U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Wisconsin Redistricting Case

By John Forester | June 19, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s Assembly district maps, setting up the prospect of the justices establishing a new standard for a map being too partisan.

The court will review a decision by a three-judge panel that ruled the maps Republicans drew in 2011 amounted to a partisan gerrymander. That panel of judges ordered Republicans to draw new maps by November so they can be in place by next year’s elections.

See the Wisconsin State Journal article here.

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Senate GOP Low Revenue Plan

By John Forester | June 19, 2017

Check out this article by Jason Stein in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlighting the Senate GOP approach to helping low revenue districts.

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Something to Consider About the Current Budget Debate

By John Forester | June 16, 2017

As we think about the provisions of the Assembly Education Plan, particularly the proposed increase in the low revenue ceiling and the impact the plan would have on the Governor’s proposed $200/$204 per pupil categorical aid increase, it is easy for us to envision the long-term positive impact for low-revenue districts to raise their per pupil revenue cap.

What about the long-term impact of reducing the per pupil categorical aid by $50 per pupil in the first year and $54 in the second year of the 2017-19 biennium?

The Assembly Education Plan would increase the per pupil categorical by $150 per pupil in 2017-18 and an additional $200 per pupil in 2018-19, not the $200/$204 proposed by the Governor.  This results in a $50 per pupil reduction to the Governor’s proposal in 2017-18 and a $54 reduction in 2018-19 (and arguably every year thereafter in the per pupil categorical aid program).

Now that the per pupil categorical aid program has been a part of Wisconsin’s school finance landscape for the last several state budgets, many Capitol observers believe it has become a relatively permanent fixture of our school finance system.  The higher you build the payment over time, the more difficult it is for politicians to repeal it or reduce it.

So then, assuming the per pupil categorical aid remains a fixture of the Wisconsin school finance system for the next decade, wouldn’t the “loss” of $50 +$54 per pupil in this budget equate to a ten-year “loss” of $536 per pupil? (That would be 9x$54 + $50 = $536)

Something to consider.

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SAA Members Oppose Referendum Bills at Hearings Yesterday

By John Forester | June 16, 2017

Superintendents Bruce Quinton (Pepin) and Ben Niehaus (Florence), as well as Don Hietpas, CFO of the Appleton Area School District, carried a powerful message of opposition to three referendum bills (AB 282, AB 268 and AB 269) at an extremely long public hearing held yesterday by the Assembly Committee on Education.  Numerous school board members and other education advocates also expressed their opposition to these bills.  In addition, SAA Executive Director John Forester delivered testimony that included a long-term perspective on Wisconsin school referenda using information produced by Robert W. Baird & Company for a recent conference presentation.

These SAA members, board members and advocates also opposed two of these referendum bills (SB 191 and SB 195) at a “hastily called” public hearing held by Senator Stroebel’s Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

Hats off to Bruce, Ben and Don for their leadership and dedication.  Yesterday was a long, grueling day in the State Capitol.  But, the message delivered was a powerful one.  Many thanks, gentlemen.

Niehaus Testimony

Quinton Testimony

Hietpas Testimony

Forester Testimony

Warren Testimony

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Is JFC Getting Close to K-12 Deal?

By John Forester | June 16, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Before adjourning last night, JFC Co-chair John Nygren told members to keep next Thursday open on their calendars.

Nygren and his fellow co-chair, Sen. Alberta Darling, told reporters earlier yesterday they’re much closer to working out a deal on education than they are on transportation.

Darling said though the co-chairs haven’t scheduled meetings yet, she hopes the committee can come back next week and finish off education and taxes.

Nygren said while education likely won’t be “that large of a stumbling block,” the Senate GOP’s position on bonding for transportation projects will be.

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SAA, Coalition Raise Concerns Over Special Education Items in Assembly Education Plan

By John Forester | June 16, 2017

 

The SAA, in coalition with other education and disability rights groups, sent a memo to Assembly Republican leaders and the Joint Finance Committee expressed “grave concerns

with proposed state budget changes to two programs that impact students with disabilities in Wisconsin: the Special Needs Scholarship Program and the open enrollment program for special education.”

Check out the memo here.

 

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Walker Courts Public Schools While Preparing for Re-Election

By John Forester | June 12, 2017

Check out Molly Beck’s latest news story in yesterday’s Wisconsin State Journal on Walker’s k-12 budget proposals and competing education budget plans in the legislature.

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Borsuk on Equitable Funding for All Children

By John Forester | June 12, 2017

Check out Alan Borsuk’s latest column in which he takes a  broader historical perspective on the issue of revenue limit equity.

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Assembly Education Committee to Hold Hearing on Three Referendum Bills

By John Forester | June 9, 2017

The Assembly Education Committee will hold a public hearing on the following bills at 10:00am on Thursday, June 15 in Room 417 North, State Capitol.  You will note that three of the bills — AB 268, AB 269, and AB 282 — have to do with school referenda and are part of the package of six bills on school referenda introduced earlier this spring.  SAA members interested in testifying against these bill are encouraged to contact the SAA.

Assembly Bill 282

Relating to: consideration of resolution to issue bond by common and union high school districts and prohibiting voting on a resolution to exceed the revenue limit of a school district at a special meeting.

Assembly Bill 268

Relating to: school board referendums to exceed revenue limit applicable to a school district.

Assembly Bill 269

Relating to: scheduling of school district referendums to exceed revenue limits.

Assembly Bill 329

Relating to: prohibiting aiding and abetting sexual abuse.

Assembly Bill 77

Relating to: state aid payments to school districts.

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SAA, WASB, SWSA, WiRSA Issue United Capitol Budget Memo

By John Forester | June 9, 2017

“We believe there are sufficient resources in this budget to fully fund both the $200/$204 in per pupil categorical aid and a significant increase in the low revenue ceiling.  That is our collective position.”

That is the key message from a collective state budget memo issued this morning by the School Administrators Alliance, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, the Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance and the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance.

See the memo here.

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