Select Page

Senate approves legislation on low revenue ceiling and including referendum interest on the ballot

Today the state Senate met in floor session and took up and passed two pieces of legislation of interest to school leaders. Senate Bill 395 related to the low revenue ceiling and Senate Bill 83 related to posting referendum interest estimates on the ballot. 

SB 395: School Revenue Ceiling

Under current law, the per pupil revenue ceiling is $11,000 in the 2023-24 school year and each school year thereafter. Current law also provides that, during the three school years following a school year in which an operating referendum fails in a school district, the school district’s revenue ceiling is the revenue ceiling that applied in the school year during which the referendum was held. The bill eliminates the provision under which a school district’s revenue ceiling is the revenue ceiling from a previous school year because an operating referendum failed in the school district.

The WASB supports this legislation.

The Senate approved the bill on a vote of 31-1, with only Sen. André Jacque (R-DePere) voting against. The bill now heads to the state Assembly where the education committee has not voted out the bill yet. It is important to contact your state Representatives to urge that they follow their Senate colleagues and support the bill.

SB 83: Posting Accrued Interest Estimates on the Ballot

Under current law, whenever a municipality, county, or school district must hold a referendum seeking voter approval for issuing bonds, the referendum question must include a statement of the purpose for which bonds are to be issued and the maximum amount of the bonds to be issued. Under this bill, the statement included with the referendum question must also provide the estimated amount of the interest accruing on the amount of the bonds, along with the interest rate. If the interest rate is a variable rate, the statement must also specify the amount of the interest accruing on the amount of the bonds calculated using the lowest rate during the term for which the rate is applicable and the amount of the interest accruing on the amount of the bonds calculated using the highest rate during the term for which the rate is applicable.

The WASB opposes this legislation because posting an estimate of the accrued interest on the ballot could open up a district to legal action from a constituent if the estimate is too far off from the final amount.

The Senate approved the bill on a vote of 22-10. The bill now heads to the state Assembly where the education committee has not voted out the bill yet. We urge members to ask their state Representatives to not support this unworkable legislation.

Bill draft would expand alternative pathway to FORT for teacher license candidates

State Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz, pictured), along with Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Rep. James Edming (R-Glen Flora) have put out a bill draft for other legislators to sign on to show their support (co-sponsorship memo). The bill draft (LRB 2218/1) would expand the ability of all teacher license candidates to demonstrate competency in reading instruction outside of passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). Currently, this alternative pathway is only available to special education initial licensees.
The WASB supports this bill draft (WASB Resolution 4.61 (d), see below*) and encourages school leaders to contact your state legislators to ask them to sign on to LRB 2218/1 from Rep. Mursau. The deadline for legislators to sign on to this bill is 5pm on Wednesday, Oct. 25. After this deadline, the bill will be formally introduced in each house and given bill numbers (e.g., Assembly/Senate Bill XXX). The more legislators that sign on to the bill, the more likely it will be able to move through the legislative process.

The WASB thanks Rep. Mursau, Sen. Felzkowski and Rep. Edming for authoring this important proposal in an environment of teacher supply challenges for school districts. (more…)

Senate committee holds public hearing on governor’s workforce development package

The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technical Colleges chaired by Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) is holding the hearing today at the Capitol. Senate and Assembly leaders took no action on the legislation during the Sept. 20 special session called by Gov. Evers, but promised to address the issues with ideas of their own and kept the session open. 

From the Wisconsin Examiner: “The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a summary of the governor’s proposal Monday. 

“Last week, Evers urged Sen. Feyen to hold a hearing soon on the legislation, Special Session Senate Bill 1Feyen responded that he would do so once the fiscal bureau report was in hand. After that report was distributed Monday, Feyen added the legislation to the committee’s agenda for a meeting already scheduled for Wednesday. The hearing is scheduled for 10:31 a.m. in the state Capitol.

“The fiscal bureau report calculates that the Evers proposal will cost $1.36 billion over the two-year budget period. About $1.1 billion of that would come from the state’s general purpose revenue, with another $41 million from federal funds and $243 million from segregated state funds.”

Items of interest to school board in the proposal include payments to child care programs established or contracted for by a school board, significant changes to family and medical leave law (FMLA), allowing Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) annuitants to return to work; and various grants and stipends to address teacher workforce challenges. See more below: (more…)

JFC objection withdrawn: private school-related costs will be included in data portal

The anonymous legislator or legislators on the Joint Finance Committee have withdrawn their objection to moving forward with a public school financial data portal being developed by the Department of Public Instruction. The WASB views this as a positive development that should allow the process of developing the portal to continue based on recommendations from a bipartisan advisory committee.

See previous WASB release and blog post on the topic. (more…)

WASB Supports Financial Transparency for All Taxpayer-Supported Schools

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has concerns that a proposed school finance dashboard may exclude data on private schools that directly impacts public school district budgets and taxpayers.

2021 Wisconsin Act 89 requires the Department of Public Instruction to create an online portal that displays financial data for public schools, including independent charter schools. The WASB supported the legislation that became 2021 Act 89 to provide the public with transparency in school budgeting.

School district funding and finances are complex, and creating a user-friendly, simple portal for the public is no easy task. To accomplish this, the act created an 11-person advisory committee to advise DPI on the portal’s development, including recommendations on what information would be featured. The committee was made up of six Republican appointees, three Democratic appointees and two appointees by State Superintendent Jill Underly. The committee included state Sens. Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) and Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville). (more…)