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Legislative Update

GOP lawmakers target public schools with “transparency/culture war” legislation

GOP lawmakers target public schools with “transparency/culture war” legislation

A number of legislative proposals have been introduced that target public schools (including independent charter schools) with measures aimed at increasing transparency to parents and the community. It’s possible these bills could have public hearings in the near future and we wanted to make you aware of them. The WASB is concerned with the trend of these types of bills that indicate a lack of trust by lawmakers in locally-elected school board members and local control of K-12 education in general.

The following is a list of bills dealing with school referenda, budget transparency, anti-racism & anti-sexism instruction (critical race theory) and a mandate to post curricular and instructional materials online.  Along with a description of each bill is an excerpt from the bill’s co-sponsorship memo. These memos are written by the bill authors to explain the need for the legislation to their colleagues and request their support. read more…

Gov. Evers calls legislative Special Session intended to boost state education spending

Gov. Evers calls legislative Special Session intended to boost state education spending

In a video and through a press release, Gov. Tony Evers today announced that he will call the Legislature into special session tomorrow morning (Tuesday 7/27) to take up a proposal that Evers called “what’s best for our kids and our schools.”

In his Executive Order calling the Legislature into a special session, the governor urges lawmakers to take up a draft bill that would invest a combined $550 million in Wisconsin’s K-12 schools and students, and higher education. 

The proposal would provide:

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DPI to host webinar on ESSER II & III hours of instruction data collection

Dan Bush and Roger Kordus from the DPI School Financial Services Team will present a webinar about ESSER II & III hours of instruction data collection on Monday, July 26 from 10-11 AM. The webinar will include about 35 minutes of information covering a summary of the data collection and examples of how to compile data, with an opportunity for about 25 minutes of Q&A.

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GOP legislation proposes massive overhaul of reading readiness program including numerous strict mandates on school boards

GOP legislation proposes massive overhaul of reading readiness program including numerous strict mandates on school boards

Citing Wisconsin’s falling ranks in reading proficiency compared to other states, a number of state legislative Republicans have proposed a massive overhaul of the reading readiness program including a laundry list of stringent new state mandates relating to screening, assessments, interventions, parental notifications and reporting requirements.

The new mandates are very specific, even dictating what companies and products must be approved for use. The legislation is authored by Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) and Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay). See below for a comparison of current law and what is required by the bill.

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CDC updates COVID-19 guidance for schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for COVID-19 prevention in schools today (7/9).

The updated guidance focuses on helping administrators in K-12 schools, along with state and local health officials, safely support in-person learning as well as sports and other extracurricular activities. The updates are based on the latest science and emphasize the COVID-19 prevention strategies most important for K-12 schools to support in-person learning. 

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GOP lawmakers target public schools with “transparency/culture war” legislation

Governor vetoes bill on WIAA transfer rules

Governor Evers vetoed Assembly Bill 383, the bill that would have prohibited a school district from being a member of an interscholastic athletic association (i.e., the WIAA) in the 2021-22 school year unless, for the 2021-22 school year, the association allows an exception to its transfer rules based on the manner in which educational programming was delivered during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

The governor indicated he vetoed the bill because he objected to the Legislature inserting itself into the decision-making process of a private membership organization. WASB members have gone on record in support of WIAA autonomy by adopting a resolution that supports the governor’s position on this issue. read more…

Gov. Evers calls legislative Special Session intended to boost state education spending

Gov. Evers signs budget; announces additional $100 million in one-time federal funds for schools

Today, Governor Tony Evers signed the 2021-23 state budget with no major changes to the K-12 provisions as passed by the legislature, and also announced he would allocate an additional $100 million in one-time federal funding for schools from COVID relief funds under the governor’s discretion.

The governor said he was unwilling to risk the $2.3 billion in federal funds for schools with a full veto of the budget and also acknowledged that “Republicans and their allies” were careful with the language included in the bill and did not provide an avenue to increase school funding with a line-item veto as he did in the last budget. read more…

New round of American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funding available

The U.S. Department of Education today (July 6) announced availability of $600 million in additional funding under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for children and youth who are experiencing homelessness. 

State educational agencies (SEAs–such as the DPI) and local educational agencies (LEAs–such as school districts) must use these funds (known as ARP-HCY funds) to identify homeless children and youth, to provide homeless children and youth with wrap-around services to address the challenges of COVID-19, and to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and fully participate in school activities. 

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U.S. Department of Education releases over $50 million to WI in ARP funds to support children with disabilities

From the U.S. Dept. of Education:

“The U.S. Department of Education today released more than $3 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to states to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The new funding will help aid more than 7.9 million infants, toddlers, and students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and adds to the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief allocation of $122 billion in state funding for K-12 schools, which the department announced in March. read more…

DPI releases July 1 estimates of 2021-22 general school aids

As required by state law, the DPI released its July 1 estimate of the general school aids each public school district will receive for the 2021-22 school year. Today’s estimates are based in part on the K-12 funding package approved by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on June 17. K-12 funding was not changed by either house of the Legislature and along with other budget provisions now heads to the governor for his signature or veto.

General school aids are the largest source of state support for Wisconsin public schools. Under the JFC package, general school aids for 2021-22 will total an estimated $5.0 billion, representing a $109.9 million (2.2 percent) increase over last year.

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Reading readiness overhaul legislation passes legislature, heads to governor…

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