Governor Signs Six Education Bills Into Law

Governor Scott Walker signed six education-related bills into law today (Nov. 30) during a ceremony in the Governor’s office in the State Capitol.  They included:

Senate Bill 382, relating to school employee tuberculosis (TB) screening;

Current law requires school districts to condition the employment of school personnel who come in contact with children or who handle or prepare food for children upon a physical examination by a licensed physician that includes a chest X-ray or a tuberculin test. The cost of such examinations, including X-rays and tuberculin tests, must be paid out of school district funds.  Current law also permits a school district to require employees to undergo additional physical examinations at intervals determined by the school district.

This new law (2017 Wisconsin Act 107) provides flexibility by allowing the exam to be performed by a range of medical practitioners beyond licensed physicians, including doctors of osteopathy, physician assistants, or advanced practice nurse practitioners. This new law also replaces a provision specifying that the physical exam must include a chest X-ray or a tuberculin test, either of which is costly and intrusive, with new provisions specifying completion of a screening questionnaire for TB.  Under this new law, school districts may require a school district employee to complete a screening questionnaire for tuberculosis at intervals determined by the school board and these additional screening questionnaires may be administered by a school nurse or other registered nurse.  The WASB supported this bill as a way to reduce school districts’ costs and reflect best practices.  The WASB worked with the authors, Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay), and the Wisconsin School Nurses Association to draft the bill.

 Assembly Bill 280, relating the financial literacy education in schools;

This new law amends state school districts standards to require each school board to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate instruction in financial literacy into the curriculum in grades kindergarten to 12.  The WASB was neutral on this bill, after working with the authors to lessen the burden on public schools compared with earlier versions of the bill.

 Senate Bill 299, relating to Montessori teaching licenses;

This new law expands the teacher education programs that satisfy a requirement for obtaining an initial teaching license under the state’s existing alternative teacher licensure path to include teacher education programs approved by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).  Under the new law, successful completion of the AMI training course – which requires a bachelor’s degree for admission – and passing the exams required of anyone seeking a teaching license will qualify an applicant for a state Montessori teaching license. An AMI training center in Milwaukee helps feed teachers into the successful public Montessori programs in Milwaukee Public Schools, the largest collection of public Montessori schools in the nation. The WASB monitored the progress of this bill but did not take a position on the bill.

Assembly Bill 266, relating to the Technical Excellence Scholarship Program

This new law makes procedural changes to the Technical Excellence Scholarship program that affect ongoing eligibility for the scholarship. The changes allow students to maintain and/or regain scholarship eligibility that they would lose under current law if they were not enrolled full time or did not enroll in consecutive semesters or did not meet GPA requirements in a particular semester. The WASB monitored the progress of this bill but did not take a position.

 Assembly Bill 250, relating to alternative education grants. 

This new law eliminates the statutory language requiring DPI to award grants for alternative education programs as well as DPI rules related to administering these grants.  Although program language has remained in the statutes, no funding has been provided for these grants since funding was deleted in the 2011-13 state budget (2011 Act 32). The WASB monitored the progress of this bill but did not take a position.

 Assembly Bill 251, relating to DPI grant programs.

This new law combines four chapters of the administrative code, each of which pertains to a grant program administered by DPI into one chapter.  The four grant programs are grants for 1) peer review and mentoring; 2) alcohol and other drug abuse programs; 3) tribal language revitalization; and 4) four-year-old kindergarten. The WASB monitored the progress of this bill but did not take a position.