A record 144 small, rural Wisconsin school districts have received a total of $18.5 million in sparsity aid payments for the 2017-18 school year. These 144 school districts (comprising roughly 34 percent of Wisconsin’s 422 school districts) qualified for sparsity aid based on having a membership of 745 or fewer students and a density of less than 10 pupils per square mile of the district’s geographic area. Continue reading 144 Wisconsin School Districts Share In Sparsity Aid
With property tax bills set to be mailed this week, school property taxes are likely to come under scrutiny once again.
Although per pupil revenue limits on school districts meant to hold down property taxes were unchanged by the Legislature, 2017-18 school levies totaled $4.945 billion, a slight increase of $87.1 million (1.8%) over the previous year, according to Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) figures, and below the rate of inflation.
That increase in gross school levies will be more or less offset by an $87 million increase in the school levy credit, through which the state directly reduces the net tax due on taxpayers’ bills. Continue reading Statewide School Tax Levies Up Less Than Inflation
The Wisconsin Legislature wrapped up its fall floor period last week. Lawmakers won’t return to the floor again until January. The fate of any number of bills may depend on how many proposals the houses want to tackle.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told WisPolitics.com late last week that he expects the Assembly to meet for two weeks in January and two weeks in February as well.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said he expects the Senate to be in one day each in January, February and March. Continue reading Legislature Recesses Until January; Hopes Dim for Action on Sparsity Aid, Relief for Low-Revenue Districts
Ten school referenda will be on the ballot Tuesday in various school districts across the state. It will mark the last time school boards will be able to place ballot questions before voters on a date that doesn’t coincide with a regularly scheduled election under new restrictions enacted as part of the 2017-19 state budget.
Effective January 1, 2018, school district referenda to exceed revenue limits and to issue bonds will be limited to being held only on regularly-scheduled election days (i.e., the February spring primary or April spring general election, or the August (fall) partisan primary or November general election). Districts will be further restricted to calling referenda on just two dates per calendar year.
From the Department of Public Instruction (DPI):
As part of 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, the minimum passing score on the civics test for high school graduation set forth by Wis. Stat. s. 118.33(1m)(a)1. was increased from 60 to 65 out of 100. The way the law currently reads, current students who have not obtained a score of at least 65 are ineligible to receive a high school diploma. This means that students who previously scored between 60 and 64 but have not yet received a diploma will be required to retake the civics test to obtain this new statutory minimum. The DPI does not believe the legislature intended to nullify scores previously considered passing prior to Act 59. Therefore, the DPI will work with the legislature to amend the current language under Wis. Stat. s. 118.33(1m)(a)1. to apply the higher-score requirement under Act 59 to only those students who had not already obtained a passing score prior to September 23, 2017, the effective date of Act 59.
Please consider waiting for further details on this potential legislative amendment before requiring students to retake the Civics Graduation Requirement exam.
Fears that the state might not be able to comfortably afford the sizable increase in state school aids approved in the 2017-19 state budget may be eased by news that Wisconsin closed its fiscal year on June 30 with a larger than expected ending balance.
The state ended Fiscal Year 2017 with a $579 million surplus in its main account, the second largest closing balance since 2000. That figure was up $112 million from the previous projection of $467 million as revenues were up and spending was down from earlier forecasts.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education awarded approximately $253 million in new federal grants to fund the creation and expansion of public charter schools across the nation. The grants were awarded to state educational agencies and other state entities, charter management organizations (CMOs) and other non-profit organizations across the country. Continue reading Wisconsin Is One of Nine States to Receive New Federal Charter School Grants