Category Archives: Federal Issue

DPI/DHS Webinar today (at 1:00 p.m.) on getting schools certified to conduct COVID-19 testing

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

Puzzled about how best to spend federal COVID relief funds? Resources are available.

Last Friday (4/16), the WASB Government Relations team hosted Bob Soldner from the DPI as a guest at our weekly noon-hour Capitol Chat webinar.  Bob is the Assistant State Superintendent for School Finance and Management. 

In his presentation Bob described the DPI resources available to help districts with potential uses of federal “ESSER” funds.  (“ESSER” is an acronym that is short for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief.  These are the funds provided to K-12 education under the three main federal COVID relief packages.) Continue reading Puzzled about how best to spend federal COVID relief funds? Resources are available.

Joint education committee informational hearing today on federal fund usage

The Senate and Assembly Committees on Education will hold a joint informational hearing on Thursday, April 8 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 411 South, State Capitol. The committees are chaired by state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and are scheduled to take invited testimony only on “Federal Funding Distributed to Wisconsin related to K-12 Education.” The hearing will be covered live on WisconsinEye. The WASB GR staff will monitor the hearing and report anything worth noting to our members.

The committees have invited the following speakers for this hearing: Continue reading Joint education committee informational hearing today on federal fund usage

President proposes infrastructure plan including broadband expansion and school projects

From the NSBA connection: Politico (3/29, Stratford) reports President Joe Biden is expected to unveil new details about his multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan this week. Biden said during his press conference last week that schools would be a focus of his infrastructure push, noting the decline of the nation’s classrooms: “How many schools where the kids can’t drink the water out of the fountain? How many schools are still in the position where there’s asbestos? How many schools in America we’re sending our kids to don’t have adequate ventilation?” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the House education committee, likewise “told state education leaders last week that he expects schools will be part of the infrastructure bill.” According to Politico, “increasing federal funding for school construction isn’t likely to be an area of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.” Continue reading President proposes infrastructure plan including broadband expansion and school projects

Partisan gaps over use/control of latest federal COVID relief funds are wide

Yesterday (3/29), Gov. Evers unveiled his initial plan for allocating $3.2 billion in federal funding the state of Wisconsin is slated to receive from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

Evers also announced he had vetoed a bill that would have given the Legislature more say over the use of those funds, according to a statement from the administration.

Legislative Republicans who control both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature had passed legislation requiring legislative oversight and approval of the federal funds, but Evers vetoed Senate Bill 183, saying it would prevent funds from going out to people who need them the most.  

Continue reading Partisan gaps over use/control of latest federal COVID relief funds are wide

U.S. Education Dept. announces official American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding allocations

Today (3/17) the U.S. Department of Education announced funding allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) for all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

The announcement includes a table outlining the individual funding amounts that will be distributed to each state.

These allocations are from the $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding 

Continue reading U.S. Education Dept. announces official American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding allocations

President Biden signs COVID relief bill

President Joe Biden today signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) into law. 

The nearly $1.9 trillion pandemic recovery legislation includes approximately $122.8 billion for K-12 public schools, about $7.17 billion for technology resources for schools to help close the homework gap, and $3 billion for IDEA, among other provisions.  The bill also allocates $2.75 billion in dedicated funding for nonpublic schools. Continue reading President Biden signs COVID relief bill

GOP legislators request Gov. Evers prioritize districts with in-person instruction for federal funds

In keeping with the theme of getting all K-12 students back to in-person instruction, and foreshadowing a potential preview of how state funds might be allocated to schools in a legislative budget counter-proposal, numerous key GOP legislators have sent a letter to Gov. Evers asking him to prioritize federal funding for districts with full-time in-person instruction over those providing instruction in a virtual or hybrid format. The letter was signed by 52 GOP lawmakers including nearly every GOP member of the Joint Finance Committee. Continue reading GOP legislators request Gov. Evers prioritize districts with in-person instruction for federal funds

Feds to offer waivers from ESEA accountability requirements but not from assessments

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) sent a letter to the chief state school officers “inviting states to request a waiver for the 2020-2021 school year of the accountability and school identification requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  A state receiving this waiver would not be required to implement and report the results of its accountability system, including calculating progress toward long-term goals and measurements of interim progress or indicators, or to annually meaningfully differentiate among its public schools using data from the 2020-2021 school year.”

The letter also addresses assessments and makes it clear that waivers from federal assessment requirements will not be issued by the Secretary of Education..

Continue reading Feds to offer waivers from ESEA accountability requirements but not from assessments

JFC directs $65 million in federal funds to districts in proportion to hours of in-person instruction

In what may well be an harbinger of a potentially contentious budget struggle over public school funding, the powerful GOP-led Joint Finance Committee (JFC) yesterday voted down, along party lines, a DPI plan to equitably distribute roughly $65 million in federal Coronavirus relief funds to schools (see previous blog post) and replace it with a plan that directs the funding to districts based on the extent to which they are providing in-person instruction.

Wisconsin state statute gives the JFC authority to review and object to the distribution of federal funds by the DPI if they reflect an increase of 5 percent or more above the federal funds indicated in the Chapter 20 appropriations schedule. No vote of the full Legislature nor approval by the governor is required.  

Continue reading JFC directs $65 million in federal funds to districts in proportion to hours of in-person instruction