Borsuk: What Surprises Do Lawmakers Have in Store for Education?

By John Forester | May 22, 2017

Check out Alan Borsuk’s latest insightful column about what major policy prescriptions Wisconsin lawmakers may have in store for education.

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JFC Will Not Take Up K-12 Next Week

By John Forester | May 19, 2017

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will meet in Executive Session on Tuesday (May 23rd) and Thursday (May 25th)  next week.  The JFC will take up the budgets of the state agencies listed below.  Speculation is focused on JFC taking up K-12 education the week of May 29th.  Stay tuned.

May 23

Program Supplements

State Treasurer

Administration — Transfers

Administration — Facilities

Medical College of Wisconsin

Higher Educational Aids Board

Educational Communications Board

University of Wisconsin System

Children and Families — Economic Support and Child Care

May 25

Building Commission

Building Program

Health Services — Departmentwide

Health Services — Medicaid Services

Health Services — FoodShare

Health Services — Mental Health, Public Health, and Other Programs

 

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A Rift in School Choice Movement?

By John Forester | May 15, 2017

I found this Associated Press article on the divisions in the school choice movement interesting.  Check it out.

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School Law Update: Substantial Fault Standard for Unemployment Benefits

By John Forester | May 15, 2017

From the Legal Side…

The Boardman & Clark law firm recently published this School Law Update.  Eligibility for unemployment benefits is rarely the driving force behind a school district’s decision to terminate an employee. However, unlike in the private sector where employers pay a payroll tax to cover these benefits, school districts reimburse the state for the entirety of their former employees’ unemployment benefits. As a result, school districts take a direct hit to their budget when employees receive benefits, so it is important that districts have an understanding of benefit eligibility.

The SAA regularly receives these updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Boardman & Clark.

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JFC Will Not Take Up K-12 This Week

By John Forester | May 15, 2017

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will meet in Executive Session on Tuesday (May 16th) and Thursday (May 18th)  this week.  The JFC will take up the budgets of the state agencies listed below.  We still do not know when the JFC will take up K-12 education.

May 16th

May 18th

  • Labor and Industry Review Commission.
  • Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Historical Society
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief – Direct Aid Payment
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief – Property Tax Credit.
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief – Property Taxation
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief – Local Revenue Options

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Revenue Estimates Are Unchanged

By John Forester | May 15, 2017

If you missed it last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released an updated revenue estimates memo saying, “Based on the recent collections data and the new economic forecast, we believe that the current estimates are still reasonable and should not be adjusted.”

LFB Memo.

LFB January 18, 2017 Memo and estimates.

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Borsuk: Mental Health Issues Becoming Pervasive for Schools

By John Forester | May 15, 2017

Check out Alan Borsuk’s latest column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which he focuses on school mental health issues.  Brown Deer Superintendent Deb Kerr is quoted extensively.

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Education-Related Bill Introductions

By John Forester | May 9, 2017

The following important bills affecting education were introduced in the Assembly yesterday:

AB-300 Pupil Exam Information (Thiesfeldt, Jeremy) Providing information about mandatory pupil examinations. Referred to Assembly Government Accountability and Oversight

AB-304 Pupil Exam Opt-Out (Thiesfeldt, Jeremy) Allowing a pupil’s parent or guardian to opt out of certain statewide examinations. Referred to Assembly Government Accountability and Oversight

AB-307 Competitive Bidding Threshold (Brooks, Robert) Competitive bidding thresholds and requiring school districts to utilize competitive bidding. Referred to Assembly Local Government

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State Budget Video Alert

By John Forester | May 4, 2017

SAA members please watch this important 6 minute video alert on the state budget.  Portions of the video alert, including legislator contact information, appear below in text form.

State Budget Alert

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) wrapped up its 6 state budget hearings on April 21st and started voting on state budget items in executive session on Monday, May 1st.  At this point, we do not know when the JFC plans to take up K-12 budget issues.  We also do not know if (and when) the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) will issue new revenue estimates for the 2017-19 biennium.

