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Legislative Update

Capitol Watch: Numerous education focused bills are up for committee action on January 17th

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Legislative Update Blog, State Issue

While educators, school board members, and school leaders from across the state gather in Milwaukee next week for the 2024 Wisconsin State Education Convention, lawmakers will also be gathering in Madison to discuss numerous education related bills on Wednesday, January 17.
In the Assembly, the Committees on Education and Local Government are set to take action on bills ranging in topics such as civics and cursive education mandates, establishing bidding thresholds for school districts, and requiring boards to include the estimated accrued interest on issued bonds on the ballot with a referendum question for issuing said bonds. On the Senate side, the Committee on Education will be hearing bills on remote proctoring of the FORWARD exam, a parental bill of rights, and a grant program for firearm detection software in schools The Committee on Economic Development and Technical Colleges will also be hearing a bill with expansive changes to youth apprenticeship programs, CTE programs, and part time open enrollment.

Read below for a full line up of next Wednesday’s events.

Assembly Education Agenda

Public Hearing

  • Assembly Bill 898 — Relating to: required instruction in civics in the elementary and high school grades, high school graduation requirements, and private school educational program criteria.
    By Representative Nedweski; cosponsored by Senator Wanggaard

    “This bill requires the state superintendent of public instruction to promulgate rules to develop a model curriculum and instructional materials for grades kindergarten to 12 on civics to prepare pupils to be civically responsible and knowledgeable adults. The model curriculum and instructional materials must be
    designed to assist pupils in developing all of the following:
    1. An understanding of pupils’ shared rights and responsibilities as residents of this state and the United States and of the founding principles of the United States.
    2. A sense of civic pride and desire to participate regularly with government at the local, state, and federal levels.
    3. An understanding of the process for effectively advocating before governmental bodies and officials.
    4. An understanding of the civic-minded expectations of an upright and desirable citizenry that recognizes and accepts responsibility for preserving and defending the benefits of liberty inherited from previous generations and secured by the U.S. Constitution.
    5. Knowledge of other nations’ governing philosophies, including communism, socialism, and totalitarianism, and an understanding of how those philosophies compare with the philosophy and principles of freedom and representative democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.”

    “Requirements for school boards beginning in the 2025-26 school year:

    Include in their respective curricula instruction in civics that includes the five components required to be included in the model curriculum. The bill also requires school boards to annually report to the Department of Public Instruction regarding how they are meeting the civics instruction requirement created under the bill. DPI must then compile the information and submit it to the legislature.”

    “Requirements for graduation beginning in the 2027-28 school year:

    Currently, a high school pupil must earn at least three credits of social studies, including state and local
    government. The bill specifies that the social studies credits also must include one-half credit of civics instruction.”

  • Assembly Bill 937 — Relating to: incorporating cursive writing into the state model English language arts standards and requiring cursive writing in elementary grades.
    By Representative Melotik; cosponsored by Senator Ballweg

    “This bill requires the state superintendent of public instruction to incorporate cursive writing into the model academic standards for English language arts. The bill also requires all school boards, independent charter schools, and private schools participating in a parental choice program to include cursive writing in its respective curriculum for the elementary grades. Specifically, each elementary school curriculum must include the objective that pupils be able to write legibly in cursive by the end of fifth grade.”

Executive Session

See the WASB’s previous blog post for more information on these bills.

  • Assembly Bill 450 — Relating to: ready-to-use glucagon rescue therapies in schools.
    By Representative Moses; cosponsored by Senator James
  • Assembly Bill 592 — Relating to: allowing representatives of certain federally chartered youth membership organizations to provide information to pupils on public school property.
    By Representative Rettinger; cosponsored by Senator Cabral-Guevara
  • Assembly Bill 638 — Relating to: requiring school boards to make textbooks, curricula, and instructional materials available for inspection by school district residents.
    By Representative Dittrich; cosponsored by Senator Knodl
  • Assembly Bill 758 — Relating to: an alternative teacher certification program for an initial license to teach.
    By Representatives Snyder; cosponsored by Senator Knodl

Senate Education Agenda

Public Hearing

  • Senate Bill 611 — Relating to: remote proctoring of certain pupil assessments.
    By Senator Jagler; cosponsored by Representative Wittke

    “Current law requires school boards, charter schools, and private schools participating in a parental choice program to administer a state assessment to pupils in grades 3 to 8 and 10, commonly known as the Forward Exam. This bill allows the Forward Exam to be administered through remote proctoring if the school board, charter school operator, or private school governing body administering the Forward Exam has in place a remote proctoring policy that contains at least all of the following requirements:
    1. The examination must be administered at an assigned date and time set by the school within the testing period.
    2. The pupil must attend a synchronous examination session initiated and managed by school personnel.
    3. The examination must be administered to the pupil using a device through which the pupil is monitored by the examination proctor through video for the duration of the examination.
    4. The pupil may not exit the examination administration until instructed to do so.
    5. The submission of the examination must be verified by the administrator of the examination.”

