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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More Start Date Resolutions

By John Forester | April 6, 2017

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

Please forward your letters and resolutions to the SAA.

Amery Resolution

Granton Resolution

Mt. Horeb Letter

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Notes from JFC Hearing

By John Forester | April 6, 2017

Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee held it’s second 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:  Blake Peuse (St. Francis), Pat DeKlotz (Kettle Moraine), Bryan Davis (Shorewood), Deb Kerr (Brown Deer),  and Darienne Driver (Milwaukee Public Schools).  The following business managers also provided testimony: John Stellmacher (Hartford Joint 1), Jonathan Mitchell (St. Francis) and Blaise Paul (South Milwaukee).  Other members of the Brown Deer leadership team joined Superintendent Kerr in testimony as well.  Many thanks to these SAA members for their leadership.

Blake Peuse and Jonathan Mitchell Testimony 040517

Brown Deer Team Testimony 040517

Bryan Davis and Paru Shah Testimony 040517

Darienne Driver Testimony 040517

John Stellmacher Testimony 040517

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

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

  • You will only have 2 minutes to testify.  There will likely be no questions from legislators.
  • Bring 1 hard copy of your testimony with your full contact information on it for the committee members. (This is a change from previous years when I suggested 20 hard copies.  JFC staff has changed their process.)
  • Use the information in the SAA’s recent Budget Alert to stay on message.  It is very important for us to stay focused.

We need a strong showing at the remaining JFC budget hearings.  If you have questions about testifying please call me.

Here are the upcoming hearing locations and times:

See also news coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Of particular interest see “School Funding Debate” discussion.

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Referendum Results

By John Forester | April 5, 2017

From The Wheeler Report:

Passed:
Failed:

District Name

Total Amount

Type

Brief Description

Amery

Passed

$1,900,000.00

RR – 2017 Referendum to exceed revenue cap commencing with the 2017-18 school year by an amount of $1,900,000.
Arrowhead UHS

Failed

$36,680,000.00

Issue Debt To issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $36,680,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a campus-wide school building and improvement program consisting of:  renovations to instructional areas, classrooms, special education, and design, engineering and manufacturing areas; site and storm water management improvements; security, life safety and building and technology infrastructure updates; storage areas and a new science lab as additions to the existing school buildings; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment..
Barron Area

Failed

$7,000,000.00

Issue Debt General obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $7,000,000 for the purpose of remodeling the current gymnasium and adding another gymnasium at the High School.
Bonduel

Failed

$3,000,000.00

NR – 2017 To exceed the revenue cap by $1,000,000 annually for three years for operating expenses.
Burlington Area

Failed

$68,300,000.00

Issue Debt Constructing and equipping a new middle school, and district-wide building and infrastructure improvements
Burlington Area

Failed

$11,700,000.00

Issue Debt Constructing and equipping additional gym and athletic space at the high school
Burlington Area

Failed

$14,400,000.00

Issue Debt Constructing and equipping a new performing arts center
Cameron

Failed

$1,025,000.00

RR – 2017 Operational referendum for recurring purposes consisting of classroom resources and supplies, classroom technology related expenses, transportation and maintenance expenses, and to maintain adequate staffing levels.
Clintonville

Failed

$24,900,000.00

Issue Debt 24.9M bond issue to build a new elementary school.
Cuba City

Passed

$6,400,000.00

Issue Debt Middle School Addition and Remodeling of Elementary School
Cuba City

Failed

$4,900,000.00

Issue Debt School building and improvement program consisting of construction of a gymnasium addition at the High School.
Denmark

Passed

$14,900,000.00

Issue Debt Referendum Debt Issue of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $14,900,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school improvement program at District
Denmark

Passed

$2,775,000.00

NR – 2017 AUTHORIZING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET TO
EXCEED REVENUE LIMIT BY $925,000 A YEAR FOR
THREE YEARS FOR NON-RECURRING PURPOSES
Eleva-Strum

