The Senate Committee on Education, chaired by state Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), recommended a bill (Senate Bill 244) regarding filling school board vacancies be passed by the full Senate. The vote was 4-3 with GOP Senators supporting and Democrats opposing. The Assembly companion bill (Assembly Bill 325) has already been approved by that house.
This bills, authored by Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Caledonia), were drafted in response to a situation in Racine where the school board has deadlocked (4-4) on a number of matters, including appointing a person to fill a vacancy that has existed since June. The Racine Unified School Board has taken 35 votes in an attempt to resolve the vacancy to no avail. The bills would do the following:
- Includes a provision allowing the school board president to unilaterally fill a vacancy only in the Racine Unified School District and only until April 2016 when it sunsets.
- Every school board in the state must adopt a policy by July 1, 2016 on how the school board will fill a vacancy if the remaining school board members do not fill the vacancy within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first exists.
- Technical changes related to the current law requiring the Racine Unified School Board members to be re-elected to geographically apportioned seats.