Notes From Final JFC Hearing

By John Forester | April 24, 2017

Last Friday, the Joint Finance Committee held it’s last public hearing on the 2017-19 state budget bill in Marinette.  The SAA was well-represented with the following school superintendents providing testimony:  Todd Carlson (Gillett), Wendy Dzurick (Marinette), Kim Eparvier (Peshtigo), Bec Kurzynske (Pulaski), Michelle Langenfeld (Green Bay), Aaron Malczewski (Oconto), Patrick Rau (Bonduel) and Mike Richie (Northland Pines).  The following business mangers delivering testimony were:  Jacob Holtz (Sturgeon Bay) and Brian Walters (Marinette).  Other administrative team members from Green Bay and Pulaski joined their superintendents in testimony as well.  In addition, John Forester delivered testimony on the “ACT 10 Compliance” provision.  Many thanks to these SAA members for their leadership.  See the news coverage here.

Bec Kurzynske Testimony

Brian Walters Testimony

 

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Borsuk: No Time to Lose on Education

By John Forester | April 24, 2017

Check out Alan Borsuk’s latest column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  The event referred to was hosted by the SAA on April 3rd in collaboration with Senator Luther Olsen and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  It was framed around the recommendations from the NCSL study, No Time to Lose.

You can access videos of major presentations from the event here.

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Notes From JFC Hearing

By John Forester | April 20, 2017

Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee held it’s fifth of six public hearings on the 2017-19 state budget bill in Ellsworth.  The SAA was well-represented with the following school superintendents providing testimony:  Barry Cain (Ellsworth), Mary Ann Hardebeck (Eau Claire), James Kuchta (Amery), Mark Luebker (Osceola), Patrick Olson (New Richmond), Bruce Quinton (Pepin), Eric Russell (Baldwin-Woodville), Cathleen Shimon (Clayton), Rick Spicuzza (Prescott), Jerry Walters (CESA 11), and Joe Zydowsky (Menomonie).  Many thanks to these SAA members for their leadership.

Mary Ann Hardebeck Testimony

James Kuchta Testimony

Mark Luebker Testimony

Patrick Olson Testimony

Bruce Quinton Testimony

Eric Russell Testimony

Jerry Walters Testimony

Joe Zydowsky Testimony

For those of you planning to testify at the Marinette hearing, here are my suggestions:

Get there early.  I know the hearing does not start until 10:00 a.m., but if you wish to speak before 1:00 p.m. get there by 7:30 a.m.

We need a strong showing at this final JFC budget hearing.  If you have questions about testifying please call me.

Here is the final hearing location and time:

10 am – 5 pm: Friday, April 21, Marinette High School Auditorium, Marinette

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Notes from JFC Hearing

By John Forester | April 19, 2017

Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee held it’s fourth of six public hearings on the 2017-19 state budget bill in Spooner.  The SAA was well-represented with the following school superintendents providing testimony:  John Burnett (Spooner), David Bridenhagen (Shell Lake), Randy Drost (Rice Lake), Paul Uhren (Ladysmith), Kent Kindschy (Turtle Lake) and Kevin Shetler (Siren).  The following Minoqua-area superintendents also provided testimony in support of the Governor’s school funding provisions and requested state support for a pilot school largely designed to meet the needs of the area’s autistic students: Jim Ellis (Minoqua J1), Larry Ouimette (Lac du Flambeau), Jim Bouche (Lakeland UHS), Brent Jelinski (North Lakeland) and Jocelyn Smith (Arbor Vitae-Woodruff). Many thanks to these SAA members for their leadership.

Kent Kindschy Testimony

Kevin Shetler Testimony

For those of you planning to testify at one of the remaining hearings, here are my suggestions:

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Editorial: Stroebel Again Attacking Local Government

By John Forester | April 17, 2017

Check out the editorial on the school referendum bill drafts by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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GOP Lawmakers Take Aim at School Referendums

By John Forester | April 17, 2017

Check out the news coverage on the referendum bill drafts by Annysa Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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30 Schools to Participate in Special Needs Scholarship Program

By John Forester | April 11, 2017

The Department of Public Instruction has posted a list of the 30 schools that have registered to participate in the Special Needs Scholarship Program for the 2017-18 school year. Applications for new student scholarships open July 1 as required in statute.

Additional information is available in the DPI news release here.

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More Start Date Resolutions

By John Forester | April 11, 2017

Check out the school board resolutions below in support of school start date repeal.

Please forward your letters and resolutions to the SAA.