Passed

$12,000,000.00

Issue Debt The construction, furnishing and equipping of a new pre-K through grade 5 elementary school wing attached to Central Middle/High School; and renovations, capital maintenance and building infrastructure improvements, site improvements and acquisition of furnishings and equipment at Central Middle/High School.
Eleva-Strum

Passed

$2,100,000.00

NR – 2017 Funding will be used for ongoing maintenance and educational programming.
Grafton

Passed

$39,930,000.00

Issue Debt Issue General Obligation Bonds not to exceed $39,930,000 for the purpose of paying for improvements to all District buildings and grounds including additions and remodeling at the high school; remodeling and additions to the Woodview and Kennedy Elementary Schools; razing and removing the Grafton Elementary School; constructing a new District maintenance building; renovations to the District offices; District-wide site work and infrastructure upgrades; and equipment acquisition related to said projects.
Green Bay Area

Passed

$165,000,000.00

NR – 2017 Question #1: Authorization to exceed the revenue limit on a non-recurring basis of 10 years by $16,500,000 to allow the District to approach the state average consisting of: maintaining educational programming and class sizes; and retaining staff
Green Bay Area

Passed

$68,250,000.00

Issue Debt Question #2: Authorization to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $68,250,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a district-wide school building and facilities improvement plan consisting of: reconstruction of Baird Elementary School; additions, renovations and improvements to increase capacity, to provide safe and secure entrances and offices at multiple elementary schools, and to improve instructional, support and community service space; renovations and improvements for fine arts facilities; and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
Hayward Community

Failed

$10,000,000.00

NR – 2017 To exceed revenue limit by $2,000,000 for 5 years on a non-recurring basis for educational programs and services.
Holmen

Passed

$900,000.00

NR – 2017 Holmen High School site improvements: expanding student and guest parking (+145), constructing on-site access drives to alleviate traffic congestion, and develop two physical education/athletic fields.
Holmen

Failed

$300,000.00

NR – 2017 Construction of additional seating and installing of a multi-purpose synthetic turf at Empire Stadium. Partially funded by a non-recurring referendum to exceed the revenue limits. Larger share of the funding from private grants/gifts/donations & advertising secured through community fund raising in the amount estimated at $1,014,000.
Holmen

Passed

$2,848,203.00

NR – 2017 Safety and Security capital improvements: digitally controlled door access and locking systems, school main entries reconstructed to be two-state passages, security camera surveillance systems at schools and public street development to relieve school traffic congestion at the intersection of Briggs and McHugh Road.
Howard-Suamico

Failed

$4,000,000.00

RR – 2017 Exceed Revenue Cap by $4m
Hustisford

Failed

$5,825,000.00

Issue Debt School improvement project at district facilities, for remodeling, renovation, and modernization including additional classrooms and a gymnasium at the elementary school.
Little Chute Area

Passed

$1,375,000.00

NR – 2017 Authorize the school district to exceed revenue limit by $275,000 per year for five years for technology.
Little Chute Area

Passed

$17,770,000.00

Issue Debt Paying the cost of a school building and improvement program at the Intermediate/Middle/High School campus – includes infrastructure and site improvements, renovations and remodeling of specified areas, and construction of an addition
Mayville

Passed

$24,500,000.00

Issue Debt Referendum not to exceed $24,500,000 for the construction, equipping and furnishing of additions to the Mayville High School, including new Agricultural Science and Technical Education classrooms and new physical education facilities; site improvements at Mayville High School; and renovations and infrastructure improvements and safety and security upgrades at Parkview Elementary School, Mayville Middle School and Mayville High School.
Menomonee Falls

Failed

$6,400,000.00

NR – 2017 RESOLUTION PROVIDING FOR A REFERENDUM ELECTION
ON THE QUESTION OF THE APPROVAL
OF A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET
TO EXCEED REVENUE LIMIT
FOR THREE YEARS FOR NON-RECURRING PURPOSES
(ENDING IN THE 2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR)
Mosinee

