Governor Signs Budget; Includes Several Education-Related Vetoes

As he prepared to kick off his presidential campaign,Governor Scott Walker signed the two-year, $72.7 billion state budget Sunday after issuing 104 vetoes–about twice as many as he did in the last two budgets he approved.

Participation in Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

The Governor partially vetoed the language that relates to the prohibition of school district membership in an athletic association unless the association requires member school districts to permit home-based private educational program pupils residing in the district to participate in interscholastic athletics in the district. The Governor stated his objection related to not believing state statutes should stipulate the participation and membership requirements of a private athletic association.

This could potentially put schools in an awkward position since state law now states that school districts must allow home-schooled students  who reside within the district to participate in athletics on the same basis a students enrolled in the district; however, the existing WIAA rules require that athletes be enrolled full-time at the public school to be eligible to compete in WIAA-sanctioned activities.

Special Needs Voucher Eligibility

This veto relates to provisions that establish alternative eligibility requirements for a child to be awarded a Special Needs Scholarship in the 2016-17 school year. Under this section, the child must meet the following conditions: (a) the child applied to attend a public school in one or more nonresident school districts under the open enrollment program in one of the previous five school years; (b) the child applied to attend public school in one or more nonresident school districts under the open enrollment program in the same year for which an application for a scholarship was submitted and the application was rejected without a successful appeal; and (c) the child will attend a public school in the state for the entire 2015-16 school year.

The Governor partially vetoed this section to remove the word “entire” from the requirement that the child attend public school in the state for the 2015-16 school year.  The veto presumably means to be eligible a pupil could attend a public school for less than the full 2015-16 school year and still become eligible for a special needs voucher.

State Assessment System

The Governor partially vetoed language added by the Joint Finance Committee that would have codified assessment criteria in state law that the Governor says are closely aligned with national standards.  Through the governor’s partial veto this provision essentially reverted to the language originally proposed in the governor’s initial budget. That language bars the state superintendent from approving or adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessment and from participating in the Smarter Balanced Consortium, which developed the test, which DPI renamed as the “Badger Exam.”

It appears that this veto will have no impact on the DPI’s current efforts to procure a new state test for grades 3 through 8 as the request for proposals was based on the governor’s original budget language.

There are several other more technical vetoes which can be found in the Governor’s Veto Message.