All posts by Chris Kulow

Statewide Testing Results Steady; Achievement Gaps Remain

From the Department of Public Instruction (DPI): “Statewide results held steady on the Forward, ACT Plus Writing, and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments administered during the 2016-17 school year. These exams, part of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS), are the statewide assessments for the more than 453,000 public and private choice school students enrolled in grades three through eight and grade 11.

“Participation was up by 5,713 students statewide from the prior school year, and rates improved slightly for public schools with 98.4 percent of students taking the assessments. Choice schools had a participation rate of 93.1 percent. Results for choice students showed some fluctuations across the Forward and ACT assessments, though none were significantly different from the prior year. Overall, public school results across the WSAS were steady. Continue reading Statewide Testing Results Steady; Achievement Gaps Remain

Unfunded Mandate Update: Competitive Bidding & Construction Notices

The Senate version of a bill (Senate Bill 236) that would require school districts to use the competitive bidding process on certain school construction projects has been scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, Oct. 3rd and committee vote Thursday, Oct. 5th in the Senate Local Government Committee. The bill is authored by state Sen. Duey Stroebel  and state Rep. Robert Brooks (R’s-Saukville).

The WASB testified in opposition to the Assembly version (Assembly Bill 307) in July.  Our position was  determined based on support for local control and noted that the bill would limit or eliminate local board discretion and flexibility  to use various project delivery methods for school construction. Continue reading Unfunded Mandate Update: Competitive Bidding & Construction Notices

John Ashley Statement on State Budget

The state budget signed into law today (Sept. 21) significantly invests in our public school students and districts, one of the best investments we can make as a state.  The substantial increases in per-pupil aid and other categorical aids are welcome and vitally important to our public school districts that serve the vast majority of students in Wisconsin and are tasked with preparing all of them for college and/or careers.

I also applaud the mental health-related supports for students and school districts included in the state budget. These needs have been overlooked for too long.

I am disappointed that neither revenue limit relief for low-spending districts nor an increase/expansion of sparsity aid were included in the final budget.  Both are targeted to school districts that have special challenges and this was a lost opportunity.  I am also disappointed with the further expansions of private school vouchers and special needs vouchers which continue to take us down the path of funding dual education systems when we have not been able to maintain even inflationary increases for our constitutionally mandated public school system.  In addition, several policy items were included in the budget (e.g. teacher and administrator licensure changes, scheduling of referendum restrictions and restrictions for energy savings projects) that will impact the efficient operations of school districts.

Ultimately, I understand that a budget comes down to making hard choices with available resources and there will be provisions that school board members statewide both support and oppose.  On behalf of all 422 locally elected school boards in Wisconsin, I want to thank the governor and members of the Legislature for their public service and for the positive items included for public schools.  I also look forward to continuing to work with both the governor and lawmakers for the remainder of this legislative session.

Read:  WASB Summary of Key 2017-19 State Budget Provisions for Public Schools

Gov. Walker Announces Budget Vetoes Including Low Revenue Ceiling Increase

Governor Walker has announced his budget vetoes including eight vetoes  relating to K-12 education.  The most notable veto is the veto of the relief for low revenue districts. The language below is taken directly from the “Governor’s Veto Message in Brief“:

Low Revenue Ceiling

“”I am vetoing this section entirely because the result is a substantial increase in property tax capacity that school districts may exercise without voter input.  In several school districts that would be eligible to raise taxes under these sections, referenda to exceed revenue limits already failed within the past two years.  An increase in revenue authority from the state in these districts would circumvent purposeful, local actions. Continue reading Gov. Walker Announces Budget Vetoes Including Low Revenue Ceiling Increase

Gov. Walker Agrees to K-12 Vetoes; WASB Submits Veto Requests

In order to secure votes from Senate GOP holdouts for the state budget, Gov. Walker agreed to several vetoes, including the following related to K-12 education:

  • Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Exemption

Governor Walker originally proposed eliminating this exemption and the Legislature restored the program, albeit with a year-long moratorium preventing any projects for 2018. The Governor agreed to use his partial veto to alter the moratorium language.  It doesn’t appear he can repeal the language creating this exemption by using his partial veto pen.  However, it does appear he can creatively veto the moratorium provision in a way that would likely prevent districts that haven’t already adopted resolutions from being able to utilize this exemption for a very long time into the future. Continue reading Gov. Walker Agrees to K-12 Vetoes; WASB Submits Veto Requests

Aid Payment Schedule, Character Education Among Bills Discussed at Public Hearing

The Senate  Education Committee chaired by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) held a public hearing on Thursday, September 14th on the following bills listed below.

Senate Bill 329.  Relating to:  professional development training in character education for teachers, principals, and school district administrators, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.  WASB registered in support of this bill. Continue reading Aid Payment Schedule, Character Education Among Bills Discussed at Public Hearing

Assembly Passes State Budget Bill; Senate Support Uncertain

The state Assembly passed the state budget bill late last night on a vote of 57-39 with all Democrats and five Republicans (Reps. Scott Allen of Waukesha, Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, Bob Gannon of West Bend, Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake and Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin) voting NO on the bill.

The bill now goes to the state Senate where a Friday vote is planned even though they are currently short of the 17 needed votes to pass it.   Continue reading Assembly Passes State Budget Bill; Senate Support Uncertain