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WASB thanks Governor for supporting school boards, local control

In this Thanksgiving season many of us are taking time to express thanks in a variety of ways.  Yesterday, WASB Executive Director John Ashley wrote to Gov. Evers to thank him for supporting local school board decision-making during this difficult pandemic.

As we reported in an earlier blog post, Gov. Evers publicly supported school boards during a recent press conference where he was asked about a call by the state’s largest teachers union for the state to mandate uniform “return to school” criteria on all school districts in Wisconsin.  When asked to comment on that request, the governor responded that local school boards, administrators and teachers statewide were “doing their best” and there are places where in-person instruction is “frankly, working well” and that it is “a difficult thing for us to sit here and talk about it being a one (single, uniform) answer to 420-some school districts.”

The WASB appreciates that the governor recognized that school boards and administrators are doing the best job they can as they make difficult decisions that balance the science and their own community’s circumstances. 

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Resolutions to be considered at 2021 WASB Delegate Assembly now online

The Report to the Membership on Proposed 2021 WASB Resolutions has now been posted on the WASB website.   The report presents the resolutions that were advanced by the Policy & Resolutions Committee and will be considered by the 2021 WASB Delegate Assembly along with the rationale for each resolution.  

The WASB Delegate Assembly will held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. This year, for the first time, the Delegate Assembly will be held using a virtual format.  More information for delegates will be forthcoming, including specific information about how to participate in online format of this year’s Delegate Assembly. 

School leaders and others who are not delegates will be able to watch a streaming video of the proceedings of the Delegate Assembly. 

Watch the WASB Legislative Update Blog for more information.

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.  

 

 

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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Unwelcome property tax surprise awaits many school districts

Numerous school boards and their property taxpayers could be in for an unwelcome surprise when property tax bills arrive this December. This is due to errors made by the state Department of Revenue coupled with the Legislature’s failure to pass legislation to correct those errors. 

This week, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) began notifying local taxing jurisdictions, including school districts, of what is likely to happen without legislative action to fix this problem.

In a blog post back in April, we detailed a letter we sent to legislative leaders urging them to pass Assembly Bill 753, which, as amended, would correct this problem.  However, the Senate adjourned without taking up the bill.

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