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WASB supports inclusion of all K-12 educators in Phase 1B vaccine distribution

This afternoon (1/18) the WASB submitted written comments via email to the Department of Health Services and its State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s Vaccine Subcommittee regarding its draft Phase 1B vaccine distribution recommendations.

The email read:

“The Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) is a voluntary membership association representing all 421 of Wisconsin’s locally elected public school boards, including roughly 2,800 school board members, serving in Wisconsin’s largest communities to its smallest communities.

“WASB members are deeply concerned about disruption of student learning and school activities that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our public schools provide essential services to our communities and to nearly 840,000 students. These schools provide safe places for students to learn. They feed and nurture students. They relieve parents of caretaking responsibilities during the workday. And, most importantly, these schools teach our students valuable lessons. 

“From a learning standpoint, we know that in-person instruction is more effective than remote learning, and more equitable, too.  However, the matter of how to provide in-person instruction safely—in a manner that protects the health of all students, staff, parents and community members—is also of vital concern.  Prioritizing the vaccination of our educators and those school personnel who are essential to the delivery of educational services is a key to ensuring the continuity of in-person instruction. (more…)

Bipartisan group unveils two-part $908 billion federal COVID relief package

With Congress facing a time crunch to approve both a federal budget deal and more federal COVID relief aid, a bipartisan group of lawmakers today (12/14) unveiled a two-part $908 billion COVID-19 relief package.

The first part would provide $748 billion to fund another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance for small businesses; an extension of unemployment benefits; and more money for schools, COVID testing, vaccine distribution and other widely agreed-upon items. 

The proposal is said to include $82 billion for education, an amount which includes $54 billion both K-12 education and $20 billion for colleges and universities. In addition, $7.5 billion is included for a Governor’s Fund.  Provisions earmarking some of this funding for private and parochial schools are also included in the bipartisan package, although details were not available at the time this post was written.

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Evers addresses state on COVID pandemic, issues new executive order

Gov. Tony Evers delivered his first  statewide media address regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday evening (11/10). 

With new reports of COVID-19 cases and deaths at all-time highs in Wisconsin, Evers used the address to announce a new Executive Order (Executive Order #94).  In the order Evers calls for new precautions to combat COVID-19, but issues no new restrictions.

Unlike previous orders, Evers’ latest order contains no legally binding edicts, only recommendations.  Nevertheless, it calls on Wisconsinites  to “stay home as much as possible and only make trips when necessary, such as to go to work, pick up groceries, or refill prescriptions” and “take precautions when leaving their home to ensure their safety, the safety of the members of their household, and the safety of the public.”

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Important Reminders for School Board Members

Tuesday, Nov. 3 is election day.  It goes with saying that this is an important election for our state and nation.  It is also an important election for school districts.

As we have noted in previous posts, there are 51 local school referenda in 41 districts on Tuesday’s ballot.  There are also at least 13 current and former school board members running for state or federal legislative office.

In addition, school board members and administrators are reminded that 2019 Act 185 requires all school districts to report the impacts of school closures to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) by November 1, 2020.  DPI is required to report this information to the legislature and will be posting it on the department’s website.

The DPI developed a survey tool to collect this information.  District administrators should have received a unique link to access the survey tool on August 10, 2020.  Additional information regarding this required survey is available here.  

 

 

Special complimentary NSBA webinar on school transformation tomorrow

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged public schools in many ways. It has also amplified many of the problems and issues that schools faced prior to the pandemic, such as an inadequate supply of qualified teachers and a shortage of financial support for public schools. As our nation prepares to emerge from the pandemic, a growing number of visionaries are making the case that now is the time to rethink how schools do things to better meet the needs of students. This includes strengthening teaching, personalizing learning, and ensuring equitable access to technology for all students.

If this interests you, be sure to mark your calendar for noon tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 27), when the National School Boards Association (NSBA)  will host a free 2-hour webinar entitled, “Public School Transformation Now! Access, Equity, & Innovation for Each Child.” (See details below.)

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Voluntary Payroll Tax Deferral Program available but not recommended

The President signed an executive order that was issued on August 8, 2020 that allows employers to participate in a voluntary program to defer withholding of the payroll tax attributable to social security (6.2%) on wages paid out between September 1 and December 31, 2020.

This voluntary program became effective yesterday (Sept. 1).

It is the WASB’s opinion that the employer has an option as to whether or not to opt into the program to defer the withholding and payment of the employee’s portion of the Social Security Tax.  Please see the information from the IRS that describes the guidance:

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