Last week, members of the WASB Executive Committee traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with members of our Wisconsin Congressional delegation and their staff and discuss WASB’s concerns and priorities for federal legislation affecting K-12 public schools.
It was a vital time to be on Capitol Hill as Congress worked on funding legislation to avert a federal government shutdown and to begin finalizing 2018 fiscal year funding as well as making preparations to take up the fiscal year 2019 budget.
Representing Wisconsin school boards were: Mary Jo Rozmenoski, WASB President, Black River Falls School Board; Capt. Terry McCloskey (USN Retired), WASB Immediate Past President, Three Lakes School Board; Brett Hyde, WASB 1st Vice President, Muskego-Norway School Board; and Bill Yingst, Sr., WASB 2nd Vice President, Durand-Arkansaw School Board.
Among the key topics discussed were:
- Reauthorizing the Carl Perkins Act to better support career & technical education and build stronger links between public schools, our private sector business partners and technical colleges (At present, a bill to reauthorize the Perkins Act has been approved by the House but not by the Senate);
- Strengthening federal investments in K-12 education, principally:
Title I funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which provides resources to educate low-income children and improve their outcomes, as well as Title II funding, which helps recruit and train candidates to become highly qualified teachers in core academic areas, especially during a period of teacher shortages;
Special Education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which partially funds federally-mandated special education instruction and services for children with disabilities and currently covers only about 15% of the additional cost this mandate, far less than the 40 Percent Congress promised to fund when it enacted IDEA; and
Impact Aid, which provides assistance to school districts that lose property tax revenues due to the presence of tax-exempt federal property within their boundaries but incur costs associated with federally-connected children enrolled in the district (such as children of military personnel or Native American children living on tribal lands.
- Reauthorizing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, in a way that refocuses schools and families toward working collaboratively to support positive education outcomes for all students and reduces complex federal compliance requirements.
Photos: Mary Jo Rozmenoski and Bill Yingst, Sr. (pictured above at left with Congressman Ron Kind); Terry McCloskey and Brett Hyde (pictured above at right with Congressman Glenn Grothman).