Mayville Resolution

Turtle Lake Resolution

Westby Resolution

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Notes from JFC Hearing

By John Forester | April 10, 2017

Last Friday, the Joint Finance Committee held it’s third of six public hearings on the 2017-19 state budget bill in West Allis.  The SAA was well-represented with the following school superintendents providing testimony:  Bob Eidahl (Berlin), Stan Mack (Oshkosh), Mary Pfeiffer (Neenah), Lee Allinger (Appleton), Jim Smasal (Kewaskum), Bec Kurzynske (Pulaski), Tonya Gubin (Waupun), Jim Sebert  (Fond du Lac), Mary Allen (Green Lake), Erik Olson (West Bend), Daren Sievers (Slinger), Paul Amundson (Campbellsport), Kyle Cronan (Port Edwards), and Bob Mayfield (Kimberly).  The following business managers also provided testimony: Andrew Thorson (Neenah), Joe Marquardt (New London) and Becky Hansen (Kimberly). Many thanks to these SAA members for their leadership.

Kyle Cronan Testimony

Bob Eidahl Testimony

Bec Kurzynske & Team Testimony

Jim Smasal Testimony

 

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JFC to Work Off Walker’s Budget Bill; Policy Items Pulled From Budget

By John Forester | April 7, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Joint Finance will work off the guv’s budget as it begins making changes except for the Department of Transportation, where the committee will use current law as its starting point, according to a memo distributed today.

The decision ends weeks of speculation over whether the committee would ignore Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals on items like K-12 education and moving to a self-insurance model for state employees and instead use the base budget as its starting point.

It also, observers say, bolsters the likelihood that Walker’s proposal to pump $649 million in additional state aid into K-12 schools will largely survive after the committee finishes its work on the budget. Those who favored starting from the base budget argued it would give lawmakers the ability to stress, for example, how much they put into public schools in new aid vs. current law rather than the focus being on how much less they approved compared to Walker’s plan, if the committee chose to reduce the increase.

Walker focused on the implications for his K-12 proposal in a statement.

“As I have traveled to every county for listening sessions and visited schools districts throughout Wisconsin, one message is clear — we need to take our Reform Dividend and invest it in K-12 education,” Walker said. “That is what my budget does, and by keeping my proposal today, the Legislature recognizes the need to make public education a top priority.”

Meanwhile, the decision also means the committee, controlled 12-4 by Republicans, will need nine votes to change Walker’s proposals other than in Transportation.

There, the committee would need nine votes to adopt Walker’s plan, which calls for focusing largely on local road maintenance and eschewing investing in new, major highway projects. That has been one of the biggest areas of disagreement between Walker and legislative Republicans, particularly in Assembly leadership.

JFC Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said Transportation remains the most contentious piece of the guv’s proposal and starting from the base gives the committee more options. She said some lawmakers continue to look at user fees to boost the fund’s resources, though a gas tax hike remained a tough sell and at this point her caucus would not support an increase.

“We want everything on the table, and we feel that by using the base it gives us more room” to make changes, Darling said.

JFC member Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, questioned where Republicans could find money to bolster transportation.

“Are we going to be doing this budget on the backs of our children by not providing the increase that the schools wanted and needed?” she said.

JFC Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, said GOP lawmakers recognize K-12 spending is a priority for the guv. Still, he said the overall education package could be tweaked before the budget is sent back to Walker. For example, he said some have questioned if all schools should get the per-pupil increases Walker proposed through categorical aids. Some, Nygren said, would like to look at directing more of that money toward low-spending districts to help them catch up with others rather than spreading it equally across the state.

“Could it end up looking a little bit different than he proposed? I think it could, and we made that statement to them,” Nygren said of his conversations with the Walker administration.

The committee also is pulling 83 policy items Walker proposed, including proposals to eliminate the minimum number of instruction hours provided by public schools and requiring UW graduates to have an internship or work experience.

The committee also is pulling out Walker’s calls to repeal the prevailing wage for state projects and banning project labor agreements. A standalone PLA bill has already cleared both houses of the Legislature and is awaiting Walker’s signature.

Nygren said the prevailing wage proposal was pulled because it was policy and because the committee is starting from base on transportation. He did not see a problem with the proposal in general and said it would pass as a separate bill or be included in an overall transportation package before the budget is finished.

Other policy proposals being pulled include:

*Walker’s call to centralize printing and mail services under DOA, allowing local governments to publish some documents online rather than in the paper of record. Newspapers and open government advocates had raised concerns about the proposal. There’s also a separate bill on the publishing requirements now before the Legislature.

*Requiring the DATCP and the DNR to study the possibility of transferring the regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations from the DNR to DATCP.

*Requiring the Legislature to submit a plan ahead of every two-year budget to keep its spending flat and to reduce it by 5 percent. The Legislature included a similar provision in the 2015-17 budget imposing such a requirement on state agencies.

*Deleting the requirement schools boards meet at least once a month and have an annual meeting each July.

*Permitting UW System students to decline paying the portion of segregated fees that support campus groups.

*Requiring UW schools to lay out how to complete a bachelor’s degree in each major within three years.

*Requiring UW schools to monitor teaching workloads for faculty and report those hours publicly.

*Adding language to state statutes on the importance of academic freedom on UW campuses.

Read the memo here.

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