extends the TEACH Information Technology Block Grant program to July 1, 2019 (it is currently set to end on July 1, 2017). The bill also allows the Department of Administration to award another round of Information Technology Block Grants to school district this year and expands eligibility for the program to school districts that have 16 students per square mile. An additional $7.5 million is transferred from the Federal E-rate Program to fund TEACH contracts.


State ESSA Plan: The Assembly voted unanimously to pass Assembly Bill 233, which prohibits DPI from submitting the state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan without first responding to any objections by the Assembly Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education. If DPI receives objections to the proposed state plan from one of the education committees, DPI must provide a written response to each objection raised by the committee within 14 days.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Joint Finance Committee Approves Broadband Expansion, TEACH Bill

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously voted to approve Assembly Bill 123 today, which makes changes to the Broadband Expansion Grant program and the TEACH program. AB 123 can now be voted on by the full Assembly.

Assembly Bill 123 does the following:

1)      It transfers $6 million from the Universal Service Fund and $5 million from the Federal E-Rate Program to provide additional funding for the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program. It also allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to distribute an unlimited amount of broadband expansion grants each year—they are currently only allowed to issue $1.5 million in grants per year.

2)      Transfers all unspent funds in the Universal Service Fund (which currently provides funding for Newsline for the Blind, the Digital Learning Collaboration, Public Library System Aids, TEACH grants and Library Service Contracts) to the Broadband Expansion Grant program on June 30 of each odd-numbered year.  It also allows PSC to use contributions made by telecommunications providers to the USF to fund broadband expansion grants.

3)      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.

4)      Extends the TEACH Information Technology Block Grant program to July 1, 2019 (it is currently set to end on July 1, 2017). The bill also allows the Department of Administration to award another round of Information Technology Block Grants to school district this year and expands eligibility for the program to school districts that have 16 students per square mile. An additional $7.5 million is transferred from the Federal E-rate Program to fund TEACH contracts.


The companion bill, Senate Bill 49, was passed unanimously be the Senate on April 4. The Senate added an amendment to their version of the bill that prohibits an Internet service provider from collecting information about a customer’s use of Internet services, unless the provider of Internet access services receives express written approval from the customer.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Assembly Committee Approves Broadband, TEACH Bill

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities unanimously approve Assembly Bill 123 today, which makes changes to the Broadband Expansion Grant program and the TEACH program. The Joint Finance Committee will vote on Assembly Bill 123 on Monday, April 24, after which it can be voted on by the full Assembly.

Assembly Bill 123 does the following:

1)      It transfers $6 million from the Universal Service Fund and $5 million from the Federal E-Rate Program to provide additional funding for the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program. It also allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to distribute an unlimited amount of broadband expansion grants each year—they are currently only allowed to issue $1.5 million in grants per year.

2)      Transfers all unspent funds in the Universal Service Fund (which currently provides funding for Newsline for the Blind, the Digital Learning Collaboration, Public Library System Aids, TEACH grants and Library Service Contracts) to the Broadband Expansion Grant program on June 30 of each odd-numbered year.  It also allows PSC to use contributions made by telecommunications providers to the USF to fund broadband expansion grants.

3)      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.

4)      Extends the TEACH Information Technology Block Grant program to July 1, 2019 (it is currently set to end on July 1, 2017). The bill also allows the Department of Administration to award another round of Information Technology Block Grants to school district this year and expands eligibility for the program to school districts that have16 students per square mile and a membership of 2,500 or less. An additional $7.5 million is transferred from the Federal E-rate Program to fund TEACH contracts.


The companion bill, Senate Bill 49, was passed unanimously be the Senate on April 4. The Senate added an amendment to their version of the bill that prohibits an Internet service provider from collecting information about a customer’s use of Internet services, unless the provider receives express written approval from the customer.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Public Hearings on the State Budget Start Tomorrow!


The Joint Finance Committee public hearings on the state budget start tomorrow! This is your chance to speak about issues important to you and your school. Items included in the proposed budget include:

  • $649 million increase to K-12 education funding! 
  • An additional $7.5 million in funding for the TEACH Telecommunications Access for Educational Agencies, Infrastructure Grants, and Teacher Training Grants. TEACH grants provide IT infrastructure grants to rural school districts, which schools can use to pay for things like “hotspots”, routers, cabling and installation and activation costs. 
  • A provision that would create lifetime teacher's licenses, which would never need to be renewed
  • An additional $10,300 to fully fund Library Service Contracts for the Milwaukee Public Library, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Cooperative Children's Book Center and the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library. 



Monday, April 3 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Ullsvick Hall
30 South Hickory Street
Platteville, WI 53818

Wednesday, April 5 (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
State Fair Park - Exposition Center
8200 West Greenfield Avenue West Allis, WI 53214

Friday, April 7 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Berlin High School (Auditorium) 222 Memorial Drive Berlin, WI 54923

Tuesday, April 18 (10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)
Spooner High School (Auditorium)
801 County Highway A
Spooner, WI 54801

Wednesday, April 19 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Ellsworth High School (Gymnasium)
323 West Hillcrest Street
Ellsworth, WI 54011

Friday, April 21 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Marinette High School (Auditorium)
2135 Pierce Avenue

Marinette, WI 54143

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Don't Forget to Vote Tuesday, April 4!



Don’t forget to vote in the State Superintendent election on April 4! This is a very important race for the school library community.

Incumbent State Superintendent Tony Evers is being challenged by Lowell Holtz, a retired superintendent of the Whitnall School District.

According to the Milwaukee Journal, priorities for Evers include increasing state school funding, expanding mental health services, closing achievement gaps, and addressing the teacher shortage. Holtz’s first priority is school safety, and he is a strong proponent for eliminating Common Core standards.

Superintendent Tony Evers is endorsed by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, American Federation of Teachers, and the School Administrators Alliance. Evers is also supported by the Senate Education Committee Chair, Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). See a complete list of Evers’ endorsements here. Holtz is supported by a long list of state legislators as well as the Republican Parties of Adams, Dane, Dodge, Marathon, Milwaukee, Waupaca, Barron, Jackson, Sauk, and Washington Counties. See a complete list of Hotlz’s endorsements here.

Here are some quick facts on the two candidates for Tuesday’s election:

·         Tony Evers, incumbent:
·         Position on Libraries: “Under my leadership, we are launching new technology activities in libraries, like the coding project giving librarians the background and resources to nurture development of these skills with youth in their communities.”
·         School choice: opposes expansion of the voucher program, wants focus on resources for public schools.
·         Common Core: Evers has supported the adoption and implementation of Common Core
·         Running on: fixing the school funding formula; increasing graduation rates/reducing achievement gaps; and making sure students graduate ready for college and careers.
·         Website

·         Lowell Holtz, Superintendent, Whitnall School District:
·         Position on Libraries: “Libraries are a seamless extension of our K-12 school system – before pre-school is commenced, throughout the calendar year, and after diplomas are earned.”
·         School choice: supports the school choice program, saying: “I have no problems with the concept of a voucher in every backpack.”
·         Common Core: supports the immediate elimination of the Common Core curriculum
·         Other positions: promises to close the achievement gap, reduce administrative burdens on teachers, and return control of education back to local communities and parents.
·         Website

There are also school board and other local elections going on around the state, as well as the re-election vote of State Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler. Ziegler is running unopposed.

And don’t forget about voter ID laws!