State Assembly Republicans unveiled their goals for the next legislative session, labelled the Forward Agenda and focusing on the economy, education and public safety, on Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.
The education proposal garnering the most media attention is a plan to provide a tablet or laptop computer to every high school freshman in the state, regardless of their income or whether they attend a public, private or charter school. Included in the plan is an initiative allowing students without internet access at home to check out portable wi-fi hot spots from their school. Another idea raised in the plan is to begin providing wi-fi capabilities on school buses. Continue reading Assembly Republicans Unveil Legislative Agenda for 2017-18
Hiring effective and dedicated teachers is one of a school board’s most important duties and one that is becoming more and more challenging as teacher shortages are being reported across the country to varying degrees. WASB members are aware of these challenges and have been for some time. In 2015, the WASB Delegate Assembly passed three resolutions specifically relating to teacher shortages.
One resolution called for the WASB to “support state and federal initiatives to assist rural school districts in their efforts to attract and retain high quality staff, including student loan forgiveness programs and grants for teachers who commit to work in rural school districts for at least a minimum number of years as determined by the legislature”.
To implement this resolution, the WASB Government Relations team worked with Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Chetek, pictured) to outline a number of options to help rural school districts to attract and retain teachers. Those discussion gave rise to Assembly Bill 793 which would create a rural teacher loan forgiveness program. The bill passed both the Senate and Assembly and currently awaits the governor’s signature. Already, some lawmakers are hopeful the program can be expanded in the next state budget.
Continue reading How the 2015-16 Legislature Addressed Teacher Shortage Issues
Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 449 into law today at Brown Deer High School.
“This law will make it easier for school districts to fill much-needed teaching positions with professional and experienced individuals, which will assist in allowing school districts to offer courses in vocational areas that may not currently be offered to help Wisconsin students learn about in-demand careers and better prepare them for the workforce,” said the Governor.
Senate Bill 449 creates an experience-based licensure process for teaching vocational education subjects similar to the process created for technical education subjects in the 2015-17 biennial budget. Continue reading Gov. Walker Signs Vocational Education Teacher Licensure Bill Into Law
Governor Walker plans to sign two bills relating to K-12 education today. They are:
AB 478 Pupil Records of Pupils in Out-of-Home Placement – Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan)
This bill is designed to permit child welfare workers to gain access to pupil records of pupils in out-of-home placement (e.g., foster care). It incorporates into state law recent changes made to the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal educational privacy law) by the Uninterrupted Scholars Act.
The bill will permit a school board, on request, to disclose pupil records that are pertinent to addressing a pupil’s educational needs to a caseworker or other representative of DCF, a county department, or a tribal organization that is legally responsible for the care and protection of the pupil, if the caseworker or other representative is authorized by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), that county’s department, or that tribal organization to access the pupil’s case plan. Continue reading Governor to Sign Two Education Bills Today
The state Assembly plans to meet on Tuesday and Thursday this week and then adjourn for the session. The Senate plans to continue meeting until the middle of March. The floor period schedule the Legislature passed at the beginning of the session calls for the 2015-16 session to end April 7. Leaders in both houses have decided to end the session earlier than scheduled. Before adjourning the Assembly plans to take up a number of K-12 education related bills.
The following bills are on the proposed Assembly calendar for Tuesday, February 16:
AB-751 Special Needs Scholarship Program (Jagler, John (R)) This bill makes technical changes to the special needs scholarship program created in the 2015-17 state budget (Act 55). The WASB is neutral on this bill but strongly opposes Assembly Amendment 3 which would reduce the revenue limit authority of the 142 public school districts that currently have resident pupils participating in the statewide and Racine voucher programs by $14.2 million annually. This revenue limit authority protects the affected school districts against the loss of state aid that follows resident pupils to the voucher school.
AB-517 School Crime Reporting (Jagler, John (R)) This bill requires high schools to report the numbers of specified crimes and other incidents that occur on school property, on school transportation, and at school sanctioned events and granting rule−making authority. While we are sympathetic to the author’s intent, the WASB has opposed this bill, in part, because it will impose new unfunded costs and responsibilities on school districts. (The future of this bill in the Senate is unclear at present.) Continue reading Assembly to Vote on Several Education Bills This Week Before Adjourning