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

Good Morning,
I would like to extend my heartfelt concern to the many rural areas dealing with the flooding from late summer to the present. The heavy rains have caused hardship for our rural districts through lost school time, infrastructure damage and the loss of crops. Through these difficult times, it is heartwarming to see communities and neighbors come together to support one another. It is also a great time to see how our schools, our employees and students can be a vital cog in the relief effort. Keep our friends and neighbors in your thoughts and provide support where you can.

Important Deadlines are Fast Approaching:
• Conference Team Rate Registration — September 30
• WiRSA Rural Education Awards – October 7
• WiRSA Elections — September 30
(Please see details in the Reminders section.)

Congratulations to Our Member School Presidential Teaching Award Recipients:
Lori Baryenbruch has been teaching in the River Valley School District since 1990. She currently teaches fifth grade at River Valley Elementary in Spring Green and serves as the Administrative Building Coordinator. A standout element of her application for the Presidential Teaching Award was her consistent push for students to explain their thinking and provide evidence. Students are challenged to think like real-world scientists or engineers, solving real-world problems in collaborative teams. Inspired by work as an outdoor educator at George Williams College, she has coordinated a 2-3 day outdoor adventure education overnight program for fifth-graders across her district since 1993. Notably, her overarching goal is to help her students “to develop academically, as well as socially.” She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and her master’s degree from UW-Platteville.

John Hayes has been at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River for 16 years, teaching algebra, Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. Experience as an Air Force electronics technician, work in biostatistics at Indiana University Hospital, and as a computer software engineer bring the real-world into his classroom. His AP Statistics students demonstrate their understanding of the relevance of statistics through final research project; middle school students begin computer programming; and students learn about engineering at a free Summer Engineering Camp. Hayes earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Wisconsin–Stout and a master’s degree in applied statistics from Purdue University. He is a certified Master Educator Teacher in 6–12 mathematics and is a National Board Certified Teacher in adolescent and young adult mathematics.

AmeriCorps Grant Funds:
The Wisconsin National and Community Service Board is seeking proposals from (among others) state and local units of government to operate national service programs addressing Wisconsin communities’ education, public safety, environmental, or other human needs with AmeriCorps members.

Intent to apply is mandatory and is due on September 28. Actual proposals are due November 2.

More information can be found here.

REL Southeast Self-Study Guides Aim to Help Districts and Schools Implement Literacy and Academic Interventions:
Effective interventions are critical to helping students who are struggling in school. To help ensure students get the support they need, Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southeast, in the Institute of Education Sciences, has developed three guides to assist educators and administrators in planning, implementing, and improving intervention:
Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventions (grades K-2)

Self-Study Guide for Implementing Literacy Interventions in Grades 3-8

Self-study Guide for Implementing High School Academic Interventions (literacy and math, grades 9-12)

All three guides are organized according to eight areas that research indicates are important for implementation of interventions—student selection; assessment selection and data use; content and instruction; instructional time; interventionist or teacher selection; professional development and ongoing support; communication; and intervention or classroom environment.

The guides are designed to help districts and schools gather baseline information and prioritize needs in developing an implementation plan; gather progress-monitoring information for continuous improvement of interventions; and evaluate the implementation of interventions. Each guide includes questions for discussion and templates for data collection and planning.

Proposed IRS Regulations may affect Wisconsin schools’ sick and vacation leave plan:
This information comes from Ken Zastrow who works for our partner National Insurance Services.

It is a common practice for Wisconsin schools to allow for unlimited or substantial accumulation of sick and vacation leave. Employers often pay out these large banks of leave when the employee separates from service or retires in the form of cash, Special Pay or HRA contributions, or some other type of equivalent benefit.

Recently, the IRS proposed long-awaited regulations under IRC 457(f) which may materially affect the structure of your sick and vacation leave plans. Under the proposed IRS regulations, sick and vacation leave plans with substantial or unlimited accumulation may not be considered a “bona fide” sick and vacation leave plan, rather it is proposed that the programs be considered a non-qualified deferred compensation plan.
Should the IRS finalize the regulations unaltered, many employees could be subject to taxation equal to the value of the unused leave despite not being able to access the value until retirement or separation of service.

