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.
Continue reading DPI/DHS Webinar today (at 1:00 p.m.) on getting schools certified to conduct COVID-19 testing
A new analysis of the state’s finances released yesterday (1/26) by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) projects that state revenues over the current fiscal year and the next two fiscal years comprising the 2021-23 biennial budget will be $1.156 billion higher overall, than earlier estimates released in November by the state Department of Administration (DOA). That will ease pressures on state finances somewhat and could mean lawmakers will be able to provide some of those additional revenues to fund schools in the upcoming 2021-23 biennium.
In a memo to the co-chairs of the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, LFB Director Bob Lang wrote that the state is now expected to finish the current fiscal year on June 30, 2021 with a gross balance of nearly $1.9 billion, compared to more than $1.2 billion that been had projected back in November.
Continue reading New state fiscal forecast provides cause for optimism
In this Thanksgiving season many of us are taking time to express thanks in a variety of ways. Yesterday, WASB Executive Director John Ashley wrote to Gov. Evers to thank him for supporting local school board decision-making during this difficult pandemic.
As we reported in an earlier blog post, Gov. Evers publicly supported school boards during a recent press conference where he was asked about a call by the state’s largest teachers union for the state to mandate uniform “return to school” criteria on all school districts in Wisconsin. When asked to comment on that request, the governor responded that local school boards, administrators and teachers statewide were “doing their best” and there are places where in-person instruction is “frankly, working well” and that it is “a difficult thing for us to sit here and talk about it being a one (single, uniform) answer to 420-some school districts.”
The WASB appreciates that the governor recognized that school boards and administrators are doing the best job they can as they make difficult decisions that balance the science and their own community’s circumstances.
Continue reading WASB thanks Governor for supporting school boards, local control
The Report to the Membership on Proposed 2021 WASB Resolutions has now been posted on the WASB website. The report presents the resolutions that were advanced by the Policy & Resolutions Committee and will be considered by the 2021 WASB Delegate Assembly along with the rationale for each resolution.
The WASB Delegate Assembly will held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. This year, for the first time, the Delegate Assembly will be held using a virtual format. More information for delegates will be forthcoming, including specific information about how to participate in online format of this year’s Delegate Assembly.
School leaders and others who are not delegates will be able to watch a streaming video of the proceedings of the Delegate Assembly.
Watch the WASB Legislative Update Blog for more information.
Tuesday, Nov. 3 is election day. It goes with saying that this is an important election for our state and nation. It is also an important election for school districts.
As we have noted in previous posts, there are 51 local school referenda in 41 districts on Tuesday’s ballot. There are also at least 13 current and former school board members running for state or federal legislative office.
In addition, school board members and administrators are reminded that 2019 Act 185 requires all school districts to report the impacts of school closures to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) by November 1, 2020. DPI is required to report this information to the legislature and will be posting it on the department’s website.
The DPI developed a survey tool to collect this information. District administrators should have received a unique link to access the survey tool on August 10, 2020. Additional information regarding this required survey is available here.
Many school districts across the state are facing teacher and staff supply challenges that have been made worse by the pandemic. As we reported in an earlier blog post, the WASB–along with other K-12 advocacy groups–has urged legislative leaders to take up and pass a set of statutory changes to address, among other things, teacher licensing flexibility, and potential revenue losses due to fluctuations in September pupil counts.
In response to calls for greater teacher licensure flexibility amid that challenges posed by the pandemic, the DPI has initiated rulemaking changes to Chapter PI 34, the administrative rules chapter relating to teacher licensing. The department is referring to these changes as “Licensing flexibilities during a pandemic declaration” in its scope statement. Continue reading DPI readying rule changes to provide teacher licensing flexibility during COVID pandemic
As we reported in an earlier blog post, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced in late August that it would be making up to 125 million cloth face masks available to states for distribution to schools. Wisconsin’s share of this distribution is to be 1.6 million masks.
At the time of our earlier blog post, it was unknown when the masks would arrive. We now have an update to report.
According to sources in touch with staff of the state Department of Health Services (DHS) and Wisconsin Emergency Management that are working on this project, the state received a shipment of cloth face masks from DHHS last week. However, the amount the state received is half of what it had been expecting and the masks that were received are sized for middle and high school students. The other half of the shipment is expected to arrive in late September to early October.
Continue reading Update on cloth mask distribution to schools and child care centers
Numerous school boards and their property taxpayers could be in for an unwelcome surprise when property tax bills arrive this December. This is due to errors made by the state Department of Revenue coupled with the Legislature’s failure to pass legislation to correct those errors.
This week, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) began notifying local taxing jurisdictions, including school districts, of what is likely to happen without legislative action to fix this problem.
In a blog post back in April, we detailed a letter we sent to legislative leaders urging them to pass Assembly Bill 753, which, as amended, would correct this problem. However, the Senate adjourned without taking up the bill.
Continue reading Unwelcome property tax surprise awaits many school districts
As school boards finalize decisions about school reopening, the DPI is collecting survey information from Wisconsin districts that have finalized their reopening plans. (See survey form.) The request for this information went out to school districts in an email to district administrators last Monday (8/3).
The survey will remain open into early September to ensure the DPI is able to capture as many board decisions on reopening as possible. Results of this survey will be published by the DPI on its website.
It is our understanding that as of Friday noon (8/7), the Department had received responses from 197 districts.
From the NSBA National Connection:
Chalkbeat (7/27, Barnum, Darville) reports Senate Republicans introduced their coronavirus relief package Monday, which earmarks $70 billion for K-12 public and private schools. A third of that pot would go to all schools regardless of their plans for next year, but the remaining two-thirds “would only be accessible to schools if they offer some in-person instruction – something that schools in many parts of the country have decided is unsafe to do for now.” To qualify for these funds, schools will need to offer “in-person learning for at least half of their students and for at least half of the school week.” The condition placed on the funding is “a testament to the economic and political importance Republican lawmakers attach to reopening school buildings, and sets up school schedules to continue to serve as a flashpoint in the weeks ahead.” Democrats have “indicated they will strongly oppose tying funds to reopening, and education groups immediately criticized the Republican proposal.” Continue reading Fed update: Senate GOP school aid package would tie two-thirds of funding to reopening to in-person instruction