Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature (Senate & Assembly) were in session Tuesday, May 11 and acted on a number of K-12-related bills.
The Assembly had scheduled override votes of two bills vetoed by the governor–Assembly Bill 23 (vaccine mandates) & Assembly Bill 24 (houses of worship)–but did not vote on either, presumably because they did not have the required votes (2/3 of the chamber). read more…
Yesterday (5/10), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program.
The ECF was created through the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This legislation provides $7.17 billion to help students struggling with the Homework Gap, the term that commonly refers to the education digital divide that impacts millions of students who lack adequate internet and broadband connectivity when they are at home or working remotely elsewhere. read more…
The federal Food and Drug Administration yesterday (5/10) granted Pfizer’s request to authorize the use of its COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12-15. This follows the FDA’s action earlier this year approving emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 16-17. Thus far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine to have been approved for those under age 18.
The new emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine opens the possibility of vaccinations to millions of children nationwide, including roughly 300,000 in Wisconsin. Infectious disease experts believe vaccination is an important step for increasing immunity in the population and preventing new variants from gaining a bigger foothold. read more…
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) met last Thursday and took executive action to remove more than 380 items from the Governor’s proposed budget.
The JFC actions also reduce anticipated federal revenues to the state by $2.4 billion over the next biennium. Those potential dollars were principally associated with Medicaid expansion. The JFC’s actions also nixed roughly $1 billion in tax increases the governor had proposed. One consequence of these combined actions is that they potentially reduce the amount of revenue the state has available to fund increases in K-12 school funding.
Here’s a look at a few of the specific consequences of the JFC’s actions: read more…
Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced $635,089 in grants for 28 school districts Wednesday (5/5) to help them establish or expand local fabrication laboratory (“fab lab”) facilities.
Fab labs are high-tech workshops equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components like 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.
The grants will help schools purchase fab lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle school, junior high or high school students.
On May 4, the Senate education committee recommended passage of Senate Bill 182, a bill to return local school board control of the school start date beginning in the 2022-23 school year, on a unanimous 7-0 vote. The WASB supports local school boards having sole authority to establish the school calendar and supports repealing existing state statutes restricting the school start date. We thank Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) for authoring this legislation and for advancing it out of committee. read more…
This week, the Legislature’s powerful, budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will begin taking votes on the governor’s proposed budget, a first step toward preparing its own version of the 2021-2023 state budget. That process will likely continue for at least the next 5 weeks, and possibly longer.
The first item before the committee on Thursday at 11:00 am is a motion to remove nearly 400 policy items that the Governor included in his budget proposal from further consideration by the committee. The motion removes the following K-12 related items:
THANK YOU to the school board members and administrators who testified at the Joint Finance Committee virtual budget hearing on Wednesday, April 28.
The following school board members testified:
- Pablo Muirhead, Shorewood
- Bob Peterson, Milwaukee
- Kiley Cates, River Falls
- Kay Eggert, Appleton
- Brenda Warren, Green Bay
- Cathy Olig, Menomonee Falls
- Sara Booher, Menomonee Falls (Student Rep!)
- Barb Herzog, Oshkosh
The following administrators also testified:
- Bonita Basty, Business Manager, Birchwood
- Stephen Murley, Superintendent Green Bay
- Claudia Henrickson, Dir. Student Services, Green Bay
- Cory Golla, Superintendent Menomonee Falls
- Tanya Kotlowski, Superintendent, Necedah
Please let me know if you were there and I missed you. Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to advocate for your students’ needs!
Assembly education committee to hold info hearing on “School Funding as Related to the Counting of Students”
The state Assembly Committee on Education, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) will hold an informational hearing on Tuesday, April 27 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 412 East of the State Capitol. The committee will receive invited testimony only from the Department of Public Instruction and Legislative Fiscal Bureau on the topic of “School Funding as Related to the Counting of Students”.
One of the WASB’s top budget priorities is to secure provisions that mitigate the effects of the drop in student membership counts (which affect both revenue limit calculations and per pupil aid allocations) caused by the pandemic. This was also one of the most-mentioned elements brought forward by school leaders who testified at budget hearings. read more…
As we reported in an earlier blog post, Wisconsin is receiving $175 million in federal funding to implement testing programs in schools.
The first phase of this testing program will include options for schools to begin conducting tests in Spring and Summer 2021. Future phases will expand testing options and supports available to schools in Fall 2021 and during the 2021-22 school year.
To provide school leaders with information about getting schools certified to become part of these new COVID-19 testing opportunities, the DPI and the state Department of Health Services will be conducting a webinar today (Friday, April 23) from 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Advance registration is required to receive the Zoom link and call-in information. You can register here.