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Legislative Update


WI Policy Forum launches virtual series on state issues; first will focus on education

WI Policy Forum launches virtual series on state issues; first will focus on education

The Wisconsin Policy Forum is launching a brand new virtual event called Forum Fridays on June 5th. From the invitation:

“These will be timely and informal virtual events that allow us to share and foster discussion about our research soon after we release it.

“The topic of discussion for the event this coming Friday from 12:15 to 1:15 will be our recent education research. We’ll be covering our work on the digital divide, uncertainty surrounding state finances amid COVID and their effect on education, and our recent analyses of the MPS and MMSD annual budgets. We’ll also have a special guest to join the discussion, Alan Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education columnist and senior fellow at Marquette Law School.

“The event is free and open to all. We’d love it if you could join us as well as share the invitation with your WASB members and any other folks or networks you think would be interested.

“Here’s a link to registration and information about the event.

https://wispolicyforum.org/events/forum-friday/  

New Office of School Safety “Speak Up, Speak Out” resource website goes live

New Office of School Safety “Speak Up, Speak Out” resource website goes live

From OSS: “The Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of School Safety is excited to launch Speak Up, Speak Out – a Resource Center created to provide communities with a centralized safety tool, available at no cost to schools.

“Now, Speak Up, Speak Out (SUSO) is your one-stop resource for: 

  • Threat assessment consultation
  • Critical incident response
  • General school safety guidance

“The Speak Up, Speak Out 24/7 threat reporting system will launch in fall 2020. When Wisconsin youth think there’s a threat to themselves, their classmates or their school, the threat reporting system will be a single, statewide resource to voice their concerns– with complete confidentiality – and they can trust that adults are ready to respond to the threat. No one knows more about what’s going on at school than students themselves, and they’ll be able to inform an adult online, via an app, or by calling a tipline.”

speakup.widoj.gov read more…

Federal update: part 3- Recent federal agency actions

Federal update: part 3- Recent federal agency actions

While things have been relatively quiet in Madison, Washington DC has been a busy place. Here’s the third in a series of updates on the most noteworthy developments.

Centers for Disease Control Publishes Re-Opening Guidelines 

Last week, the CDC published guidelines for reopening the economy, including schools and child care centers, in a 62-page document titled, “CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again.”

The CDC advised, “All decisions about following these recommendations should be made in collaboration with local health officials and other State and local authorities who can help assess the current level of mitigation needed based on levels of COVID-19 community transmission and the capacities of the local public health and healthcare systems, among other relevant factors.” 

read more…

Federal update: part 2- Education Secy. DeVos’ guidance on CARES Act funds spurs controversy

Federal update: part 2- Education Secy. DeVos’ guidance on CARES Act funds spurs controversy

While things have been relatively quiet in Madison, things in Washington DC have been busy. Here’s the second in a series of updates on the most noteworthy developments.

USED Non-binding Equitable Guidance to Non-Public Schools Spawns Confusion, Criticism:

The federal CARES Act, passed in late March, provided $13.1 billion in emergency “education stabilization” funding for K-12 schools nationwide. Part of that new law requires that public school districts that receive education stabilization funds under the act must provide equitable services to non-public schools within their boundaries in the same manner as they provide those services under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). read more…

Federal update: part 1– Congress moving towards additional stimulus?

Federal update: part 1– Congress moving towards additional stimulus?

With things relatively quiet in Madison, things in Washington DC have been busy. Here’s the first in a series of updates on the most noteworthy developments.

Congress Appears to be Moving Toward Approving a Another Emergency Supplemental Bill with Relief for State and Local Governments and Schools

With states and local governments facing mounting revenue losses, the U.S. House of Representatives, on May 15, passed a fourth emergency supplemental appropriations bill. The 1,854 page, Democrat-backed bill, officially known as H.R.6800, would provide $3 trillion to help states, communities, and individuals. Dubbed the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, the bill would provide the following funding: read more…

Samples to help you tell your story during the pandemic

Samples to help you tell your story during the pandemic

WASB LogoAs we’ve posted here before, Wisconsin is facing a COVID-19 budget reckoning. While schools will undoubtedly be asked to play a part in resolving that looming revenue shortfall, school leaders need to be proactive in telling the stories of how your schools are stepping up to meet your students’ needs. We are aware that many districts have already done this (particularly superintendents) with letters to their state legislators. 

Legislators need to hear from you but so do your own communities.  Below are links to sample letters to legislators as well as a sample column or op-ed piece that you can share with your local media.  Included are some suggestions for things to include that we think lawmakers and your communities need to know about.  While district-specific information needs to be added to these sample templates, they can give you a starting point as you tell your story.

We hope these samples are helpful and encourage you to not use them verbatim.

Check out the WASB Legislative Advocacy Toolkit on our website for further advice about communicating with your legislators.

DWD explains delays in processing UI claims, says payments to start this week

With school districts’ physical facilities closed for pupil instruction and extracurriculars due to the public health emergency, school boards have faced some difficult choices regarding support staff members whose job functions were tied more closely to school facilities being open.  In some cases, such support staff have been furloughed or laid off.  Many of those have experienced lengthy delays in receiving unemployment insurance (UI) checks. 

In response to concerns from board members, the WASB GR Team requested assistance from the governor’s office and received the following explanation from DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman:

read more…

Applications for federaly funded child care provider grants are open

Applications for federaly funded child care provider grants are open

Are you a district that partners with a provider for child care services?  Are some of your staff dependent on onsite child care in your schools?  Are some of your staff dependent upon having child care available to them to be able to work? 
Here is some important news for you:

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced applications are open for this federally funded program to provide some $51 million in assistance to a child care industry deemed essential during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  From the DCF release:

“The Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Emergency Payment Program is broken into three smaller programs targeted at the most common circumstances early care and education providers are facing in the wake of the public health emergency. The individual payment programs are detailed below and cover the March 12 to May 26 period. The department is issuing payments across three application periods: May 18 to May 29, June 8 to June 19, and June 29 to July 10. Providers are encouraged to apply during all phases and can do so by visiting the department’s web site. read more…

State Sen. Craig announces he will not seek reelection

State Sen. Craig announces he will not seek reelection

State Senator Dave Craig (R-Big Bend) has announced he will not seek reelection to the state Senate. He is (by our count) the eighth member of the 33-member state Senate that will not be back next session, including four Democrats and four Republicans.

The GOP currently holds the Senate majority by an 18 to 13 margin with two vacancies.

Sen. Craig joins several of his colleagues in likely not returning for various reasons: read more…

WI Policy Forum releases report on digital divide and learning

WI Policy Forum releases report on digital divide and learning

A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report looks at Wisconsin’s digital divide and the impact on learning.  This is particularly important and relevant during the current school closure as districts attempt to provide virtual instruction to students.

From the report summary:

“As the COVID-19 pandemic spurs Wisconsin schools to undertake an unprecedented exercise in virtual and distance learning, districts throughout the state are grappling with how to provide devices and internet access to students without them. Data show these children are in both cities and rural areas, and are disproportionately low-income and students of color. read more…

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The WASB has scheduled a complimentary webinar next week about safely returning to work during a pandemic. It will be held on Wednesday, June 10 at noon. No registration is required. Learn more at our webinars page: wasb.org/meeting-and-ev… pic.twitter.com/NV2RmDNBQB

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