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October 4, 2013

For more information, contact Dan Rossmiller or Joe Quick

The WASB Legislative Update newsletter is provided to all school board members and district administrators.
In this issue:

  • Common Core Hearings Slated in Three More Locations
  • Proposal For Statewide Expansion of Independent Charter Schools Appears To Be On Fast Track
  • UW System Unveils Plan for Separating UW, WiscNet Assets
  • Not Too Late to Weigh In, Offer Ideas on E-Rate Changes; Make Your Voice Heard by October 16th
  • Upcoming Meetings
  • Inside Scoop
  • News Briefs
  • Food for Thought
Common Core Hearings Slated in Three More Locations

Following the hearing in Madison this week on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the special committees examining all the issues surrounding Wisconsin’s adoption of the CCSS announced there will be three more hearings on successive Wednesdays beginning October 16 (see details below).

School board members who have concerns about the CCSS and want to either testify at the hearings or communicate to committee members regarding those concerns may want to consider explaining their district’s investment of time and money related to teacher-training, curriculum purchase/development associated with the standards, and providing student achievement data relevant to the examination of the CCSS.

All of the hearings are scheduled to run from 2-8 p.m.

  • Oct. 16 at the Fond du Lac City/County Building, 160 S. Macy Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935
  • Oct. 23 at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, 620 W Clairemont Ave  Eau Claire, WI 54701
  • Oct. 30 at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, 1000 W. Campus Drive | Wausau, WI 54401

Comments should be directed to the committee chairmen Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee), and request that your information to be forwarded to other committee members.

State Supt. Tony Evers’ testimony before the special committees
View Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage
View Wisconsin State Journal (Associated Press) coverage


Proposal For Statewide Expansion of Independent Charter Schools
Appears To Be On Fast Track

The Senate Committee on Education held a public hearing Thursday (Oct. 3) on a newly-revised version of Senate Bill 76 with far-reaching implications for local school board control and local property taxes.

The revised version (Senate Substitute Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 76), which became public less than 48 hours before the hearing, could force school boards that have established charter schools to "replicate" or add additional charter schools if the charter school operator's schools are deemed to have a "proven track record of success" during the 2 immediately preceding school years (as defined in the substitute amendment). To our knowledge, never in state history has the Legislature has dictated that a local school board must create a school nor has it dictated who must operate that school.

In addition, the revised version eliminates a current statutory provision that requires school boards to "consider the fiscal impact of the establishment of the charter school on the school district" when a district receives a petition for the creation of a charter school.

The revised version also greatly expands the number of entities other than school boards that may contract for the establishment of independent (i.e., non-school-board-authorized) charter schools. The expanded list of authorizers under the revised bill now includes the chancellors of all UW System institutions, the dean of the UW Colleges, all technical college districts boards, and CESA boards of control.

Per pupil payments to independent charter schools (currently $7,925 per pupil) are funded through a draw on the general school aids that would otherwise be payable to every school district in the state. Because local districts are allowed to levy property taxes to make up for the lost state aid, expansion of independent charter schools results in an increase in local property taxes. In the 2012-13 school year, the reduction in general aid attributable to independent charters (about $59 million) was 1.4 percent statewide on average. In the current (2013-14) school year, the reduction is estimate to climb to roughly $64 million The amount of this draw will surely increase under this bill per pupil payments increase and as more and more independent charter schools are authorized.

WASB Government Relations Director Dan Rossmiller testified in opposition to the revised bill's impact on school boards and local control.  He cautioned lawmakers to give serious thought before going down the road this bill would take us to.

Rossmiller cautioned, "This revised bill, albeit it in a limited manner, not only mandates local school boards to create new schools but it mandates with whom school districts must contract for the operation of those new schools. To my knowledge, never in the history of our state has the Legislature acted in this way toward locally elected school boards.