Failed

$35,000,000.00

Issue Debt
Mosinee

Failed

$5,200,000.00

Issue Debt
Mosinee

Failed

$1,100,000.00

Issue Debt
Mosinee

Failed

$159,836.00

RR – 2018
Mount Horeb Area

Passed

$38,500,000.00

Issue Debt Additions and remodeling for secure entrances at our District’s schools; additions and renovations for new classroom and academic space, and an expanded cafeteria at the High School; roof replacement and HVAC upgrades at the Middle School; and other capital improvements and building infrastructure improvements at District facilities. Included are the acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
Necedah Area

Failed

$800,000.00

RR – 2017
North Fond Du Lac

Passed

$27,000,000.00

Issue Debt Authorizing General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $27,000,000 for renovations to Early Learning Center and Friendship Learning Center and addition to Friendship Learning Center.
North Fond Du Lac

Passed

$2,500,000.00

Issue Debt Authorizing General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $2,500,000 for renovations to Bessie Allen Middle School and Horace Mann High School
Oconto Falls

Passed

$11,500,000.00

NR – 2017 Excess revenues to be used to fund bussing, improve/maintain educational technology, update curriculum, and support/maintain facilities and operations.
Osceola

Failed

$3,800,000.00

RR – 2017 RESOLUTION TO EXCEED REVENUE CAP
COMMENCING WITH
THE 2017-18 SCHOOL YEAR
Pardeeville Area

Passed

$11,935,000.00

Issue Debt Building Referendum
Pardeeville Area

Passed

$130,000.00

RR – 2018 Revenue Control
Pardeeville Area

Passed

$3,400,000.00

NR – 2018 Revenue Control
Parkview

Passed

$1,050,000.00

NR – 2017 Authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $350,000 a year, for non-recurring purposes during the 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-2020 school years.
Pecatonica Area

Passed

$325,000.00

RR – 2017 $325,000 recurring for operational expenses, deferred maintenance projects, technology and curriculum improvements.
Riverdale

Passed

$3,000,000.00

NR – 2017 exceed limits by $600,000 non-recurring
Rosholt

Passed

$735,000.00

NR – 2018 For the purpose of maintaining the present level of programming and operations in the District.
Rosholt

Passed

$700,000.00

RR – 2017 For the purpose of maintaining the present level of programming and operations in the District.
Saint Croix Falls

Passed

$5,200,000.00

Issue Debt To pay for the cost of school improvement and maintenance program at District facilities and grounds
Salem

Passed

$3,010,000.00

NR – 2017 Exceed the revenue limit by $870,000 for the 2017-2018 school year, by $1,070,000 for the 2018-2019 school year, and by $1,070,000 for the 2019-2020 school year, for non-recurring purposes consisting of general operating costs associated with maintaining the current levels of educational programming, technology, and facilities.
Seymour Community

Passed

$1,860,000.00

RR – 2018
Southern Door County

Failed

$1,872,000.00

NR – 2017 Ongoing operational expenses necessary to maintain current educational programs.
Southwestern Wisconsin

Passed

$10,000,000.00

Issue Debt To address deferred maintenance issues, install secure entrances, add additional classroom space/wing to accommodate the Middle School moving to the High School, band room addition, gym-atorium for performances and upgrade facilities to provide a 21st century learning environment.
Southwestern Wisconsin

Failed

$2,500,000.00

Issue Debt Update and redesign our athletic facilities to add a track around the football field, add concession stand with restrooms, and improve the baseball and softball fields.
Thorp

Passed

$4,500,000.00

Issue Debt Operation and maintenance of existing building and construction of three building additions.
Thorp

Failed

$3,200,000.00

Issue Debt Construction of activity center for fine arts performances and youth athletic practices.
Tomahawk

Passed

$12,000,000.00

NR – 2017 $3M/year for 4 years.
Turtle Lake

Passed

$4,631,000.00

NR – 2017 To exceed revenue cap for non-recurring purposes consisting of education for students, operations and deferred maintenance projects.
Verona Area

Passed

$162,760,000.00

Issue Debt Construction of new high school and auditorium, renovation and reconfiguration of current Verona Area High School and Badger Ridge Middle School, district-wide capital and building infrastructure improvements and repairs and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
Verona Area

