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Legislative Advocacy

The School Board likes to take an active role in advocating for public education at the local, state and federal level.  Check back here for monthly updates about legislative topics and ways that you can get involved.

If you have an idea or suggestion regarding legislative matters, please contact Joe Luginbill, Legislative Liaison to the School Board, at 715-255-0819.

To view resolutions adopted by the ECASD School Board, click HERE.

September Legislative Update

September 25, 2017
  1. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recently submitted their official state plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As required by federal law, Wisconsin submitted its plan to the U.S. Department of Education on the deadline date of Sept. 18th. Under ESSA, states must establish an accountability system to identify and turn around public schools that need improvement. Under Wisconsin’s ESSA plan, the task of turning around low performing schools will fall to local school boards and communities. ESSA also requires states to set ambitious long-term goals for ELA and mathematics proficiency, for graduation rates, and progress toward English language proficiency for English learners. Wisconsin’s plan calls for utilizing the Educator Effectiveness (EE) System as a Professional Development (PD) system to continuously improve practice, provides a statewide learning management system for PD professional development activities, and creates regional and statewide training opportunities around innovative strategies for leading or teaching for equity. The plan also outlines Wisconsin’s numerous supports for school districts and special populations under ESSA to advance student achievement, including student supports for:  English language learners, foster care students, homeless students, migratory students, military students and neglected & delinquent students. 
  2. On September 21st, the state budget was signed into law by Governor Walker. You can read the Governor's final budget vetoes by visiting WASB.org. There are also a number of non-fiscal policy items included in the final budget, including teacher/administrator licensure changes and scheduling of referendum restrictions.
  3. Statement from Joe Luginbill, ECASD Legislative Liaison on the recently passed state budget: "I would like to first thank the Governor and State Legislature for passing substantial increases in per-pupil aid and other categorical aids. As an advocate for students with special health needs and mental health challenges, I am also pleased to see additional investments for school-based mental-health supports. I am disappointed, however, that the state is once again denying the "Fair Funding" concept which would substantially reform school funding and bring equity to urban/rural areas. Additionally, I am disheartened by the continued expansion of the private school voucher program. While there are needed increases in public education for this budget, this is coming after nearly one billion dollars in disinvestment from public schools since Governor Walker took office. A lot of trust-building still needs to take place, but I am hopeful that support for public schools will only continue to grow." 
  4. WI S.B.169 passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Sept. 20th, so it will now be able to move forward to the Wisconsin Senate. The Bill, if passed as it is currently written, would repeal and replace the state “gun-free school zones” statute. The Bill would limit our ability to restrict firearms on school premises.
September 11, 2017