"Here’s an analogy. Imagine that the Legislature told a municipality: If you have contracted with an engineering firm or a road contractor to build a bridge for you, then that contractor can come back to you and say, the bridge we built is one of the top performing bridges, therefore, you must contract with us to build another bridge, whether you need or want another bridge or not.

"I highly doubt that you would ever do such a thing. Yet that is precisely the model this bill sets up for charter schools and school boards." 


UW System Unveils Plan for Separating UW, WiscNet Assets

University of Wisconsin (UW) System officials this week outlined the plans, cost and timeline for setting up its own high-speed Internet network to transition away from utilizing internet access and other services provided by WiscNet, a private, membership-based nonprofit cooperative that provides similar services to many schools and libraries.

That separation was necessitated by provisions in 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, the 2011-13 state budget, which required UW System institutions to discontinue their WiscNet memberships and make alternative arrangements to obtain internet access service.

UW System officials now say separating WiscNet’s assets -- including network infrastructure -- from those of the UW will require at 14 months least and $13 million more, which would mean pushing back a statutory deadline for the UW to sever ties with the non-profit Internet access provider.

The plan revealed this week would see WiscNet sever its remaining ties with UW System by September 2014. This would require the Legislature to change the original deadline for ending those ties. UW currently has until the end of 2013 to do so, but is asking to delay that deadline to Jan 1, 2015.

Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee Chair, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), says she still needs more information on the plan before she can support pushing back the deadline.

UW System spokesperson David Anderson told a briefing this week that UW will still need to rely on WiscNet during the transition phase to ensure no disruption in service. He also stipulated the new network would only serve UW System and not partner with private telecoms to supply Internet to any nearby communities or organizations.

UW officials stressed their attempts to comply with that law and noted that 75 percent of the funds they plan to spend on infrastructure would go toward the private sector.

UW plan for building a new network
View Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage


Not Too Late to Weigh In, Offer Ideas on E-Rate Changes;
Make Your Voice Heard by October 16th

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched the most comprehensive call for modernization of the E-Rate program since it was enacted in 1996, and it is not too late to make your voice heard.  What could your school district do with additional E-Rate funds? Transition to high speed Internet and/or Broadband? Expand connectivity to additional schools and classrooms? Are there barriers to your school district's participation in E-Rate, such as complexity of the application process? What could it mean to your students and your district if the promise of E-Rate was realized through the current modernization process?

To tell your story, follow the instructions below: 

Steps to file E-Rate Comments with the Federal Communications Commission

  1. Go to FCC Comment Webpage: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/
  2. Select Submit a Filing
  3. Insert the proceeding number: 13-184
  4. Under Contact Info, fill out relevant information (Name of Filer, etc). While you only have to fill out sections with an asterisk, you may want to include an email address for receipt purposes.
  5. Under Details, select COMMENT from the drop down menu for Type of Filing
  6. Under Address, fill out asterisked information
  7. Under Documents, upload your comment from your computer
  8. Also Under Documents, insert short Custom Description: sample: __________ District/School Comment on E-Rate NPRM.
  9. Hit Continue to formally file
  10. Send a copy of your Comment to WASB, c/o Joe Quick, WASB Government Relations Specialist.

Upcoming Meetings

The next legislative floorperiod is scheduled to begin October 8.


Senate Committee on Government Operations, Public Works, and Telecommunications
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 9:30 a.m.
Room 411 South, State Capitol

Public Hearing on:
Senate Bill 317, relating to: race-based nicknames, logos, mascots, and team names.

Senate Bill 318, relating to: authorizing the City of Milwaukee to sell eligible school facilities to eligible purchasers.

Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice
Thursday, Oct.10, 10:00 a.m.
Room 300 Northeast, State Capitol

Public Hearing on:
Assembly Bill 9, relating to: law enforcement officers who are on duty, off-duty law enforcement officers, and former law enforcement officers and going armed with firearms.