Keep in mind that these regulations are not yet approved, but there are often changes to proposed regulations once the IRS has received feedback during the comment period and has held their public hearing on the matter. Official changes could be made effective as early as January 1, 2017. However, the

IRS typically provides advance notice regarding major changes, and an effective date of January 1, 2018, could be more likely. If any leave policies are subject to collective bargaining, the effective date would be
the earlier of 3 years from the effective date of the final regulations or the end of the bargained agreement in place at the time that the regulations are finalized.

The IRS will hold a public hearing on October 18, 2016, and will announce the final regulations after that date. WASBO will be monitoring the updates closely and will pass along any devel¬opments that may impact you.

For more details, read, “View from Groom: Long-Awaited Proposed Rules Provide Greater Clarity for Executive Compensation Plans of Exempt Organizations.”

About the author: Ken Zastrow is a licensed insurance agent (Health, Life, Series 6 and Series 63) as well as a registered financial representative with GWN Securities. He works with Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), 403(b) plans, Employee Benefit Trusts, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and 3121 Social Security Alternative Plans for National Insurance Services of Wisconsin.

Pocan Calls on Department of Education to Ensure Proper Oversight of Taxpayer funded Voucher Schools following GAO Report:
Report Finds Taxpayer Dollars Spent on Voucher Schools Has More than Doubled over the Last Five Years; Concerns Regarding School Standards at Schools Remain

By Mark Pocan – Sep 12th, 2016 01:53 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) called on the Department of Education to take the necessary steps to ensure proper oversight and encourage accountability of taxpayer-funded voucher schools following the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today. In December of 2014, Rep. Pocan along with Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) requested the GAO report after advocates for people with disabilities, including the ACLU and Disability Rights Wisconsin, raised concerns that Wisconsin’s voucher program, either tacitly or explicitly, allowed participating taxpayer-funded voucher schools to discriminate against students with disabilities in their admission policies.

“This GAO report confirms our deepest concerns about taxpayer-funded voucher schools,” said Rep. Pocan. “We already know voucher and many charter school programs lack the same levels of accountability and transparency as our public schools, but what this study proves is that many of these schools are also failing to meet the needs of special needs students and in many cases discriminating against them.”
“Republicans in Wisconsin and across the country are breaking our public education system by depleting funds from public schools and rerouting them to the comparatively few students in private schools,” continued Rep. Pocan. “Unless we reverse this trend, we will be left with an education system that favors taxpayer-funded voucher and charter schools, with low educational standards and discriminatory practices, at the expense of public schools.”
Full release

Director Events from the Past Two Weeks:
– September 12, Ed Issues Conference Call
– September 14, Legislative Council Meeting on School Data
– September 21, Meeting with Representative Mary Czaja
– September 21, Meeting with Representative Todd Novak
– September 22, Conference call with Gavin Luter – UW Campus Compact
– September 22, Battelle for Kids National Rural Collaboratives Webinar

Director Events for the Upcoming Week:
– September 26, Ed Issues Conference Call
– September 27, Meeting with Senator Janet Bewley
– September 27, Meeting with Senator Howard Marklein
– September 29, Meeting with Innovative Schools Network
– September 30, DPI ESSA Updates

Reminders:

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 through September 30 for schools wishing to bring a team of 5 for $400. We hope to see you in November! Conference Brochure

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.

WiRSA Elections:

The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA) will be conducting an election for Board of Director seats that expire in December. Each region is represented on the Board by one administrator, one board of education member, one teacher and one CESA representative. The four regions listed below each have one seat up for election: More information will be coming out in a separate email.

Region 1 – CESAs 1, 5, 6, 7, Administrator, incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Region 2 –CESAs 2, 3, 4, School Board Member, incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Region 3 –CESAs 10, 11, Teacher seat, incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Region 4 –CESAs 8, 9, 12, CESA representative, incumbent Ken Kasinski will be seeking re-election.

If you are interested in seeking election for the seat in your Region or would like to nominate someone, please email me with the following information: Name, Title, Region and Position, by September 30

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
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 Foundation Grants for Teachers

Have a great week.