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
The WASB Delegate Assembly met and voted on proposed resolutions submitted by school boards and vetted through the WASB Policy & Resolutions Committee last week in Milwaukee at the Joint Education Convention. A recap, the Delegate Assembly Reporter, has been posted on our website.
The Delegates approved resolutions on state funding for mental health supports in schools, repealing the Sept 1 start date mandate, adjustments to revenue limits to allow low spending districts to catch up, and reaffirming local school board governance in relation to recovery school districts or other mechanisms among others. See all of the items in the Delegate Assembly Reporter.
Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) will not be required to take part in a controversial state-designed takeover program next year. MPS received news this week of its reprieve via a letter from state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers to MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, indicating that MPS is unlikely to meet the criteria for takeover during the 2016-17 school year. Continue reading No State Takeover of MPS Schools This Year
The chief of staff for state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), has been hired by the University of Wisconsin (UW) System to oversee the creation of independent charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Gary Bennett will head the new Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO), an entity proposed by Darling and other Republican legislators and approved last year as part of the state’s biennial budget process. He will assume that post April 1, according to the UW System.
The OEO will have the ability to bypass local school boards and directly authorize new independent charter schools in districts with more than 25,000 students. Currently, that’s just Madison and Milwaukee.
Continue reading UW System Hires Legislative Staffer to Oversee Creation of Independent Charter Schools in Madison
From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Demond Means, a Milwaukee Public Schools graduate who heads one of the state’s highest-performing school systems, has been tapped to lead — at least for now — a Milwaukee turnaround district mandated by the Legislature in hopes of turning around some of the city’s poorest-performing schools, County Executive Chris Abele is expected to announce Thursday.
Abele is scheduled to introduce Means, superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District, as commissioner of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program at a noon news conference. Continue reading Milwaukee County Exec. Selects Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent to Lead MPS Turnaround District
WASB Government Relations staff hand delivered our budget veto letter to Governor Walker this afternoon.
Suggested Ways Your Board and Your District Can Talk to Your Legislators, Your Parents and Your Communities About the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) Budget
What the JFC Budget Proposal means for districts generally…
From a funding standpoint:
- Funding support for public schools is slowly eroding.
- For the first time since revenue limits were imposed in 1993-94, there will be no adjustment in per pupil revenue limits in either year of the 2015-17 biennium.
- While the JFC proposal restored the proposed $127 million cut, there will be no increase in either general aids or per pupil aids in 2015-16.
- Merely restoring per pupil categorical aid to existing levels—a “no increase budget” in the first year, when expenses are going up, is “a cut by another name.”
- Much of the small increase in general aids in the second year (2016-17) will be offset by losses in aid due to expansion of statewide vouchers, special needs vouchers and independent charters.
- Special education categorical aid, the state aid that supports the education of students with disabilities, remains frozen in the proposed 2015-17 budget; it hasn’t been increased since 2008-09.
- While most other states have been increasing spending on public education at an average of 4 percent per year, public school funding in Wisconsin is essentially flat.
- Wisconsin will soon be spending less per pupil than the national average.
- We need a sustainable funding system with predictable increases in per pupil resources that match the rate of inflation.
- The public supports additional spending for schools. Recent public polls indicating that when asked which is more important: reducing property taxes or increasing spending on public schools, Wisconsin voters favored increasing school spending by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin.
- Our district has used the authority and flexibilities provided by Act 10 responsibly to regain control over much of the expense side of our budget. However, not all school district expenses can be controlled by Act 10. We ask that allowable resources for our students and all 860,000 public school students in our state allow us to keep pace with inflation to help us manage the costs we cannot control through the Act 10 tools. Continue reading Talking Points on the Joint Finance Committee Budget