WASB Region 6 Regional Meeting (Tomah)
Tuesday, Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. dinner, 7:00 p.m. program
Tomah High School
901 Lincoln Avenue
Tomah (map)

WASB Region 10 Regional Meeting (Baraboo)
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. dinner, 7:00 p.m. program
Clarion Hotel/Glacier Rock
626 W. Pine Street
Baraboo (map)


Inside Scoop

inside scoop graphic


State Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greenfield) announced this week that he has submitted his resignation from the State Assembly. Rep. Stone is being appointed, by Governor Walker, to serve as the new Division Administrator for Water Compliance and Consumer Affairs at the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Stone will replace former state Rep. Scott Suder at the PSC, who was recently appointed to that state position. Suder has accepted a position as the Vice-President of Government Relations at the Wisconsin Paper Council. Suder begins his position at the Paper Council Oct. 7.

Rep. Stone’s resignation is effective Monday, October 14.

Governor Walker can call a special election for Rep. Stone’s seat after October 14.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article

The non-partisan state Legislative Audit Bureau reports that the Read to Lead Development Fund established by Gov. Scott Walker -- and approved by the Legislature in 2011 -- has spent none ($0) of its $400,000 budget as of June 30, 2013. The Read to Lead program is designed to promote early childhood education and boost literacy.

The Read to Lead Development Fund was created by 2011 Wisconsin Act 166 to provide grants to school boards and other persons in support of literacy and early childhood development programs. The audit also found that the governor hasn't yet appointed the fund's governing council, which is to recommend how the money be used.

View full Legislative Audit Bureau Report
View WASB New Laws Write-up for 2011 Wisconsin Act 166

Lawmakers held a public hearing on Thursday (Oct. 3) on a bill  (Assembly Bill 297) to change the rules for challenging the use of race-based mascots, logos and nicknames by public schools.  As this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report describes, the hearing was contentious.

Proponents of the bill told members of the Assembly Committee on Government Operations and State Licensing Wisconsin's current law makes it too easy to force school districts to drop Indian logos and mascots, while opponents of the change said rewriting the law would perpetuate the use of logos ans mascots Native Americans find offense, thus fostering discrimination

In addition to making it more difficult to force schools to drop their team names, logos and mascots, the measure would void rulings since 2010 against the Mukwonago Area School District and other districts ordering them to drop their Indian team names.

On Sept. 17, the state Senate concurred in 2013 Assembly Bill 11, which would create notification requirements for registered sex offenders who are on school premises and provide penalties. The bill was approved by Senate on a voice vote. Three amendments to the bill were offered in the Assembly, although none were adopted. The bill passed the Assembly in May by a vote of 95-1. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.



News Briefs

news brief icon

Topics covered in this week’s collection of stories from the state and national media include more Beloit students taking technical classes, Manitowoc Schools offer small business opportunity for students with disabilities, hearings begin on Common Core State Standards and other stories. Read about these and other stories in this week’s News Briefs.


Food For Thought

corniacopiathe thinker“It seems to me that if the state is going to pay for education at voucher schools, the taxpayers are entitled to see how those students are doing. They should be taking the same tests and the results presented in the same way so you can draw comparisons.” – Madison School Board member Ed Hughes, after attending a forum where Jim Bender, President of School Choice Wisconsin, said the accountability change for voucher schools was ‘political’

"(Schools) already bought curriculum, principals are telling teachers to step it up and all of the sudden the governor is sending mixed signals. What does that mean?"  – Senate Education Committee chairman Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), perplexed that Gov. Scott Walker is now calling for more rigorous Wisconsin standards than what is in the Common Core State Standards

“I’m stunned by this. Twice now we have had plan design changes that have reduced the cost for us. Obviously, through board action, we have been able to alter the benefits structure, and we were able to change the co-pays and all those types of things. Marshfield has become the poster child for the right way to do this as it relates to health insurance costs.” Pat Saucerman, business director for the Marshfield School District, commenting to a reporter about insurance savings related to passage of Act 10.

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