  • Senate Bill 489 — Relating to: rights reserved to a parent or guardian of a child.
    By Senator Wanggaard; cosponsored by Representative Wittke

    See the WASB’s previous blog post on the hearing for this bill in the Assembly.

  • Senate Bill 523 — Relating to: grants to schools to acquire proactive firearm detection software and making an appropriation.
    By Senator Wanggaard; cosponsored by Representative Callahan

    Under current law, the Department of Justice awards grants to schools to improve school safety. Currently DOJ awards grants to fund eligible expenditures such as training, safety-related upgrades to buildings, equipment, and facilities, and expenditures to provide blueprints or mapping data to law enforcement.
    This bill requires DOJ to award grants of up to $325,000 to schools to acquire proactive firearm detection software and provides $4,000,000 in the 2023-25 fiscal biennium for the grants. Under the bill, schools must apply for the grants jointly with the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the school. If the funding is insufficient to award grants to all eligible applicants, the bill requires DOJ to award the grants to qualified applicants in the order that the applications were received.

Senate Economic Development and Technical Colleges Agenda

Public Hearing

See attached language on specific education provisions within the bill that would affect Wisconsin public schools. Including grant programs and significant changes to part time open enrollment.

  • Senate Bill 747— Relating to: apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship completion awards, career and technical education incentive grants and completion awards, technical preparation programs in school districts and technical colleges, creating an individual income tax credit for completing an apprenticeship program, rejection criteria for part-time open enrollment applications, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, and providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures.
    By Senator Feyen; cosponsored by Representative Oldenburg

    “Career and technical education incentive grants and completion awards

    The bill adds programs in construction work to the list of industry-recognized certification programs for which DWD must approve programs. This change applies for purposes of eligibility for both the incentive
    grants available to school districts and the completion awards available to students.”
    “Apprenticeship courses and technical preparation programs
    Current law requires each school board, in cooperation with a technical college district board, to establish a technical preparation program in each public high school in the school district. The program must consist of a sequence of courses, approved by the Technical College System Board, designed to allow high school pupils to gain advanced standing in the technical college district’s associate degree program upon graduation from high school.
    Under the bill, the TCS Board must annually publish a list of courses offered to high school students that meet all of the following criteria: 1) the course is offered to adults in an approved apprenticeship program; 2) the course has a technical college district course number; and 3) the course is taught by school district faculty, by technical college faculty, or by industry professionals who teach the course to adults in an approved apprenticeship program (TCS-listed apprenticeship courses). The TCS Board must facilitate dual enrollment programs between school boards and technical college district boards for TCS-listed apprenticeship courses and must ensure that an individual’s successful completion of a TCS-listed apprenticeship course allows the individual to receive technical college course credit while in high school. These TCS-listed apprenticeship courses must also be included in the TCS Board’s and school district’s technical preparation programs.”

    “Part-time open enrollment; undue financial burden

    Currently, under the part-time open enrollment program, a pupil enrolled in grades nine to 12 in a public school may attend public school in a school district other than the pupil’s resident school district (a nonresident school district) to take up to two courses offered by the nonresident school district. Current law requires a pupil’s resident school district to pay the nonresident school district an amount equal to the cost of providing the course to the pupil, as determined by the Department of Public Instruction. Under current law, a pupil’s resident school board may prohibit the pupil from attending a course in a nonresident school district if the cost of the course would impose an undue financial burden on the school district. The bill specifies that, when making a determination about whether a course imposes an undue financial burden, a school district must use a consistent methodology that does not consider the content of the course and evaluate whether paying the cost of the course will impair the school district’s operations.”

    The WASB staff is analyzing these provisions to determine their potential impact on our members. Go to the bill page to see all the provisions of this bill in more detail.

Assembly Local Government Agenda

Executive Session

The WASB is opposed to the two bills listed below, and urges school leaders to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose these measures. Please reach out to WASB Government Relations staff if you have any questions.

  • Assembly Bill 723 — Relating to: local government competitive bidding thresholds and requiring school districts to utilize competitive bidding.
    By Representative Brooks; cosponsored by Senator Stroebel

    See the WASB’s previous blog post on this bill for more information.

  • Assembly Bill 82 — Relating to: including with a referendum question for issuing bonds a statement of the estimated interest accruing on the amount of the bonds.
    By Representative Gustafson; cosponsored by Senator Cabral-Guevara

    “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.”

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