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Judge declares elements of Act 10 unconstitutional; seeks input from involved parties before any final ruling

In a July 3 order denying a motion to dismiss the case, a Dane County judge ruled certain provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, the law that significantly curtailed collective bargaining rights for most public employees, are unconstitutional. The Judge’s initial decision was to deny the defendant’s petition for a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The decision on the motion to dismiss was not a final disposition of the case. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by several unions representing public sector employees that argues provisions in Act 10 violate equal protection guarantees in the Wisconsin Constitution in the way in which that law split public employees into two separate classes: “general” and “public safety” employees. Public safety employees are exempt from the restrictions placed upon collective bargaining.
 
The immediate implications of Judge Frost’s order remain unclear. He chose to specifically highlight that a number of employees groups with law enforcement duties, such as UW and Capitol Police, as well as conservation wardens, were classified as “general” and not “public safety” employees. Frost found the Legislature had no rational basis (no reasonable justification) for the exclusion of such employees from the “public safety” class of employees, and thus these groups had their equal protection guarantees violated.
 
At the end of his ruling, he asked the parties involved in the case to weigh in on potential next steps in the case. This included asking the plaintiffs to highlight which parts of Act 10 they believe must be severed (or eliminated) under this ruling, and asking defendants to file a response. Plaintiff’s have 14 days (from the date of the ruling), to submit a response, defendants then have 14 days thereafter to submit their response. Plaintiffs then have 7 days to respond to the defendants’ response. This means no final ruling will be issued for at least 35 days and perhaps longer. Regardless of how Frost decides to rule in the near future, it is widely expected the case will be appealed up to the Supreme Court. The WASB will be monitoring this case closely, and will provide updates as future decisions/appeals are made. School districts do not need to take any kind of immediate action with respect to the July 3 ruling. It remains uncertain how school districts and school district employee groups will be affected by future proceedings in that pending case. Read below to view excerpts from Frost’s ruling.
 

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DPI releases July 1 preliminary general aid estimates

Per Wisconsin law, DPI today released its estimate of the equalization aid public school districts will receive in the 2024-25 school year. Equalization (or general aid), is the largest form of state aid that public schools in Wisconsin receive and it is designed with two goals in mind: to reduce reliance upon local property taxes and to guarantee that a basic educational opportunity is available to all pupils regardless of the local fiscal capacity of their respective school district.

The July 1 aid estimate is based on 2023-24 budgeted expenditures for all 421 school districts. The October 15 aid estimate will use audited 2023-24 actual expenditures for all 421 school districts (i.e. not budget data). This data is also expected to be impacted by the ongoing financial data reporting issues at MPS. This is why the July 1 estimate may vary to a greater degree than normal from the final October data. DPI recommends caution when using this data, due to the likelihood of figure changes as the situation continues to progress.

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Vendor for new statewide reading screener is selected

From DPI: “The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is announcing NCS Pearson was selected to supply the statewide reading readiness screener under the requirements of 2023 Wisconsin Act 20.

Bids for the universal screener were evaluated by Department of Administration experts following state procurement rules. The DPI will need to negotiate a final contract before July 15, 2024, with NCS Pearson that will include details about assessment administration, accommodations and accessibility options, trainings for teachers and administrators, and testing windows. These details will be announced before the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. (more…)

Redistricting Provides a Fresh Opportunity for Advocacy: Host a Candidate Forum!

Summer of 2024 has arrived, closing the legislative session, and ushering in the much-anticipated campaign and election season. State Senate and Assembly elections are going to be in the limelight this year because of a dramatic legislative redistricting that occurred earlier this year. In light of these changes, DPI has released a new interactive map that shows school district boundaries overlaid with legislative district boundaries.

This also means now is a great time for you to get to know your potential lawmakers better! K-12 education, as always, is sure to feature prominently in many candidates’ platforms and you have the opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge with new legislators. A great way for your school district to play an active role in the election is to host a candidate forum. A forum is a great way to engage your community around an upcoming election, to build support for the issues that matter to your school district, and to learn more about the candidates running to represent you. You can even consider partnering with your neighboring school districts, to maximize attendance and interest in the forum as well as increase the likelihood candidates will want to participate!

Below read some tips and information for hosting a successful candidate forum. You can find more resources on our Legislative Advocacy Tips page. (more…)

Supreme Court agrees to hear WMC case seeking overturn of Evers’ partial veto that raised revenue limits for 400 years

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce previously filed a lawsuit in April, directly with the Supreme Court, that seeks to overturn Governor Evers use of the partial veto to annually raise school revenue limits by $325 per pupil until 2425. Today, the Court has announced it will take up the suit. Petitioners in the case will have 30 days to file a brief before the court and respondents will have to file a reply or statement they will not reply within 20 days of the filing, according to the Supreme Court order. If respondents file a brief, petitioners will then have 10 days to either file a reply brief or statement that no brief will be filed. A date for oral arguments has yet to be scheduled. 

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2024 WASB Resolutions Book now available!

WASB’s 2024 Resolutions Booklet is now available! Resolutions adopted by the annual Delegate Assemblies set the direction for the association and provide the WASB viewpoint on any number of topics. They remain in force unless amended or repealed. Resolutions are an important way in which WASB members ensure the association is member-driven. At this year’s Delegate Assembly, in January at the State Education Convention, delegates adopted five new resolutions, and a further six which amended or removed previously adopted resolutions. You can find the 2024 WASB Resolutions Book on our Delegate Assembly webpage, or at this direct pdf link. Board presidents and district administrators should have received a copy in the mail. Locally appointed WASB Delegates will receive a copy of the book in the mail closer to next year’s Delegate Assembly. 

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