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
Please check out a column in the Appleton Post Crescent written by Appleton Area School Board member Jim Bowman and former AASD CFO and current advisor Don Hietpas. This is a great example of school board/district advocacy and one other boards can use as a model.
The column argues against the bill currently being considered by the state legislature that would eliminate recurring operating referenda, limit multi-year non-recurring operating referenda to 5 years, and eliminate referendum-approved revenue authority that was approved in any previous recurring referendum five years after the effective date of the bill (Referendum Restriction Bill Is Worse Than You Thought). Great job Jim and Don! Continue reading Appleton Column on Referenda Restriction Bill
The WASB testified in opposition to a bill (Assembly Bill 307) that would require school districts to use the competitive bidding process on all construction projects above $75,000. The WASB determined its position 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. (See previous post.)
Continue reading WASB Testifies in Opposition to Competitive Bidding Mandate
A bill requiring school districts to utilize competitive bidding for school construction projects has been scheduled for a public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Local Government, chaired by Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg). The hearing will be held:
Wednesday, July 12
Room 400 Northeast, State Capitol Continue reading Competitive Bidding Bill Scheduled for July 12 Hearing
The WASB has developed a sample board resolution and letter in opposition to the package of referenda restriction bills currently being debated in the state legislature. We also have samples focusing on the bill that would prohibit recurring referenda and force nearly a third of Wisconsin’s school districts to roll back recurring revenue authority approved by voters in local referenda dating back to 1996, a move that would reduce their collective local taxing authority by nearly $180 million per year. Continue reading Referenda Restriction Sample Materials Available
Michael R. Ford, Ph. D., Assistant Professor in Public Administration at UW-Oshkosh, wrote a blog post on the subject of limiting school district referenda, which is currently being debated in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Should School Referenda be Limited?
I say no. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has a nice summary of proposed legislation that would restrict the ability of school districts to go directly to the voters for permission to exceed state imposed revenue caps. As I detailed last summer, Wisconsin is experiencing an uptick in both the number and success of school district referenda. The likely reason is the fiscal stress facing many Wisconsin school districts. The move to restrict referenda is a backlash to the willingness of school districts to go repeatedly to their voters to ask for more revenue. Click here to read the rest of his post.
The former director of research for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) and for a school choice advocacy group, Dr. Ford has more recently focused his research on how school boards impact student achievement through the degree to which board members share a common definition and view of accountability. Dr. Ford has twice been a guest speaker at the annual fall WASB Legislative Advocacy Conference.
School board members, district administrators, business officials and others came to the Capitol June 15 to testify at concurrent Senate and Assembly public hearings on bills that are part of an overall package that would severely restrict the ability of school districts to go to referendum and gain additional revenue authority.
The Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), heard three of the bills and the Senate Government Operations Committee, chaired by Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), heard two. The overall theme of testimony presented by school leaders was these bills represent unwanted and unnecessary state intrusion and micromanagement into how local school board conduct their fiscal affairs. In addition, a case was made that these bills will have serious negative consequences for many school districts, including many small, rural districts experiencing declining enrollment. Continue reading School Board Members, Administrators Make Case Against Referendum Restrictions