Good Morning,

This past week was busy with numerous meetings and hearings. On Tuesday, we held our Board meeting and welcomed our new members Chuck Keller, Teacher at Weston, Ben Niehaus, District Administrator at Florence School District and Fred Reckling, Board of Education Member from Portage.  Jeremy Biehl, CESA 5 Director, took over as President with Bob Houts becoming Past President, Diana Bohman took over as Secretary, Ken Kasinski is the President Elect and Jerry Walters will remain the Treasurer. We discussed next year’s conference, looked at our legislative focus for this year and Leah Luke shared the Educator Rising Pilot that Mauston and Adams Friendship will take part in. The Board has given our endorsement to this program. Thank you to the Board for the fine work they do.

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

Thank you:  Thank you to the 28 Districts that responded to the PALS Survey. This feedback will be helpful moving forward. A copy of the feedback is attached to this update.

Rural Trust’s Global Teacher Fellowship: (Deadline Feb. 12, 2016) Up to 25 fellowships will be awarded in 2016 to support the professional and personal development of rural teachers. Eligibility: Any K–12 educator working full-time and teaching at least 60% time in a rural community can apply for the fellowship. Each applicant must have 4 years teaching experience by the fellowship start date. click here 

Wisconsin Rural School Initiative:  This piece of legislation will receive a hearing this Thursday, Feb. 4th by the Assembly Committee on Mining and Rural Development at 10:00 in 328 Northwest and Chaired by Representative Kulp.  At this point, I am leaning toward registering WiRSA’s support of these bills. Although more needs to be done, this piece of legislation is a start and will hopefully open up more dialogue on other rural issues.  If you have any thoughts on these bills, for or against, please let me know by Wednesday.  If you would like to provide written or oral testimony for this legislation, feel free to attend or send testimony to the committee.

Academic Excellence Scholarship:  SB 228 and AB 314 . WiRSA has opposed this bill along with many other groups because of the 28 ACT requirement; the rest of the bill, with the new amendments, are a great improvement from where we started. Unfortunately, on Thursday the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges passed the amended bill in executive session with the 28 ACT still remaining in the bill. Fortunately, on Thursday we seemed to have made some impact in the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities on amending the 28 ACT.

At this point, I am encouraging you to contact your local legislators and the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities Chaired by Rep. Murphy to ask them to remove the ACT Score from this bill and to keep the present GPA language in place.  Attached is the testimony I used on Thursday along with an example, my daughter, of how the ACT is not always a true predictor. Feel free to use my information as talking points.

Events from this Past Week:

  • January 25: Weekly Ed Issues call.
  • January 26: WiRSA Board of Directors in Stevens Point
  • January 27: WPEN Meeting and I will be meeting with Todd Price of National Louis Univ. who is doing a paper on Rural Schools.
  • January 28: Assembly Education Hearing – 
  1. AB 722 School Accountability
  2. AB 734  Workforce Educ. Pilot

Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges-

  1. SB 228 Academic Excellence Scholarship – (Amended)
  2. SB 416 Rural Student Loan Forgiveness

Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities-

  1. AB 314 Acad. Excellence Scholarship
  • January 30: Farmers Union Convention in Appleton

 Events for the Upcoming Week:

  • February 1: Educational Issues Weekly Conference call
  • February 2: Senate Committee on Education Executive and Public Hearing on SB 642 Career and Workforce Pilot
  • February 3: REL Midwest Rural Research Alliance Conference Call
  • February 4: Rural Wisconsin Initiative Hearing –
  1. AB 793 Rural Teacher Loan Program
  2. AB 794 Rural Student Loan Reimb.
  3. AB 795  Youth Apprenticeship Grants
  4. AB 796 Apprenticeship Comp. Award
  5. AB 798  Broadband Expansion Grant
  6. AB 799  Rural STEM Grants

Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, helps farmers positively impact their communities by supporting local school districts. The program gives farmers the opportunity to nominate a rural public school district in their community to compete for merit-based grants. Farmer nominations for the 2016 program will be accepted from January 1 to April 1, 2016. Please visit


Morgridge Discovery Summer Science Camps: The Morgridge Institute for Research is excited to announce the ninth annual Summer Science Camp for students and teachers from rural Wisconsin high schools. There will be two offerings for the Summer Science Camp in the Discovery Building, located on UW Madison’s campus, on July 11-14 and July 25-28, 2016. 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. Teachers who would like to participate in the camp and bring students are invited to complete the following sign upThe deadline for sign-up is Monday, March 2, 2016.

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders:

 WiRSA Student Scholarship  (Deadline Feb. 15, 2016)

Have a great week.


PALS Survey

ACT Testimony