SAA members have done an absolutely outstanding job up to now in our state budget advocacy efforts with letters/phone calls to legislators, legislative forums, and the strong showing we had at the JFC budget hearings.  More than 75 SAA members testified at these budget hearings – our strongest showing ever.  The feedback I have received inside the Capitol, in addition to public comments in the news, indicate that our advocacy efforts are having an impact on this budget process.

Yes, we have done a great job up until now, and many legislators are expressing their support for the governor’s school funding proposals, particularly the proposed increases in per pupil categorical aid.  But, if we are silent in the next 3-4 weeks of the budget deliberations, legislative support for K-12 funding could deteriorate significantly.

Governor Walker has signaled a willingness to fund transportation needs from general purpose revenues – the same source that funds school aid.  Assembly leaders have introduced a tax/transportation funding plan that, if adopted, could diminish available funds for public schools.  And we already know some legislators don’t support a significant increase for schools.

So, I implore you to act again on behalf of the children you serve.  I urge every SAA member to contact the 16 members of the Joint Finance Committee, as well as your own legislators, in support of the SAA’s State Budget positions as soon as possible.

I know many of you have already discussed these issues with your legislators and I thank you.  I also ask that you contact them again.  For your convenience, I have provided links to the Senate Directory, the Assembly Directory and Find My Legislators.  Please copy any of your written communications to the SAA.

In your communications, please cover the following:

  1. Express our strong support for the governor’s proposal to increase each district’s per pupil categorical aid from the current $250 per pupil by adding $200 per pupil in 2017-18 and an additional $204 in 2018-19.  Explain the importance of these increases in per pupil revenues in both fiscal and human terms.  In particular, emphasize the impact on educational opportunities for the kids you serve.
  2. Express our strong opposition to the budget provision which makes a district’s receipt of the new per pupil aid contingent upon the district certifying to DPI that district employees pay at least 12% of all costs and payments associated with employee health care plans in that school year.  Clearly, this provision interferes with district efforts to recruit and retain qualified staff.  It also diminishes the innovative ways districts have used the flexibility afforded under Act 10 to reduce costs and operate more efficiently.  Share with your legislators the steps you have taken under Act 10, and urge them to support removing this provision from the budget bill.  See the SAA testimony before the JFC on this issue.
  3. Express our strong opposition to the budget provision requiring districts to distribute new per pupil aid equitably to each school in the district based on enrollment.  Assembly Speaker Vos has recognized that this provision is “irrelevant” because each district could easily work around it making this provision a meaningless paper exercise.
  4. Express our strong support for the governor’s proposed increases in sparsity aid and high-cost transportation.
  5. Express our strong support for the governor’s school mental health initiatives.
  6. Express our strong support for increasing the low revenue ceiling from the current $9,100 per pupil to $9,500 in 2017-18, and $9,900 in 2018-19.
  7. Express our strong support for increasing state categorical aid funding for high cost special education to fully reimburse districts for costs exceeding $30,000 for any individual student.

Make no mistake about it.  We have to continue fighting for the governor’s proposed aid increases for public school children.  With the end of the school year approaching, I know you are busy.  But, I need you to carry the fight a bit longer.  It is vitally important for legislators to know we are still watching at this point in the budget process.

So, let’s stand up and fight for the governor’s proposed school aid increases.

Thanks for listening, and for all your efforts on behalf of Wisconsin school children.

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JFC Will Not Take Up K-12 Next Week

By John Forester | May 4, 2017

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will meet in Executive Session on Tuesday (May 9th) and Thursday (May 11th) next week.  The JFC will take up the budgets of the state agencies listed below.  We still do not know when the JFC will take up K-12 education.

May 9th
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board
Secretary of State
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Legislature
Justice

May 11th
Financial Institutions
Public Service Commission
Safety and Professional Services – Departmentwide
Safety and Professional Services – Regulation of Professions
Health Services – Medicaid Services Administration
Veterans Affairs

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