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Good Morning,

Thank you for your efforts on AB 751, please continue to talk to your legislators. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the bill was passed by the Assembly Education Committee during executive session last Wednesday without any public hearing on the damaging amendments to this bill made by Assembly Speaker Voss.

Even though this bill has made it out of committee, we must keep the pressure on to impact the vote on the floor and in the Senate.

Talking Points –It is important that we all remember:  If you presently do not have voucher students, this bill will not have an immediate impact, but with the continued statewide expansion of vouchers, it could eventually impact you in the near future. The other piece to remember is, with the continued growth of the statewide program, all schools will be impacted in the amount of aid you will receive; as the voucher program expands, everyone’s piece of the fiscal pie will become smaller.  

 Following is from a 2014 press release from former Representative Steve Kestell warning of his concerns with the expansion of the voucher program.  Representative Kestall warned that state leaders could put the state back into the sort of ‘fiscal mess’ they found themselves in before Act 10, if they didn’t think the idea through. “This is a case where ideology sort of overwhelms good sense and judgment,” Kestell said “Where people who should have known better and are good mathematicians aren’t willing to do the math. It’s because they don’t want to show what would be detrimental to their plans. And the math doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work.”

Kestell, speaking to the Sheboygan Press in an exit interview, said that expanding school choice could exacerbate already declining enrollment in rural schools. With the state funding schools on a ‘per pupil’ basis, the former Howards Grove school board member said he fears there’s no plan on how to handle that funding squeeze.

“That [rural schools] problem will be on steroids with the wide-open school choice program cutting across the state,” Kestell said. “No one has even tried to explain how we’re going to deal with that as a state. No one has tried to explain how we’re going to fund parallel school programs. Because that’s where we’re heading.”

Legislative Reminder:

Please keep the pressure on with AB 314/SB 228 regarding the 28 ACT requirement for the Academic Excellence Scholarship. I made some headway in the Assembly to get this modified, but it is important for you to also voice your concerns.  Finally, keep pressure on with the referendum bill AB 481/SB355. We need to keep reminding our legislators of the impact this will have on rural schools.

 Welcome New Members: Please welcome Washington Island and Cuba City School Districts to WiRSA.  Also. welcome to new Associate Member Dairyland Bus Services. We are excited to have you as members and look forward to working with you.

 Alert!! Morgridge Discovery Summer Science Camps: The Morgridge Institute for Research has just one spot still open for the ninth annual Summer Science Camp for students and teachers from rural Wisconsin high schools for their July 25-28 camp. One teacher will select and accompany five students for the camp, and each camp will host five schools. There is no cost to participants. Teachers are responsible for facilitating transport to and from Madison as well as accompanying the students in the dorms and through the activities during the four-day camp.

If your school is interested in this last spot, please notify me immediately. This spot will be filled on first come basis.

 

Scholarship Deadline Reminder: Please be sure to remind your Guidance Counselors that the Feb. 15th deadline, today, for WiRSA Scholarship applications.

Events from this Past Week:

  • February 8: Educational Issues Weekly Conference call
  • February 10: Rural Wisconsin Initiative Hearing Executive Session on AB 793,794,795,796,798 and 799 (See links above)
  • February10 : Possible Hearing by Assembly Education Hearing on AB 751 and  amendments
  • February 10: UW Systems Strategic Planning Ed. Experts Group Meeting
  • February 11: AWSA Convention Booth

 Events for the Upcoming Week:

  • February 15: Educational Issues Weekly Conference call
  • February 15: Initial Nonpartisan Redistricting Working Group meeting
  • February 15: Senate Education Committee – Executive Session, vote on SB 492 Pilot Program for school safety tracking
  • February 17: UW Systems Strategic Planning Ed. Experts Group Meeting
  • February 17: Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges – Public Hearing on
    • SB 633 Teacher Grant for working in rural areas
    • SB 703 Teacher Loan Program
  • February 19: WPEN Meeting
Who Is Behind More $$$ for Voucher Schools? This is an interesting link describing the money behind Voucher Schools. 

Have a great week.