Thank you to our Sponsors: UW-Oshkosh, National Insurance Services, Culver’s VIP Foundation, Farmers Union, CESA Foundation, Forecast5, PMA, Meemic, Ehlers, Jostens and WEA Members Benefits.

Good Morning,
What beautiful weather to begin August and to start the summer wind down! The WiRSA Conference Planning Committee is close to completing the program for this year’s WiRSA Conference in November. We received many great proposals and, unfortunately, some had to be omitted due to the large number we received. Those that were left out will be used as alternates and considered for next year’s conference. On behalf of the planning committee, thank you to all members who submitted proposals. All members will receive a copy of the conference program flyer by August 25.

Welcome to WiRSA:
WiRSA would like to welcome the following new members to the organization: Kent Kindschy and the Turtle Lake School District, Tony Klaubauf and the Denmark School District, Jamie Nutter and the Fennimore School District and Associate Partner Josh Hounsell of Siemans Industry, Inc. We look forward to working with you.

State Budget Stake Holders Meeting with Governor Walker:
I will be meeting with Governor Walker and his staff on September 7 to discuss the needs of rural schools for the upcoming state budget. As we all know, funding is again going to be tight this year so I would like your feedback on what you feel are the priority areas that WiRSA should focus on.
Here are the topics at the top of my list:
1. Improved funding and funding formula for High Transportation Aid,
2. Expanding the Sparsity Aid Program,
3. Funding for Technology Infrastructure,
4. Overall School Funding and the Impact of Vouchers,
5. Increased Funding for Student Loan Reduction for Teachers/Administrators Working in Rural Communities, and
6. Funding for Whole Grade Sharing Incentive.

If you have other areas you would like me to bring to the forefront, please email me by September 2. I am also in the process of securing meetings with some of our representatives and senators to have similar discussions in the next couple of months.

2016 WiRSA Conference Registration Is Now Open:

The theme for this year’s conference is Rural Schools – Creative Best Practice. Please join us and the many great rural educators and educational leaders from across Wisconsin in Stevens Point on November 9-10. Once again, the Holiday Inn will be host to our conference. On November 8, we will be offering a free Pre-Conference Product Fair for our members and registrants to come listen to our business partners do presentations on the products they can provide. The cost of the Conference is $90 for members and $140 for non-members. We will also be running a discount until September 30 for schools wishing to bring a team of 5 for $400. Registration for the conference is now open. We hope to see you in November!

Call for WiRSA Rural Award Nominations:

Each year at our Annual Conference, WiRSA recognizes rural leaders through our awards program. Nominations can be made for Administrator of the Year, School Board Member of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Support Staff Person of the Year, Rural Advocacy and Rural Community Partner of the Year. To make a nomination, please complete the appropriate form found on the WiRSA website and return to Kim Kaukl by October 7.

School Consolidation Talk:
Over the last couple of months, school consolidation has been brought up as a possible hot topic this next legislative session. When meeting with legislators, I have and will be stressing the need to look closer at Whole Grade Sharing and financial incentives over forced consolidation.

Legislators talk of consolidating schools as a cost savings. The report was written by AIMS in Tennessee in 2004 and was comprised of mostly smaller districts in towns of less than 5-6K . It is dated but has a lot of citations that dispute the savings which always seems to be the political cover driver. This study is from 2011 that offers research as to why consolidation may not be the answer as well.

This third piece comes from Karen Ballin, former Monticello School District Superintendent, wrote her dissertation and this article for AASA on the topic of rural school consolidation in Wisconsin.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Director Events from the Past Two Weeks:
– August 1, Education Issues Conference Call
– August 4, Conference Call with Jeff Hicken, DPI Rural Awards
– August 5, CESA 3 Rural EE Pilot Workshop
– August 8, CESA 3 Rural EE Pilot Workshop
– August 9, Conference Planning Committee, finalizing the conference presenters and program.
– August 10, CESA 4 REAACT Workshop

Director Events for the Upcoming Two Weeks:
– August 15, Ed Issues Conference Call
– August 16, School Safety Meeting with Rep. Thiesfeldt
– August 16, Legislative Council Meeting #2 on School Data
– August 17, UW Stakeholders Meeting and Reception with Ray Cross
– August 23, WPEN Conference – Presenting on Rural Schools
– August 25, National Rural Schools Webinar by Battelle for Kids
– August 25, DPI Hearing on SAGE and Achievement Gap Rules

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders:

School Funding Reform for Wisconsin

– WiRSA 2016 Conference Save the Date: Rural Schools – Creative Best Practice, November 9-10 in Stevens Point, also Pre-Conference Product Fair on November 8

ESEA Information and more here.

ESSA Overview Video – Narrated PowerPoint – This information is also available off the ESEA web page on the DPI site.

Into the Outdoors – Free Classroom Resources

Meemic Teacher Back to School Grants

Meemic Foundation Grants for Teachers

Have a great couple of weeks.