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Legislative Update


Education committee schedules public hearing on slew of bills dealing with dyslexia/reading instruction

The Assembly Committees on Education will hold a public hearing on Thursday, February 6 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 417 North, State Capitol. The committee, chaired by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), is scheduled to take public testimony on the following bills, most of which are authored by Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) in conjunction with the Wisconsin Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and relate to reading instruction/dyslexia. Included are unfunded mandates for dyslexia plans, school staff training and CESA hiring of dyslexia specialists.  There is also a bill implementing yet more changes to the required reading readiness assessments. read more…

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Hearings held Wednesday on bills to ease rehiring of retired teachers

A pair of identical companion bills aimed at boosting the teacher supply by encouraging retired teachers back into classroom teaching received public hearings on Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the State Capitol.

The bills would allow rehired retirees who return to teaching full time to elect to not participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) for a period of 3 years, thus allowing them to continue to receive their WRS pension while working. (See: WASB Testimony) read more…

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Education committee to hold public hearing on open enrollment bills

The Assembly Committees on Education will hold a public hearing on Thursday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 417 North, State Capitol. The committee is chaired by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and is scheduled to take public testimony on the following bills related to open enrollment:

Assembly Bill 702 Relating to: allowing the School District of New Berlin to give preference to residents of New Berlin in accepting full-time open enrollment applications. read more…

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Government Relations activities at the Convention

We hope to see you in Milwaukee for the 2020 State Education Convention. You have many excellent choices for sessions to attend and we would like to highlight some GR-related activities: 

Pre-Delegate Assembly Discussion Session
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 7:00 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom, Milwaukee Hilton City Center Hotel (5th Floor)

This discussion session gives delegates an opportunity to seek any needed clarifications of the resolutions forwarded to the Delegate Assembly by the WASB Policy and Resolutions Committee. This will be an informational session only. Members are encouraged to ask questions, but no action will be taken and no debate will be allowed. This session also serves as the opportunity for delegates to propose emergency resolutions to the Policy and Resolutions Committee and will include a review of parliamentary procedure for delegate assemblies. read more…

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Bill draft would expand part time open enrollment to private school students & others

The first bill draft, authored by Assembly Education Chair Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) & Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), expands the part-time open enrollment program and renames it the course choice program. The expansion would bring in additional educational institutions and expand the number of grades that may participate from just high school to grades 1-12. 

Expansion

Under the bill, a pupil enrolled in an educational institution, as defined in the bill, in grades 1-12 may attend a course at another educational institution. The current law requirement that a pupil may attend no more than a total of two courses at any one time remains under the bill’s course choice program.

The bill defines an educational institution as any of the following: read more…

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School budget transparency/uniformity bill draft proposed

Citing a desire to make school funding more transparent and easy for the public to understand, a bill draft has been circulated for legislative support by Reps. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

The proposal  would create a committee on uniform school budget and accounting (we appreciate that the WASB would have an appointee) and would require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to, after considering recommendations from the committee, establish a new computerized uniform budget and accounting system for the transmission of financial information from school districts, independent charter schools, and county children with disabilities education boards to DPI.

Our member-approved resolutions support efforts to provide public accountability and transparency for ALL schools that receive taxpayer dollars. For this reason, we are concerned that the bill would not apply to private schools that receive taxpayer subsidized vouchers and have an impact on property tax bills. The draft does apply to independent charter schools which are funded using a similar mechanism to private voucher schools. read more…

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State panel denies dissolution of the Palmyra-Eagle School District

By a 6-1 tally, the School District Boundary Appeals Board voted yesterday to deny the dissolution of the Palmyra-Eagle School District. The panel’s vote means the financially challenged district will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

The boundary appeals board, a state-appointed panel made up of school board members from across the state and a designee of the state superintendent, held six public hearings to take testimony from the Palmyra-Eagle district and community members, as well as surrounding districts, regarding the merits of dissolving the district or keeping it intact.

At yesterday’s seventh meeting, all six board members who represent other local school boards voted with the majority. Only the state superintendent of public instruction’s designee voted against keeping the district open.

read more…

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Bill draft allowing virtual charter school student participation in athletics/extracurriculars offered

A bill draft has been circulated for legislative support that would allow virtual charter school students who reside in a district to participate in district athletics and other extracurricular activities.  It would also require the WIAA to mandate to member school districts that they allow virtual charter school students who reside in the district to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

The bill is being authored by Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) and is similar to a 2015 requirement that requires allowing resident homeschooled pupils to participate in school district athletics/activities.

The WASB opposes this bill based on our member-approved resolutions 3.97 & 3.98, which state: read more…

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