Today, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released the list of non-fiscal policy items contained within the proposed 2015-2017 State Budget. The list is comprised of items that generally have no state fiscal effect and have a policy implication. Included in the list are provisions relating to:
- Making school district participation in CESAs voluntary.
- Prohibiting the State Superintendent from giving any effect, or requiring a school board to give any effect, to any academic standard developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative and previously adopted and implemented by DPI.
- Requiring that school districts annually, prior to the start of the school term, notify the parents and guardians of pupils enrolled in the district of the academic standards adopted by the school board for that school year. Require that a notice identifying the academic standards adopted by the school board be included as an item on the agenda for the first school board meeting of the school year.
- Accountability provisions including changes to how the report cards are calculated and replacing the current categories with A-F letter grades.
- Requiring that all schools annually provide the parent or guardian of each enrolled pupil with a list of the educational options available to children who reside in the pupil’s resident school district, including public schools, private schools participating in a private school choice program, charter schools, virtual schools, full-time open enrollment, youth options, course options, and options for pupils enrolled in a home-based private educational program.
- Allowing the school boards of two or more school districts to enter into a whole grade sharing agreement under which all or a substantial portion of the pupils enrolled in one or more grades in any of the school districts could attend school in one or more of the other districts for all or part of the school day.
- Providing assessment flexibility for private voucher schools.
- Changing the date for private schools to notify DPI of their intent to participate in a voucher program.
- Allowing teachers and administrators in private voucher schools to be considered qualified by obtaining a DPI license as opposed to the current requirement of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute of higher ed.
- Deleting a requirement that private voucher schools report certain enrollment information to DPI.
- Eliminating the Pupil Assignment Council which included representatives from each private school in the various voucher programs who met and forwarded recommendations to each voucher school on the achievement of a balanced representation of pupils participating in voucher programs.
- Establishment of Charter School Oversight Board which would have the authority to approve independent “2r” charter schools statewide.
- New requirements on a school board that has authorized a charter school, or an entity authorized to contract to establish independent “2r” charter schools.
- Additional contract, governing body, and admissions requirements for charter schools.
Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), who requested the list, released the following statement: “I have long been an opponent of non-fiscal policy items in the state budget. These items should all be stripped out and discussed with public discourse in committees through separate legislation. The state budget is no place for policy items. I am advocating for all non-fiscal policy to be taken out of the budget before passage.”
Being named to the “non-fiscal policy items” list is not a guarantee that a particular provision will be removed from the budget bill. That decision rests with the co-chairs and members of the Joint Finance Committee.