Passed

$18,520,000.00

Issue Debt Construction and equipping of a swimming pool, competition athletic fields and related facilities on the new high school site.
Verona Area

Passed

$2,289,747.00

RR – 2020 Exceed the revenue limit by $2,289,747 for the 2020-2021 school year and thereafter for recurring purposes consisting of operational expenses for new district facilities and grounds.
Wabeno Area

Passed

$8,000,000.00

NR – 2017
Wabeno Area

Passed

$300,000.00

NR – 2017
Washington

Passed

$1,109,000.00

NR – 2017 For the support of ongoing educational programs and services in order to provide quality opportunities for each student to achieve his or her academic and personal potential.
West Allis

Failed

$12,500,000.00

NR – 2017 An operational referendum to cover rising costs of expenses, retention of staff, and develop new programming.
Wisconsin Heights

Passed

$4,111,202.00

NR – 2017 Two year non-recurring purpose – Exceed Revenue cap for general operating costs
Yorkville J2

Failed

$490,000.00

RR – 2017 Exceed revenue cap by $490,000 on a recurring basis, beginning 2017-2018 school year, for operations, maintenance, technology and academic programs.

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Evers Re-Elected

By John Forester | April 5, 2017

From WisPolitics.com

State Superintendent Tony Evers chalked up his easy win over challenger Lowell Holtz to his role as “the chief advocate” of public school kids.

Evers also struck an optimistic tone last night about the future of the state, telling reporters and a crowd of some 50 supporters in downtown Madison, including Dem legislative leaders Rep. Peter Barca and Sen. Jennifer Shilling, that despite the problems Wisconsin faces, “we can roll up our sleeves and solve them.”


Still, he addressed issues the state needs to solve to enhance the education environment for public school students, including better addressing mental health issues and allocating more money to districts. But he conceded the state’s in a good starting place with Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget plan.


He mentioned Holtz, former superintendent of Whitnall School District, only once and not by name, calling him instead “my opponent.” Evers said Holtz’s “view of the world is a lot different than mine,” adding “my view won.”


In an interview with
WisPolitics.com, Evers attributed the lack of big outside money flowing in to support Holtz’s campaign to the quality of Evers’ own campaign.

“I think it’s because we had a good campaign and people didn’t want to invest in my opponent,” he said.


But Evers added he thinks people respect that he takes “difficult positions, even though they may not be popular,” he said, citing his stance on whether transgender kids should use the bathroom they identify with and guns in schools.

Evers was on pace to easily top his margins of victory for his first two terms.

With almost all precincts in, Evers had 494,845 votes, or 70 percent, while Holtz had 212,529, or 30 percent.


In 2013, Evers beat then-GOP Rep. Don Pridemore with 61.1 percent of the vote.


In 2009, Evers won his first term over school choice advocate Rose Fernandez with 57.1 percent.


The just more than 700,000 people who voted in the state superintendent race is a little under 16 percent of the state’s voting age population.


Heading into Tuesday, the Elections Commission projected turnout could be between 13 and 18 percent, based on past spring elections where there was a contested DPI race, but a Supreme Court justice running unopposed.

Holtz said he raised important issues in his bid for state superintendent even though he came up well short of knocking off Evers.

Holtz said he was at a resource disadvantage compared to Evers, who outraised him better than 2-to-1. Between Jan. 1 and March 20, Holtz pulled in $117,190, while Evers collected just north of $360,000.


Evers also benefited from a $225,000 TV ad buy from the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee.


“There’s only so much you can do shaking hands,” Holtz said on a conference call.


Holtz said he wished Evers well and hoped others would step up to help the superintendent address issues, such as the achievement gap between white and minority students.


“I’m really hoping that while I might not have been in the position where I wanted to be, I really hope that we raised issues and awareness that parents don’t ever have to put up with failing schools, businesses shouldn’t put up with failing schools and our communities shouldn’t put up with them,” Holtz said.

See also Wisconsin State Journal article by Molly Beck.

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