WisconsinEye recently sat down with key state legislative leaders on K-12 education to discuss a variety of issues as we begin the new school year. State Senators Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) & Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and State Reps. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) & Sondy Pope (D-Mt. Horeb) sat down with Steve Walters to discuss a variety of topics including the state budget, school funding challenges, school vouchers, charter schools and more.
Access the full video here.
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
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
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
Today (Sept. 6), the U.S. Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a bipartisan FY2018 funding bill for the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies, that is $3 billion above the FY2017 level and $27.5 billion above the President’s budget request.
The Senate subcommittee also rejected President Trump’s proposed cuts to teacher training and afterschool funding (see below). Full Senate committee consideration of the funding measure is scheduled for Thursday. The 2018 federal fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
Here are capsule descriptions of some of the key funding provisions for K-12 education:
Continue reading Federal Appropriations Bill for Education Gains U.S. Senate Subcommittee Approval
Charter schools are public, nonsectarian schools created through a businesslike contract or “charter” between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board or other chartering authority. The charter defines the missions and methods of the charter school. The chartering authority holds the school accountable to its charter.
Throughout the history of charter schools in Wisconsin it has been local school boards which have authorized or sponsored the vast bulk of charter schools in Wisconsin and to which charter schools are accountable. That could be about to change in a big way. Continue reading JFC Budget Would Broadly Expand Independent Charter Schools’ Reach
Last week Congress avoided a possible shutdown of the federal government when it approved and sent to President Trump a consolidated appropriations bill (H.R. 244) to fund public education and other federal programs throughout the remainder of federal Fiscal Year 2017, which runs through Sept. 30. The so-called “omnibus” bill (H.R. 244) was passed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 309-118 and by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 79-18. It was signed into law by President Trump on May 5.
Overall, in the education area, the FY 2017 omnibus bill, makes net cuts of about $1.1 billion, but provides a more than a $1 billion increase compared with comparable 2016 funding levels for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, Impact Aid, and student support programs under Title IV (ESSA). The text of the bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education is available here. Continue reading President Signs Spending Bill to Fund Federal Government Thru Sept. 30