Monday, June 1, 2015

Updates from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards

I would like to update you on several Wisconsin Association of School Boards Joint Finance Committee (JFC) decisions that will affect School Districts. These decisions will have an impact on the work we do in the School District of Janesville. A lot of decisions we make in the district are a direct result of the decisions of the Joint Finance Committee.


WASB Statement on Joint Finance Committee
K-12 Education Package
The K-12 education package adopted by the Joint Finance Committee late Tuesday night is certainly a mixed bag for public schools.  On the one hand, school boards welcome the committee’s action to restore the proposed $127 million cut to per pupil aid in the first year and to provide additional funding of $100 per pupil in the second year of the budget.
On the other hand, several policy items included in the package we fear could be very detrimental to public schools and our State’s tradition of local control.  These proposals, the specifics of which received no public hearings and were put together in private, could siphon a significant amount of funding from public schools as well as raise property taxes.  We believe these items need to be fully debated and vetted in the light of day.
In the end, this budget will likely see Wisconsin fall below the national average for per pupil funding for the first time ever. This is a truly disappointing trend for Wisconsin at a time when the vast majority of other states are increasing funding for public schools by 4 to 4.5 percent per year.  We are hopeful that the Senate and Assembly take a second look when the budget reaches the houses for their consideration. (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


JFC Budget: $0 Increase in Resources in First Year;
$100 Increase in Second Year
While the additional $200 million in the K-12 spending package adopted by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is welcomed, it is important that school board members view this increase in context.
Of the $200 million added by the JFC’s actions, $127 million simply restores the proposed cut in per pupil aid in the first year (2015-16) of the two-year state budget (That aid will be paid on a delayed basis in July 2016, which means it will be paid in the next fiscal year). The remainder ($69 million) is used to provide a $100 increase in per pupil aid in the second year (2016-17.)  This is the good news.
The bad news is that for the first time since revenue limits were implemented in 1993-94, there is no increase in the per pupil amount in either year of the 2015-17 state budget.
There is a $0 increase in general aid in the first year and a $108 million increase in the second year; however, because per pupil revenue limits are not adjusted, this increase effectively reduces property taxes rather than increases resources for schools.
The chart below illustrates the recent history of legislative changes in per pupil resources for school districts. It depicts the year by year increases (or decreases) in revenue limits and per pupil.
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


JFC Budget: Voucher Advocates Win Big
The education spending package approved after midnight on Tuesday by GOP members of the Joint Finance Committee removes the overall enrollment cap on the statewide voucher program,changes the way voucher payments in the statewide and Racine voucher programs are funded, and increases the per pupil payments taxpayer-funded voucher schools would receive in the expanded statewide, Racine and Milwaukee voucher programs.
The plan also creates a statewide special needs voucher program under which students with disabilities could attend private schools at taxpayer expense if they have been denied transfer into a public school under the state’s public school open enrollment program, beginning in 2016-17. Participating private schools would receive $12,000 per student each year. (The creation of special need vouchers is covered below.)
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


JFC Budget Creates Special Education
Voucher Program
The K-12 education funding package approved by the Joint Finance Committee early Wednesdaymorning creates a special education voucher program, beginning in 2016-17, that will allow a child with a disability to attend a participating private school located in Wisconsin with a $12,000 voucher, if that child have been previously denied open enrollment in a nonresident school district under the public school open enrollment program.
(Note: The JFC package also modifies public school open enrollment for students with disabilities in ways that should make it easier for students with disabilities to transfer to a nonresident public school district through open enrollment. These changes, which theWASB worked to develop , along with disability rights groups, school administrators, special education administrators and the DPI, will be described in a separate post.)
To be eligible for a special needs voucher, a child must have attended a public school in Wisconsin for the entire school year immediately preceding the school year in which the child seeks to participate in the voucher program and must have an individualized education plan (IEP) or services plan in place.
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


JFC Budget: Provisions on Accountability,
Standards and Notice of Educational Options
School Accountability (Report Cards)
The JFC proposal deletes the governor’s provision requiring a school’s and district’s level of performance be identified using a letter grade (A-F) system and instead requires utilizing a 5 “star” system.  5 stars would be used for schools and districts that “significantly exceed expectations” with 1 star for schools and districts that “fail to meet expectations” on the report cards.  The WASB views this as an improvement.
The JFC approved the governor’s proposal to adjust how performance scores would be weighted to account for student poverty rates and the length of time a student has been educated in the school system, beginning with report cards issued in September 2016.  In determining a school’s performance or a school district’s improvement, DPI must take into account the percentage of economically disadvantaged pupils enrolled in the school or school district and the length of time a pupil was enrolled in the school or school district.
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


JFC Budget: Pupil Assessment Provisions
Pupil Assessments
The JFC budget approves the governor’s recommendation to prohibit the state superintendent from adopting or approving examinations developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Badger Exam) and prohibits the state from participating in the Smarter Balanced Consortium.  The budget continues to fund implementation of the Dynamic Learning assessment system and the American College Testing (ACT) suite of tests.  The ACT tests are administered to students in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades.
The budget version adopted by the JFC also eliminates the requirement that schools administer the ninth grade examination in the fall session (schools are still required to administer the ninth grade examination in the spring session).
In addition, the JFC budget bill would require that any assessment adopted and approved by the State Superintendent to replace the Badger Exam must meet the following criteria:
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


Several Budget Provisions Added by JFC
Directly Impact School Boards' Powers and Duties 
Numerous provisions added to the proposed 2015-17 state budget by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) late last night would directly affect school board powers and duties.  Among these are the following:
·  Modifying the date by which a school board must give a teacher or administrator written notice of renewal or refusal to renew the teacher’s or administrator’s contract to be 15 days after the passage of the state budget in the odd-numbered years, and May 15th in even-numbered years.  (A teacher or administrator must accept or reject the contract no later than 30 days after the renewal notification deadline.)
·  Prohibiting a school board from granting a high school diploma to an individual unless he or she has successfully completed a civics assessment, beginning in the 2016-17 school year;
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


Gov. Walker Signs 'Data Delay' Bill Into Law
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a Republican-authored bill (Senate Bill 67) that ensures student scores on the statewide “Badger Exam” all publicly-funded students in grades 3 through 8 are taking this spring won’t be used in evaluating teachers or put on report cards measuring school performance.
The roll-out of the Badger Exam–which was known as the SmarterBalanced Assessment before it was renamed by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)– is aligned with the Common Core academic standards.  The test was beset by implementation problems and higher than anticipated costs. generating widespread criticism from parents, school districts, state policymakers and the governor.
 (complete article cont'd on website - see below)


Please visit the website below to view more information on these bills. Once you arrive at the WASB website click on the “Advocacy and Government Relations” tab and then Legislature Update. You can then use the search feature to read any of the articles.

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