Wisconsin State Budget Update 

The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved all K-12 education provisions of the 2017-19 state budget on a 12-4 party-line vote.  The $639 million K-12 package includes the following key provisions:
Per Pupil Categorical Aid Funding Increase—Provide all districts with an increase of $200 per pupil in 2017-18 and $204 per pupil in 2018-19.  Payments would total $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 per pupil in 2018-19.
Payments would be $630 per pupil in 2019-20 and each year thereafter as like under the governor’s proposal $24 of the 2018-19 payment would be one-time funding and would not be added to the permanent base funding for this aid, going forward.
Deletion of the proposal to require school district to certify to DPI in each of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years that employees of the school district will be required to pay at least 12 percent of all costs and payments associated with employee health care coverage plans in that school year. Instead, require districts to report annually to the state Department of Administration (DOA) regarding employee health care, including health care plan design, premium contributions, self-insurance contributions, deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, and other methods by which employees contribute to health care costs. Require DOA to report this information annually to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) and the appropriate standing committees of the Legislature.
Low Revenue Ceiling– Increase the low revenue adjustment under revenue limits from the current law $9,100 per pupil to $9,300 per pupil in 2017-18, $9,400 per pupil in 2018-19, $9,500 per pupil in 2019-20, $9,600 per pupil in 2020-21, $9,700 per pupil in 2021-22, and $9,800 per pupil in 2022-23 and each year thereafter.
Districts with per pupil revenue authority below the dollar amount of the ceiling could increase their local levy up to this ceiling without referendum approval.
Revenue Limits—Maintain current law.  No per pupil adjustment in revenue limits in either year.
Revenue Limit Adjustment for Energy Efficiency Measures—Modify the governor’s proposal, which had called for eliminating this adjustment, to instead keep this adjustment on the books but prohibit districts from adopting a resolution to utilize the adjustment between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
Scheduling of School District Referenda–Beginning January 1, 2018, school district referenda would be limited to being held only on regularly-scheduled election days (spring primary or general election or partisan fall primary or general election), with the exception that a school district could hold a referendum on the 2nd Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years.  Districts are restricted to holding referenda on, at most, two dates per year.
Provide an emergency exception under which a school district that has experienced a natural disaster, including a fire, that causes the school district’s costs to increase, could call a special referendum to be held within the six-month period immediately following the natural disaster, provided the special referendum would be held not sooner than 70 days after the adoption of the initial resolution.  These natural disaster-related referenda would not count against the two-date limit or be limited to the dates listed above.  These provisions would apply to resolutions to exceed the revenue limits or issue bonds that are adopted after January 1, 2018.
Sparsity Aid—Fully fund payments at $300 per pupil to districts that are eligible under current law eligibility criteria (fewer than 745 students and 10 students per square mile). Provide that any district that qualified for sparsity aid in one year but did not qualify the following year would receive 50% of its prior year award in the year in which it became ineligible for sparsity aid.  
Delete the Governor’s proposal to increase sparsity aid from $300 to $400 per pupil and to provide $100 per pupil for districts with between 745 and 1,000 and a population density of fewer than 10 pupils per square mile.
High Cost Transportation Aid— Expand the program to apply to transportation cost above 145% of the statewide average, rather than 150% as under current law.  Provide that any district that qualified for high cost transportation aid in one year but did not qualify the following year with aid in an amount equal to 50% of its prior year award in the year in which it became ineligible. Specify that the sum of all payments under this 50% of the prior year provision could not exceed $200,000 and that the state superintendent could prorate these payments if necessary.
Special Education Categorical Aid— Maintain current law.  No adjustment to funding for this aid in either year.
High Cost Special Education Aid—Provide that school districts may qualify for reimbursement of up to 90% of eligible prior year costs above $30,000 per pupil rather than 70% under current law. Would first apply to aid paid in the 2017-18 school year.
School Mental Health Aid—Provide $3 million per year and allow private voucher schools to participate in the program.
Community and Mental Health Collaboration Grants—Increase funding by $750,000 per year beginning in 2018-19, up from the $2.5 million per year provided in the Governor’s bill, for a total of $3.25 million.
Require DPI to establish a competitive grant program open to school boards and independent charter school operators for the purpose of collaborating with community mental health agencies to provide services to pupils.  Lays out criteria DPI must include in the grant awarding criteria developed, requires the state superintendent to establish an advisory committee to make recommendations on criteria, and requires DPI to award at least $3.25 million in grants each school year beginning in 2018-19.
MA Consultation Regarding Student Mental Health–Provide $610,000 in Medical Assistance (MA) funding to cover the estimated cost of providing MA reimbursement  for clinical consultations between mental health practitioners and school personnel involving students up to age 21.  Clinical consultation benefits were added by a previous JFC motion; however, no funding was provided at that time.
Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants—Provide $9.2 million annually, beginning in 2018-19, for state matching grants for personal electronic computing devices. These grants would be available for public schools, charter schools, tribal schools, and all private schools.  Grants would equal $125 per 9th grade pupil.  Applicants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of DPI that they would provide equal matching funds as a condition of receiving a grant.  DPI must prorate grant payments if funding becomes insufficient.
The JFC  also approved a significant expansion of Special Needs Vouchers as well as a final wrap up motion that included a provision on special needs open enrollment payments. 
The following items related to teacher and administrator licensure were also included in the K-12 education package adopted by the JFC:
Eliminate Expiration Dates for Teaching and Administrator Licenses–Provisional three-year licenses would be provided for new educators, administrators, and pupil service professionals, with a lifetime license granted after the completion of six semesters of successful experience, as certified by the school board(s) where the person worked.
Continue to require the DPI to conduct background checks on behalf of school districts as under current law.  Require the DPI to issue a provisional three-year license to current holders of initial licenses, who could then acquire a lifetime license after six semesters of successful service. Provisional three-year licenses could be renewed if the holder does not complete six semesters of experience within three years.
Teacher Licensure Rule-making Process–Require the DPI to submit a proposed  rule to the Legislature by January 1, 2018, revising PI 34, which contains the existing administrative rule provisions related to teacher licensure. The rule could not reduce the standard of quality for obtaining a teacher license. Require the rule to simplify the licensure system as much as practicable, including at least all of the following:
  • simplify the grade levels licensees can teach and create broad field subject licenses;
  • enable school districts to increase the number of teachers by offering internships and residency opportunities;
  • simplify out-of-state licensure reciprocity;
  • expand pathways for existing licensees to fill positions in geographic areas or subject areas that are in need of educational personnel; and
  • create a permit that allows a person enrolled in an educator preparation program to work in a school district as part of an internship, residency program, or equivalent program.
Teaching and Administrator License Based on Reciprocity–Delete current law requiring that an individual has to have received an offer of employment from a school in Wisconsin to be eligible for a teaching or administrator license based on reciprocity.
Faculty Teaching in Public High Schools–Allow a faculty member of an institution of higher education to teach in a public high school or charter school operating only high school grades without a license or permit from the DPI if they successfully complete a background check.
Alternative Teacher Preparation Program–Require the DPI to grant an initial teaching license to an individual who meets the following criteria:
  • possesses a bachelor’s degree;
  • has successfully completed an alternative teacher certification program operated by an alternative program provider that is a  501(c)(3) non-profit that operates in at least five states and has been in operation for at least ten years, and that requires the candidate to pass a subject area exam and the Professional Teaching Knowledge pedagogy exam to receive a certificate under the program; and successfully completes a background check. This license would authorize an individual to teach the subject and educational levels for which the individual successfully completed this program.
Substitute Teacher Permit for Individuals with Associate’s Degree–Require the State Superintendent to grant a substitute teacher permit to an individual with a two-year degree or its equivalent and substitute teacher training.
Online Teacher Reciprocity–Provide that an individual who is located in another state but teaches an online course through a virtual charter or public school located in Wisconsin, and who holds a license or permit to teach that subject and level in their state, would be appropriately licensed to teach that subject and level in Wisconsin.
Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) Teaching License–Require the DPI to grant a license to an individual to provide instruction to pupils enrolled in a JROTC program offered in the high school grades if the individual satisfies the following criteria:
  • possesses a bachelor’s degree;
  • successfully completed a JROTC instructor certification program; and
  • fulfills current law requirements related to criminal convictions and background checks for educators.
The license under this provision would authorize the individual to teach the courses for which the individual successfully completed the JROTC certification process.
The full budget now heads to the State Assembly for a floor vote on Wednesday, Sept. 13 with a Senate vote expected soon afterwards.  After an identical version passes both houses, Gov. Scott Walker has the opportunity to use his veto pen to make final modifications.  The Legislature has the power to override any veto with a two-thirds majority vote by both houses.