Senate Prepares to Wrap Up Legislative Session

The Senate will meet at 11:00 am on Tuesday, March 15 for what, by all accounts, will be their last floor session day of the 2015-16 legislative session.  All eyes around the capitol will be focused on the 85 bills that made it to the final Senate calendar.

Bills affecting K-12 education on tomorrow’s Senate calendar include:

Senate Bill 615, the bill to which an amendment was added in the Assembly to change how public school districts recoup the state aid they lose when students who reside in the district participate in the statewide voucher program. Under the amendment, school districts in which resident pupils attend private voucher schools through the statewide or Racine voucher programs would retain revenue limit authority equal to the amount of state aid they lose to private school vouchers. This change reduces the revenue limit authority of affected districts by about $5.3 million statewide. (Under current law, those districts receive revenue limit authority equal to the amount of the district’s per pupil revenue limit.)

Assembly Bill 722, which requires each school that maintains a website and for which the DPI has published a school report card to prominently display a link to the school’s most recent report card on the school’s Internet site within 30 days after DPI publishes the report card. (Private voucher schools and independent charter schools are subject to the same requirement if they maintain a website.)

Assembly Bill 793, which modifies the state’s existing teacher loan program to provide for loan forgiveness to certain teachers employed in school districts in rural counties.

Assembly Bill 824, which adjusts sparsity aid eligibility. This bill authorizes DPI to pay unexpended sparsity aid to a school district that qualified for sparsity aid in the previous school year but, because of an increase in the school district’s membership above the existing 725-member cap on sparsity eligibility, does not qualify in the current school year. (This change allows two school districts, Crivitz and Spring Valley, to continue to receive sparsity aid payments, without reducing (prorating) sparsity aid payments payable to any other qualifying district.) The bill also changes the school district membership cap for sparsity aid purposes from 725 to 745 pupils, beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

These bills have been passed by the Assembly and need Senate approval to get to the Governor’s desk.  All are expected to be approved by the Senate.