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Legislative Update


DPI Releases COVID-19 Flexibility Framework, District Flexibility Applications

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released its new COVID-19 Regulatory Flexibility Framework this morning (Friday 8/7) via a letter from State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor posted to the District Administrators’ chronological email webpage.

The framework consists of two parts: a COVID-19 flexibility application form and a series of policy provisions on key topics to address districts’ flexibility needs.

The policy provisions begin with the information attached to the State Superintendent’s letter, and cover topics such as pupil count dates, transportation, licensure, school nutrition, and the school day milk program. read more…

U.S. Senate leader predicts coronavirus relief deal will come soon

U.S. Senate leader predicts coronavirus relief deal will come soon

From The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday predicted that White House negotiators, Democratic leaders and Senate Republicans will reach a deal “in the near future” to approve another round of federal coronavirus relief.

“Exactly when that deal comes together I couldn’t tell you, but I think it will at some point in the near future,” McConnell said in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” when asked about the chances of reaching a deal by Friday, a deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. read more…

Numerous current, former school board members running on next Tuesday’s ballot

Next Tuesday, August 11, is the date of Wisconsin’s August partisan primary election.  The WASB government relations staff has identified at least 18 current or former Wisconsin school board members whose names will appear on the ballot, running for seats in either the Wisconsin Legislature or Congress.  (If you are aware of others who we may have missed, please let us know and we will update this post accordingly.)

While the WASB is forbidden from making political contributions or endorsing candidate, we can take note of which of our current and former members have stepped forward to place their names on the ballot.  These include:

read more…

Legislative Council Early Literacy Symposia Series starts Wednesday

In an earlier blog post, we reported on a different approach the Legislative Council is taking to its traditional interim period activities.  Scrapped, for this year only, is the traditional study committee approach. In its place will be a series of virtual symposium sessions on selected topics.

The first of these will be a virtual Early Literacy Symposia Series that will take place over the course of several Wednesdays in the month of August and the first week in September. All of the virtual presentations will begin at 2 pm, starting this Wednesday (8/5). 

Scheduled sessions include the following: read more…

Despite pressure, Congress making little headway on additional coronavirus relief

Progress on an additional federal coronavirus relief package seems to have stalled somewhat, dimming hopes that more federal relief for schools can be enacted before the new school year starts in many states. Also unaddressed is the fate of the expansion of federal coronavirus unemployment benefits that ran out over the weekend.

Although negotiations continue on Capitol Hill, key senators, including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate majority leader, appear not to have been a part of them. For now, the talks are said to be largely taking place between the White House and the leadership of the House of Representatives.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly hosted the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, for closed-door meetings on Saturday. They were joined in further meetings today (Monday, 8/3) by Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

read more…

Governor Evers issues mandatory statewide face coverings order

Governor Evers issues mandatory statewide face coverings order

Gov. Tony Evers today declared a Public Health Emergency and issued an Emergency Order requiring individuals to wear face coverings when indoors and not in a private residence, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020, and will expire on September 28, 2020.

A spokesperson for the governor confirmed to the WASB that the order requiring face coverings is intended to apply to schools.

Further, the Governor’s order supercedes any less restrictive local orders that may already be in place.

read more…

Additional details on education provision in Senate GOP COVID-19 aid package

Additional details on education provision in Senate GOP COVID-19 aid package

From NSBA: Senate Republicans unveiled a new COVID-19 pandemic response plan with a total funding level of approximately $1 trillion. It addresses public education in a variety of ways. The proposed legislation includes $105 billion for education including approximately $70 billion for K-12 education. However, two-thirds of the funding is only available to districts with approved re-opening plans that must be submitted to and approved by the Governor.  Republican leaders are referring to the comprehensive legislative section focused on appropriations as the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools). 

The legislation in its current form has significant opposition but it will be used as a starting point for negotiations with the Democrats. It is expected it will change significantly as it moves through the legislative process. However, we wanted to highlight the proposal’s major education components and their potential impact on local school districts. There are multiple major troublesome issues with the legislation including inadequate funding levels, no dedicated funds for the homework gap, shifts toward moving funds to private education, and requirements around school building reopening restricting many of the funds. The summary of the major legislative sections impacting public schools follows: read more…

U.S. Senate leader predicts coronavirus relief deal will come soon

Fed update: Senate GOP school aid package would tie two-thirds of funding to reopening to in-person instruction

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.” read more…

WI Policy Forum: State’s share of public spending rising

WI Policy Forum: State’s share of public spending rising

The following is from a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum:

“Because of higher state spending in areas like health care for low-income residents and slower growth in local government and school district revenues, the latest Census Bureau data show state government expenditures are now almost equal to the combined amount spent by schools, municipalities, counties, technical colleges, and other local governments in Wisconsin. The effects of the pandemic are unclear but the trend should be considered by policymakers as they contemplate COVID-19 responses and the next state budget.

“In other words, the balance of spending in Wisconsin has shifted to something much closer to an even split between local government services (such as K-12 schools, police and fire, local roads, and housing) and state services (such as health care for low-income residents, prisons, state highways, and the University of Wisconsin System). read more…

Gov. Evers announces 155 schools eligible for $46.6 million in federal CARES Act grants

Gov. Evers announces 155 schools eligible for $46.6 million in federal CARES Act grants

From the governor’s office: Gov. Evers today announced that 155 local education agencies (LEAs) are eligible to apply for the $46.6 million provided to Wisconsin through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund), established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The announcement comes as last month the governor announced more than $80 million in financial assistance for K-12 schools and higher education.

A map of most impacted school districts is available here. A list of eligible GEER funding for school districts, independent charters, and tribal schools is available here. read more…

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As the state and federal government consider new flexibility and funding measures for education, advocacy is as important as ever. Next Wednesday, the WASB will hold an online workshop to help you advocate for your students. Learn more and register: wasb.org/meeting-and-ev… pic.twitter.com/LGgDNnBbr8

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