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Legislative Update


Rep. John Jagler announces run for state Senate seat being vacated by Fitzgerald

Rep. John Jagler announces run for state Senate seat being vacated by Fitzgerald

State Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) has formally announced his intention to run for the state Senate seat (13th Senate District) being vacated at the end of the year by Sen. Scott Fitzgerald who was elected to Congress. There will be a special election to fill the seat early in 2021. 

Rep. Jagler was elected to his fourth term in the assembly in November and has been a long-time member of the Assembly Education Committee.  From his press release:

“Jagler started in the Capitol in 2010 working as Communications Director for then Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. In 2012, Jagler
ran and won his election for the 37th Assembly District. Previously, Jagler had a 20‐year broadcasting career and was host of “Wisconsin’s Morning News” on Milwaukee’s Newsradio 620 WTMJ, the top‐rated radio program in the state. Jagler currently is a realtor in the Watertown area, and his family owns an all‐natural dog treat company.”

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.

read more…

Wis. Policy Forum reports point to challenges for schools in upcoming state budget debate

A pair of study reports released this week by the non-partisan Wisconsin Policy Forum shed light on the potential challenges school leaders will confront as the state of Wisconsin addresses its 2021-23 biennial (two-year) budget.

The first report suggests the state will face its toughest budget challenge since 2011. The second report shows 2020 school district property tax levies rising significantly faster than inflation, although at a slower rate of increase than in 2019. read more…

OSS: School safety grant updates; SUSO; suicide prevention grants

OSS: School safety grant updates; SUSO; suicide prevention grants

The following is from the Office of School Safety:

ATTENTION GRANT RECIPIENTS

There are only two weeks left until the end of the School Safety Initiative Grant. The project end date for both Round 1 and Round 2 grants is 12/31/2020, with final fiscal and program reports due in Egrants on 1/30/2021.  Please keep in mind that any unobligated funds after 12/31/2020 will be turned back to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS).
 
Below is a reminder of the training requirements tied to this grant: read more…

Sen. Alberta Darling named new Senate education committee chair

Sen. Alberta Darling named new Senate education committee chair

State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) has been appointed the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Education succeeding the retiring Luther Olsen. The announcement came as part of new Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s overall release on Senate committee structure for the upcoming 2021-22 legislative session.

Sen. Darling has been the co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee as well as vice-chair of the education committee for the past several sessions. She was elected to the state Assembly in 1990, the state Senate in 1992 and is a former education committee chair. She represents the 8th Senate District (see map) which includes the following school districts (some partial): Arrowhead UHS, Brown Deer, Cedarburg, Erin, Fox Point J2, Germantown, Glendale-River Hills, Grafton, Hamilton, Hartford J1, Hartford UHS, Holy Hill Area, Maple Dale-Indian Hill, Menomonee Falls, Mequon-Thiensville, Merton Community, Milwaukee, Nicolet UHS, Port Washington-Saukville, Richmond, Whitefish Bay

Also announced as serving on the committee are Sens. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) as vice chair and Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

DHS unveils new maps and data tables detailing COVID-19 case rates by school district

DHS unveils new maps and data tables detailing COVID-19 case rates by school district

On Wednesday (12/2), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released Geographic Information System (GIS) maps and corresponding downloadable data tables that break down confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths by a variety of geographic boundaries, including by municipal and school district boundaries and by zip code.

Among other things, the new maps will allow Wisconsinites to view existing COVID-19 case rates and death data by school district boundaries. In announcing the new maps, DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said, “Breaking down existing case data by these additional geographies offers new ways for people to understand COVID-19 activity within their communities.”

read more…

Evers announces dates for virtual State of the State and budget unveiling speeches

Evers announces dates for virtual State of the State and budget unveiling speeches

From a release from the governor’s office: Gov. Tony Evers today announced he will deliver the upcoming State of the State address and biennial budget message virtually as COVID-19 continues to surge across the state. The State of the State address will be delivered at 7:00 p.m. on Tues., January 12, 2021, and pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 16.45, the governor has requested to deliver his budget message at 7:00 p.m. on Tues., February 16, 2021.

“I have spent the better part of the last year encouraging Wisconsinites to stay home as often as possible, practice social distancing, and limit interactions and gatherings with people outside of their immediate households. As you both know, I believe elected leaders must lead by example,” said Gov. Evers in a letter to legislative leaders. “To this end, and consistent with our continued recommendations to Wisconsinites, I will deliver my State of the State address and budget message to Wisconsinites virtually next year.” read more…

DPI emergency rule providing licensure flexibilities now in effect

Yesterday (12/2), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) published a new Emergency Rule (Emergency Rule 2043) intended to provide flexibility under Chapter PI 34 (the licensing-related chapter) of the DPI’s administrative rules to help address staffing needs in schools and to adjust student teaching requirements in clinical programs.

The Emergency Rule amends the short-term substitute provisions in PI 34 to allow for extended assignments during the pandemic.  To help board members and administrators understand the changes, our November WASB Legal and Legislative Update Webinar focused on this rule change.  In addition, the WASB created a brief guide describing the Emergency Rule and its effect on the assignment of persons in various licensure categories and its effect on pre-student teaching and student teaching clinical program requirements.

Licensure flexibility is among the flexibilities the WASB has been advocating for to help schools during the pandemic.

read more…

John Ashley statement on Assembly GOP COVID-19 proposal

John Ashley statement on Assembly GOP COVID-19 proposal

We want to recognize Speaker Robin Vos and the Assembly Republican caucus for proposing a legislative package to address the needs of the state in dealing with the ongoing public health pandemic. After months of inactivity, this movement toward advancing concrete proposals is encouraging. Along with Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal, there are now two plans for consideration to look for items that can receive bipartisan agreement.

There are a number of K-12 education provisions included in the Republican package that will be helpful to school boards. The WASB is supportive of efforts to help provide students with personal computing devices and re-creating a grant program for this purpose. We are also supportive of the provision intended to protect schools from civil liability in regard to COVID-19-related lawsuits.

That being said, the WASB is very concerned about a number of provisions that would pre-empt local school board decision-making and penalize districts for decisions made in the interest of public safety. The WASB opposes proposals to require staff to be physically present in buildings, require a two-thirds majority vote on the school board to provide instruction virtually and financially penalize districts that provide instruction virtually. read more…

LeMahieu: Senate not coming back to take up COVID-19 legislation this year

LeMahieu: Senate not coming back to take up COVID-19 legislation this year

According to multiple media reports, new GOP Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) says the Senate will not come in to take up any COVID-19 relief legislation in December.  This comes on the heels of Assembly Republicans unveiling a legislative package and ongoing discussions between Governor Evers, Speaker Vos and Sen. LeMahieu on trying to reach an agreement on state legislation. The governor had previously released his own legislative proposal. This seems to ensure there will be nothing passed by a lame duck legislature this month and pushes back any possible response to January 2021 at the earliest, when the new legislature is sworn in.

Read More: read more…

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The recording of the January video update is now online, complete with links to each topic discussed. Find it at the bottom of our webinars page, under the "Complimentary WASB Webinars and Online Workshops" tab. wasb.org/meeting-and-ev…

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