During last week’s State Education Convention, state Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), who co-chairs the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, shared information about the Commission’s mission and schedule, including a memo outlining the scope of the Commission’s directive.
According to the Blue Ribbon Commission’s Scope Statement, the Commission is tasked with evaluating the following items:
Continue reading Focus of Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding Clarified
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is set to publish school and school district report cards tomorrow morning.
We expect DPI’s news release to go out at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, and the public report cards will be available after that, likely by or around 7 a.m.
Continue reading DPI to Release School District and School Report Cards Tomorrow
The costs of Wisconsin’s three voucher programs (Milwaukee, Racine and Statewide) will reach just under $270 million in the current 2017-18 school year, according to figures released today by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), which oversee the state’s voucher programs.
The costs of voucher programs will jump by $25 million this year over the previous (2016-17) school year.
In addition, public school districts across the state will have their state aid reduced by nearly $43 million to pay the costs of voucher students who reside in their districts and who first enrolled in and participated in the Statewide or Racine voucher programs in 2015-16 or later. These students are referred to in state law as “incoming” voucher pupils. Continue reading Statewide Tab for Private School Vouchers Reaches $270 Million
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.
Read: WASB Summary of Key 2017-19 State Budget Provisions for Public Schools
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 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