Summary of budget provisions related to libraries & technology

The  information below describes provisions in the governor’s 2019-21 state budget proposal related to school libraries and educational technology.  It was compiled by the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association (WEMTA).  WEMTA is an independent professional association serving school library media and instructional technology professionals.

School Library and Public Library Funding/Programming

  • Fully Funds Library Service Contracts. Provides an additional $133,200 in the first year of the biennium and $168,100 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund the library service contracts. This would bring total funding to $1,307,500 in the first year of the budget and $1,475,600 in the second year of the budget. The contracts are currently held by: the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).
  • Fully Funds BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind. Provides an additional $345,800 to fully fund BadgerLink contracts and Newsline for the Blind.

BCPL and the Common School Fund

  • Changes Deposit of Discretionary Settlement Funds. Repeals statutory language changes made in 2017 Wisconsin Act 369 requiring the Attorney General to deposit all settlement funds into the general fund. It creates a new appropriation line for the deposit of discretionary settlement funds “to be used at the discretion of the attorney general.” It also requires DOJ to submit a semi-annual report on the use of settlement funds, including the amount of discretionary settlement funds received, to the Department of Administration and the Joint Finance Committee. It is WEMTA’s position that discretionary settlement funds belong in the Common School Fund.

Ed Tech Programs

  • Eliminates the TEACH Educational Technology Training Grants. These grants provide $1.5 million in yearly funding to eligible rural school districts and libraries to provide training to teachers and librarians on the use of educational technology. In Fiscal Year 2018, 201 eligible rural school districts received funding from this grant program, enabling hundreds of Wisconsin teachers to receive educational technology training.
  • Eliminates the Personal Electronic Computing Device (1:1) Grant program after the 2019-20 school year. This grant program provides $9.2 million in yearly funding for the purchase of student one-to-one devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.) and supporting software, curriculum, and training. Every Wisconsin school or school district is eligible to receive $125 per 9th grade student.
  • Transfers $24.2 million of e-rate funds, which are used to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries, to fund Broadband Expansion Grants. E-rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to schools and libraries. Currently, schools and libraries are not expressly listed as eligible applicants for the Broadband Expansion grants and state statute requires political subdivisions to partner with a telecommunications company or private organization in order to apply.
  • Eliminates TEACH Curriculum Grant Program. Eliminates the TEACH curriculum grants which support the development and implementation of technology-enhanced high school curriculum. These grants currently provide $25,000 per year to eligible consortia of school districts.
  • Extends the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure Block Grant program until June 31, 2021 but reduces funding from $7.5 million per year to $3 million per year. These grants provide technology infrastructure to improve the capacity of rural school districts to utilize technology for students. Eligible purchases include: portable devices/hotspots, routers, access points, cabling, firewall services and other items.
  • Restores state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Restores state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board. Media Lab funds support Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. State funding was eliminated for this programming in the 2015-17 state budget.
  • Eliminates Information Technology Education Grant (Microsoft IT Academy): Deletes the Information Technology Education grant program, which provides $875,000 annually to a recipient (currently Microsoft IT Academy) to provide information technology education to public school and technical college students as well as public library patrons.

[Editor’s Note:  The item above related to restoring limited state funding for the Media Lab run by the Educational Communications Board is on today’s (May 9) JFC agenda for a vote.  You can find the budget paper for this item hereUpdate:  A motion to approve Alternative #1 (restoring limited funding as proposed by the governor) was turned down on an 11-5 party line vote.]