JFC Wraps Up Work on Budget, Bill Now Moves to Senate & Assembly

Late Thursday evening (July 2), the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completed its work on the state budget bill.   At this point, it is not clear which house (i.e., Senate or Assembly) will take up the budget bill first, due to jockeying between the two houses over the consideration of prevailing wage reform and whether that matter will indeed be included in the budget bill.

Among the K-12 related changes made by the JFC included:

  • removing the most controversial changes to teacher licensing requirements (see below);
  • restoring the course options program while allowing institutions of higher education to charge tuition and fees to a pupil or his or her parents or guardians if the pupil receives postsecondary credit for a course taken through the course options program; and
  • clarifying the language that would allow home schooled students to participate in public school sports and extracurricular activities.

These changes were made as part of a final “wrap-up” motion adopted by committee members on a 12-4 party-line vote.

The JFC’s latest action deleted provisions that would have required the DPI to issue a teaching license to English, math, science, or social studies courses in grades 6 through 12 to any individual with a bachelor’s degree if a school board or the governing body of a charter school  or private school in which the individual intends to teach determines the individual is proficient in each subject that he or she intends to teach and has relevant experience in each subject that he or she intends to teach.  It also deleted additional provisions that would have required the DPI to issue a teaching permit  to allow anyone to teach any subjects other than English, math, science, or social studies in grades 6 through 12 if a school board, charter school, or private school determines the individual is proficient and has relevant experience.

The JFC motion, however, also adds a provision allowing teachers or school administrators who have licenses from other states and have taught or worked for at least one year in those states to get Wisconsin licenses.  Individuals must have been offered a job by a Wisconsin school before they could apply for a license jointly with the employing school or school district.

The JFC action also tweaked provisions on participation in athletics and extra-curricular activities it had adopted previously to specify that they would only apply to pupils enrolled in a home-based private education program and to require the home-based private education program to provide the public school with a written statement that the pupil meets the school board’s requirements for participation in interscholastic athletics based on age an academic and disciplinary records, rather than the public school making that determination. The JFC action prohibits anyone from making a false statement to the public school, but also provides that a school board could not question the accuracy or validity of such a statement or request additional information.

The JFC action also clarifies that the Gateway Technical College District Board would only be able to authorize STEM-focused independent “2r” charter schools located within that technical college district, and specifies that only the College of Menominee Nation and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa  Community College, rather than tribal colleges generally, would be able to authorize charter schools.

Surprisingly, the motion did not remove provisions altering teacher and administrator contract renewal timelines  adopted earlier by the JFC.  The WASB Government Relations staff is still working to address this.

Read more: Wisconsin State Journal