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51 school referenda on Nov. 3 ballot

A total of 51 local school district referenda questions in 41 school districts will be before voters when they go to the polls on Nov. 3.  

Twenty-one of the 51 ballot questions request permission to issue debt for construction of new facilities or the maintenance or remodeling of existing school facilities.  Overall, voters will be asked to approve nearly $927 million in borrowing for these projects. The largest asks are in Madison ($317 million); Wausau ($155 million) and Oshkosh ($107 million). The ballot questions in these three districts alone account for 62 percent ($579 million) of the overall borrowing requested statewide.

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DPI readying rule changes to provide teacher licensing flexibility during COVID pandemic

Many school districts across the state are facing teacher and staff supply challenges that have been made worse by the pandemic.  As we reported in an earlier blog post, the WASB–along with other K-12 advocacy groups–has urged legislative leaders to take up and pass a set of statutory changes to address, among other things, teacher licensing flexibility, and potential revenue losses due to fluctuations in September pupil counts.

In response to calls for greater teacher licensure flexibility amid that challenges posed by the pandemic, the DPI has initiated rulemaking changes to Chapter PI 34, the administrative rules chapter relating to teacher licensing.  The department is referring to these changes as “Licensing flexibilities during a pandemic declaration” in its scope statement. (more…)

Update on cloth mask distribution to schools and child care centers

As we reported in an earlier blog post,  the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced in late August that it would be making up to 125 million cloth face masks available to states for distribution to schools.  Wisconsin’s share of this distribution is to be 1.6 million masks.

At the time of our earlier blog post, it was unknown when the masks would arrive.  We now have an update to report. 

According to sources in touch with staff of the state Department of Health Services (DHS) and Wisconsin Emergency Management that are working on this project, the state received a shipment of cloth face masks from DHHS last week. However, the amount the state received is half of what it had been expecting and the masks that were received are sized for middle and high school students. The other half of the shipment is expected to arrive in late September to early October.  

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Leg. Council symposia examine early access to autism treatment

On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the Joint Legislative Council will host an online discussion on the experiences of individuals and families navigating pathways to diagnosis, treatment, and support of autism as told by an occupational therapist with specialized training in working with children with autism, navigators who work in various parts of the state, and the co-director of a clinic providing innovative approaches to autism services in Milwaukee.

This session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is the third of four sessions on the topic of autism.  It will be covered live on WisconsinEye. (more…)

Some suggestions to provide help with school districts’ technology needs

School districts having difficulty coping with the unexpected costs associated with COVID-19 may find unexpected help from their underlying municipalities. 

That’s because municipalities that do not plan to fully utilize their allotment from the Routes to Recovery program, funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, may be able to partner with school districts. The municipality can, or example, purchase laptops or tablets, etc., for distance learning and teleworking for their schools and donate them to the district.

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