Lazich Will Not Seek Re-Election; Craig to Run

By John Forester | March 22, 2016

From WisPolitics:

Senate President Mary Lazich announced yesterday she will not seek re-election in fall.

The New Berlin Republican was elected to the Assembly in 1992, to the Senate in 1998 and re-elected since then. She served as Senate president this term.

Lazich did not say in her announcement why she chose not to seek another term.

But she said she believes the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker have made the state much more “fiscally secure.”

“Wisconsin residents and business are much better situated to pursue life with less government intrusion and with freedom to live, educate, and work with greater independence,” Lazich said.

State Rep. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, told WisPolitics.com he’s running for the Senate seat being vacated by Lazich.

Craig, who won his Assembly seat in a 2011 special election, declined to say how long he’s been mulling over a bid for the Senate. He promised he will not be a “run of the mill conservative voice” in the race, pledging his campaign would focus on a theme he borrowed from Ronald Reagan that when government expands, liberties contract.

“I applaud Mary and all of her work that she’s done and her spot in Wisconsin history for being the president of the Senate and doing a fine job at that,” Craig said. “Now I’m just going to be clear to my constituents, the constituents of the 28th Senate District, that now is a good time. It’s time for a fresh, conservative voice in the Senate.”

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Wish List For Youth Mental Health

By John Forester | March 21, 2016

Check out the column by Greg Nyen, Director of Student Services at Stevens Point Area Public School District, in which he lays out his wishes for youth mental health policy in Wisconsin.

Nice job Greg!

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Jorgenson Not Seeking Re-Election

By John Forester | March 16, 2016

From WisPolitics.com …

Dem state Rep. Andy Jorgensen announced today he will not seek re-election to the Assembly this fall as he runs for Rock County Register of Deeds.

Longtime Register Randy Leyes is retiring, and his deputy Sandy Disrud has announced plans to run for the office as well.

“I’ve always enjoyed talking directly with my neighbors about the issues that matter to them, which is probably why I’ve held more than 500 listening sessions in the district, as a state representative,” Jorgensen said. “Serving at the county level will give me a chance, every day, to help people one-on-one, while being a bit closer to home.”

He joins Dem Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd and six GOP lawmakers in announcing plans not to seek re-election this fall. The Republicans are: Sen. Rick Gudex, of Fond du Lac; and Reps. Dave Heaton, of Wausau; Dean Knudson, of Hudson; Tom Larson, of Colfax; and John Murtha, of Baldwin.

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Badger, ACT Results Available for All Schools

By John Forester | March 16, 2016

According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), data dashboards with public school- and district-level results from the 2014-15 administration of the Badger, Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM), and ACT Plus Writing exams are now available through the WISEdash Public Portal (http://wisedash.dpi.wi.gov/). Statewide results, which were reported in January, can be found online (ACT and Badger).

In addition to public school and district data available through WISEdash, Badger and ACT results for schools in the Milwaukee, Racine, and Wisconsin Parental Choice programs can be found online at http://dpi.wi.gov/assessment/parental-choice-program/data.

Additional information is available in DPI’s news release.

Please direct comments or questions about this news item to Tom McCarthy, (608) 266-3559, or Thomas.McCarthy@dpi.wi.gov. (DPI staff members monitor calls and messages every business day.)

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Walker Signs Voc Ed Licensure Bill Into Law

By John Forester | March 9, 2016

Yesterday, Governor Walker signed Senate Bill 449 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 259.  The new law will allow school districts to hire non-traditional candidates that qualify for an “experience-based” teaching license to teach vocational education subjects.

The new law addresses the concerns of some school leaders that have concluded they either get flexibility in the licensure of vocational education candidates or they will have to close popular academic programs.  Other school leaders have concerns about the message of the new law (“Professional teacher preparation and licensure is no longer necessary in Wisconsin”) and its long-term effects on the profession.  The SAA failed to achieve consensus among its members on this issue.

We continue to encourage lawmakers to convene a high-level effort of all relevant PK-16 stakeholders to develop a long-term, comprehensive approach to attack our recruitment, retention and educator training problems here in Wisconsin.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel News Article here.

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School Law Update: WERC Recertification and Voting Records

By John Forester | February 26, 2016

From the Legal Side…

The Boardman & Clark law firm recently published this School Law Update.  A recent Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (“WERC”) decision involving a union recertification election reinforces the importance of checking bargaining unit voter 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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Senator Harris Dodd Won’t Seek Re-Election

By John Forester | February 25, 2016

From WisPolitics.com…

Freshman Dem State Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, of Milwaukee, announced today she will not seek re-election this fall.

“As the eldest of 13 siblings, I have never shied away from making difficult decisions or taking on tough challenges. My decision to not seek re-election is at the top of the list of many difficult decisions I have made,” she said. “My love, passion, and commitment to improve conditions for citizens of Milwaukee will continue to be my driving force.”

She is the first Dem state lawmaker to announce plans not to seek re-election this fall. She joins GOP Sen. Rick Gudex, of Fond du Lac, and Reps. Dave Heaton, of Wausau; Dean Knudson, of Hudson; Tom Larson, of Colfax; and John Murtha, of Baldwin, in deciding against seeking re-election this fall.

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Murtha Will Not Seek Re-Election

By John Forester | February 22, 2016

From WisPolitics.com …

State Rep. John Murtha, R-Baldwin, is retiring, Speaker Robin Vos said this morning.

Murtha, who turns 65 in August, was elected to his seat in 2006 and served as majority caucus chair this session.

He joins GOP Reps. Dave Heaton, of Wausau; Dean Knudson, of Hudson; and Tom Larson, of Colfax, in deciding against seeking re-election this fall.

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LFB Memo on Compromise Amendment to SB 615

By John Forester | February 22, 2016

Here is a link to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) memo detailing the fiscal impact of Assembly Amendment 1 (the compromise) to SB 615 on the 142 school districts impacted by the Racine and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs.  The LFB estimates the loss of revenue cap authority under the amendment to be $5.284 million spread across the 142 districts.

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Assembly Passes SB 615 With Compromise Voucher Funding Amendment

By John Forester | February 19, 2016

The battle over the voucher funding shift entered its final act (with the ending not in doubt) as the Assembly passed, on a 56-37 vote, a scaled back version of a bill (Senate Bill 615 as amended) that would reduce the non-recurring exemption for “incoming choice pupils” to equal the state aid deduction for voucher students  beginning in 2016-17.

The collective reduction in revenue cap authority under this bill would be about $5.3 million for the 142 school districts with voucher students.  That compares to previous versions of the proposal that had collective reductions in revenue cap authority of first $22.7 million, and then $14.2 million.

The Senate is expected to pass this latest compromise version of the bill on March 15th.

Throughout this multi-week battle, the SAA’s position has never wavered.  We support current law.

Assuming the Senate passes the bill as amended by the Assembly and Governor Walker signs it, the voucher funding shift will be complete.  During this legislative session, Republicans succeeded in shifting how Wisconsin pays for voucher expansion from state tax dollars to local property taxpayers.  And as we look to the future, this means that two Republican policy objectives, voucher expansion and property tax relief, are on a collision course . . . with public schools in the middle.

Thanks for listening, and as always, thanks for all your efforts on behalf of Wisconsin school children.  Every Child, Every Day.

See Wisconsin State Journal news story here.

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