2014 School Referenda Results

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

The Wheeler Report has granted permission for the SAA to post its report detailing school referenda results from January, February and April 2014.  See the report here.

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Senator Schultz Gives His Farewell Address

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

On Tuesday, Senator Dale Schultz gave his farewell address to the Wisconsin Senate.  See the video of his speech here.

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Kestell Will Not Seek Re-Election

By John Forester | April 2, 2014

Representative Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Education and one of the foremost authorities on education issues in the Legislature, announced Tuesday that he will not seek election to a ninth term in the Assembly.

The SAA has worked with Chairman Kestell for many years.  And, while we didn’t always agree on education policy issues, we did understand and appreciate that he painstakingly weighed the evidence and made his decisions based on what he thought was the right thing to do for the children and the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  That type of reasoned, deliberate approach will be sorely missed in the Assembly.

Steve Kestell is a great friend of public education.  We will miss him.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

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High Stakes Referendums in Rural Districts

By John Forester | March 31, 2014

Dozens of cash-strapped school districts are asking taxpayers to raise property taxes to support educational opportunities for children.  This news story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also comments on the work of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

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Really? You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!

By John Forester | March 25, 2014

From time to time in the 25 years I have spent in and around state government, something has taken place that leaves you scratching your head and mumbling, “Oh my God!  You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Such is the case with a head-scratcher that took place this past weekend.  It seems the 6th Congressional District Republican Caucus felt the need to pass a resolution of “non-support” and “no confidence” in Senator Luther Olsen and Representative Steve Kestell.

Really.  And, I’m not kidding you.  The resolution appears below.

2014 –Resolution of non-support and no-confidence for Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. Steve Kestell

WHEREAS the Republican Party of Wisconsin adopted a resolution calling for the rejection of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) at the 2013 state convention, for numerous reasons listed therein and

WHEREAS the Republican National Committee at its 2013 spring meeting adopted a resolution rejecting the Common Core State Standards for all the reasons stated therein and

WHEREAS Common Core State Standards are nothing more than a continuation of the past failed programs of the Federal Department of Education and the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction that sought to indoctrinate students instead of educating them and

WHEREAS State Senator Luther Olsen obviously has and continues to act as a biased champion for CCSS in Wisconsin and has failed to withdraw his involvement in educational matters in which he has a conflict of interest as between his and his wife’s interests and that of taxpayers and constituents

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell have remained manipulative, misleading and unaccountable in their dealings with Wisconsin citizens, even with their own constituents who have repeatedly voiced their wishes and been ignored by Senator Olsen, Rep. Kestell and their office staffs alike and

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell appear to have personal and independent motives in their promotion of Common Core State Standards which do NOT reflect the views of the members of the Republican Party of the 6th District, the Republican Party of the State of Wisconsin, and the Republican National Committee and

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell do NOT seem to have the ability, inclination or commitment to represent the views and positions of their constituents regarding education issues in the 6th District, the State of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell resign their positions as state chairs of the education committee and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Republican 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin, in caucus assembled, assign Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell a vote of no-confidence and a declaration of non-support and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be delivered to ALL Wisconsin Republican legislators and the Governor before April 1st, 2014.

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What School Bills Did, and Didn’t, Pass?

By John Forester | March 24, 2014

Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel penned an interesting article this weekend in which she takes a look at what happened to the major education bills before the legislature this legislative session.

See Journal Sentinel Story here.

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Assembly Passes Senate Accountability Bill

By John Forester | March 21, 2014

After intense debate in the Assembly Republican Caucus yesterday, the Assembly did not take up a flawed accountability proposal (ASA 1 to SB 286) that included sanctions for low-performing schools.  Instead they concurred in SB 286 as passed by the Senate.  The SAA supported this action.  The bill now moves on to the Governor’s desk.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

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Assembly Concurs in SB 478 (Fund 80)

By John Forester | March 21, 2014

The Assembly yesterday passed Senate Bill 478 (as amended) , and messaged it back to the Senate.  We anticipate Governor Walker will sign it into law in the coming weeks.  For more information about the bill, see the SAA’s March 19 post on Senate passage.

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Senate Passes Fund 80 Bill

By John Forester | March 19, 2014

Yesterday, the state Senate passed SB 478 (as amended), relating to school district expenditures for community programs and services.  Given the intense political pressure to pass legislation on this issue, the SAA worked with the authors of SB 478, Senator Cowles and Representative Steineke, and the DPI to fashion the framework for the amended bill that passed the Senate yesterday.

The bill (as amended) does 3 things:

1)      It directs DPI to promulgate rules defining “eligible costs” for community programs and services under Fund 80 and provides that only those expenditures that are eligible costs under the rules are excluded from a school district’s revenue limit;

2)      It requires each school district’s annual audit report to provide information about the district’s expenditures for community programs and services; and

3)      It allows the DPI to decrease the revenue limit otherwise applicable to a school district in any school year by an amount equal to the school district’s ineligible expenditures for community programs and services in the previous school year.  The amount of the decrease, if any, does not affect the base for determining the school district’s revenue limit for the following school year.

We anticipate that the Assembly will concur in Senate passage of SB 478 on Thursday.

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SB 589: On To The Governor’s Desk

By John Forester | March 19, 2014

In floor action yesterday, the Assembly concurred in the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 589, relating to removing the current 180-day requirement.  The bill generated no opposition.  It now awaits Governor Walker’s signature.

The SAA strongly supported this legislation from its inception (See SAA testimony here).  Special thanks to Senator Luther Olsen and Representative Steve Kestell for bringing the legislation forward and for allowing the SAA to participate in the bill development process.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

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