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:  

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 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; for members of the Senate, the form is

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