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
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.
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
- 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
Updated: The state Senate voted 19-14 to pass the state budget and send it to Gov. Walker after he agreed to certain vetoes to gain the support of Senate GOP holdouts Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville).
Read More: Scott Walker strikes deal with Republican holdouts as Wisconsin Senate passes budget (Cap Times)
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
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) budget includes modifications to the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP) school takeover law that are aimed at the Racine Unified School District (RUSD). The school district is not mentioned by name in the language of the motion adopted by the JFC but that language describes a school district with characteristics that currently apply only to RUSD. (Statutory language of the budget bill will be finalized in the next few days, before the JFC-approved version goes first to the Assembly, then the Senate, for votes on the floor of those houses next week.)
Under current law, the OSPP law applies to a school district that: (1) has a pupil membership is greater than 15,000; (2) was assigned to the lowest performance category on the accountability reports (report cards) published for the district in the 2 most recent school years; and (3) received intradistrict transfer aid in the same 2 most recent school years. Continue reading JFC Budget Includes School Takeover Provisions Aimed at Racine Unified