The WASB Summer Leadership Institute is this Friday & Saturday (July 14-15) in Green Bay. The event will kick off with a networking dinner and inspiring keynote speaker and former Packer George E. Koonce, Jr. on Friday evening. Saturday will feature three tracks of programming focusing on:
–the fundamentals of board governance for members in their first term of office;
–advanced board governance for more experienced members; and
–a mix of popular topics featuring engagement at each level – with fellow board members, students, staff and the community.
At the conclusion of the event, all tracks will conclude with a legislative/budget update from Government Relations Director Dan Rossmiller. Dan will share details of what Capitol sources indicate the Senate and Assembly have agreed on (as well as predictions on what they are likely to agree on) and will be included in the Joint Finance Committee K-12 budget. Will the Governor’s proposed per pupil aid increases survive intact? What about help for low-spending districts? Sparsity aid? Voucher expansion? Attend the legislative/budget update session at 2:30 p.m. to find out.
Looking forward to seeing you this weekend in Green Bay!
Local government leaders from across the state testified in the state Capitol June 29 in support of a pair of proposals (Assembly Bill 386 and Assembly Bill 387–see also previous post) that would change how “big box” stores and certain national pharmacy chains are assessed for property tax purposes in Wisconsin.
Speaking before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, local government officials argued the bills would ensure businesses aren’t getting special treatment, and are paying their fair share of taxes. Continue reading Bills to Counter Property Tax Reduction Strategies Generate Day-Long Testimony
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a committee set up by administrators in the Appleton Area School District to assess a book list used in a high school communications arts course should have been subject to the State’s open meetings law. The decision overturned earlier court rulings that found that the committee was not a governmental body subject to public notice and other requirements.
The Court’s decision held that since the committee was formed and its membership was appointed using , in material respects, committee procedures that had been authorized by the school board for the purpose of reviewing and making recommendations on the district’s curriculum and instructional materials, it was a governmental body subject to the open meetings law: Continue reading State Supreme Court Decision on Open Meetings Impacts School Committees
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
Assembly Bill 268 is one of three bills designed to make it harder for school districts to pass referenda up for a public hearing tomorrow in the Assembly Education Committee. This bill would eliminate recurring operating referenda to raise revenue authority on a permanent basis. It would also limit multi-year non-recurring operating referenda to 5 years. Finally, and possibly most troubling, the bill eliminates referendum-approved revenue authority from a school district’s base budget that was approved in any previous recurring referendum five years after the effective date of the bill.
In other words, any school district that ever passed a recurring referendum would have that revenue authority cut off after five years and would then have to pass non-recurring referenda perpetually at least every five years just to retain what voters had already approved. According to a fiscal estimate of the bill prepared by DPI, this would amount to a cut in revenue authority of $178.5 million of previously approved referenda in 130 school districts. This amount figures in recurring referenda approved going back to September 1996.
Needless to say, the WASB strongly opposes this bill and has prepared testimony for the committee hearing tomorrow. For more information on the bill and our position on it, you can view the WASB’s testimony HERE.
The Assembly Republican school funding plan includes provisions we support and it is a positive sign that Assembly GOP legislators recognize the need to increase state aid for school districts. We appreciate and strongly support removing the “strings” of the healthcare cost shift mandate and how funding needs to be budgeted per school building to receive the proposed increases in per-pupil aid. The WASB also supports raising the low-revenue ceiling to help historically low-spending districts and increased funding for high cost special education aid. There are a wide range of other provisions included in the proposal that we are still reviewing.
However, we are concerned that this plan backs away from the governor’s proposed per-pupil categorical aid investments. The WASB does do not support reducing the governor’s proposed increase by $50 per pupil in 2017-18. The governor’s original proposal, for the first time in several budgets, provides nearly an inflationary increase in state aid to almost all school districts in the state.
Overall, we hope legislators will support the governor’s investments in per-pupil aid at the $200 and $204 per pupil level while also supporting local control and incorporating the positive proposals from the Assembly GOP on the low- revenue ceiling.
-John H. Ashley is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards
WASB Director of Government Relations Dan Rossmiller was interviewed for a segment on our support for returning local control to determining the school start date. The interview was featured on NBC 15 in Madison.
Click here to view the segment.