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March 25 Webinar to highlight ESSER III Summer & Afterschool Program opportunities for district/community-based organization partnerships

On March 25, the Wisconsin Afterschool Network (WAN) will partner with the DPI to provide a 90-minute webinar focused on how the ESSER III 20% set-aside for activities to address learning loss due to COVID-19 can be met by the inclusion of comprehensive summer and after-school programs that implement evidenced-based intervention strategies via partnerships between districts and community-based organizations (CBO’s).

This webinar will also provide participants an opportunity to learn more about the ESSER III $5M dollar after-school competitive grant program to support additional school district and CBO and out-of-school time program partnerships. 

March 25, 2022ESSER III Grant Information and Opportunities.   
(11:00-12:30 pm via WebEx)
Click here to register for the webinar. 

Funding to support this webinar is provided by the Wisconsin Department of Administration

Legislature’s budget committee approves adjusted ESSER III plan; paves the way for federal funds to be released to schools

The state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) has approved the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) revised ARPA Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds III plan. The revisions address certain objections raised by the U.S. Department of Education to the release of a portion of the state’s ESSER III funding allocation. For more information on the process for applying for funds, see the DPI ESSER III webpage.

The WASB appreciates the willingness of the DPI and JFC to work together on this issue in the best interest of Wisconsin school districts. State Superintendent Jill Underly issued a statement and the WASB sent a letter thanking the JFC co-chairs, Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) & Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), for approving the plan.

Newly released state fiscal estimate projects a whopping $2.9 billion increase in state’s general fund balance to $3.8 billion

A new report released today by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) projects Wisconsin’s closing, net general fund balance at the end of the current biennium (June 30, 2023) to be just over $3.8 billion. This is slightly more than $2.88 billion above the net balance that was projected last July when the 2021-23 biennial budget was signed into law. The $3.8 billion balance is in addition to the $1.7 billion the state currently holds in its “rainy day” fund, known officially as the budget stabilization fund.

The $2.88 billion increase is the net result of:

            1. an increase of $2.51 billion in estimated tax collections;
            2. an increase of $33.1 million in departmental revenues (non-tax receipts deposited into the state’s general fund); and
            3. a decrease of $339.4 million in net appropriations.


Legislative Update-Part Two: A look at the political landscape in 2022

(Note: This is the second of three blog posts detailing information that was provided by the WASB Government Relations team to in-person attendees at the Legislative Update presentation during the State Education Convention last Friday.)

Election Preview
Sen. Ron Johnson’s anticipated announcement that he will seek reelection to his Senate seat means that on the Republican side the openings available for statewide candidates are in the race for governor. 

              • Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is already in the race on the GOP side.  Last week, she picked up a key endorsement from Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
              • Former U.S. Marine and consulting business owner Kevin Nicholson is expected to announce shortly that he is running for governor on the GOP side. 
              • Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson raised some eyebrows when he indicated he hasn’t ruled out running for governor after he steps down from his current positions as UW System interim President.

            We’re also seeing the beginnings of the candidate’s campaign platform’s take shape.


Legislative Update-Part One: DPI submits new proposed plan for distribution of remaining ESSER III funds.

(Note: This is the first of three blog posts detailing information that was provided by the WASB Government Relations team to in-person attendees at the Legislative Update presentation during the State Education Convention last Friday.)

During our WASB Legislative Update webinar on January 12, the GR team said we hoped to be able to provide a progress report on negotiations between the DPI and the members of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) aimed at reconciling differences over the distribution of a portion of the federal COVID relief funds for public schools (“ESSER III” funds) provided to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

We have some good news report.  Last week, the DPI submitted a new plan to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) for the distribution of about $114 million in federal (ESSER III) COVID relief funds that have been held up for many months.  The DPI’s latest proposal has been submitted to the Joint Finance Committee for and has been made public, which suggests that an agreement may be close. The JFC has 14 calendar days to either meet to approve or modify and approve the plan, or not meet, in which case the State Superintendent would implement the plan as submitted. The Committee has until Wednesday, February 2, 2022 to meet and act on this plan. (more…)

Federal agencies announce temporary CDL flexibility to address school bus driver shortage

From a U.S. Dept. of Education release: “Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education (Department), that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is giving states the option of waiving the portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test that requires applicants to identify the “under the hood” engine components. All other components of the written and road test will remain.

“This announcement aims to alleviate some of the labor shortage challenges schools are facing and is one of many resources the Department continues to provide to safely keep schools open for full-time, in-person learning.”