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The Community’s public school is the greatest discovery, and the cornerstone of our democratic society – Horace Mann

Good Morning,
I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend and one last chance to re-charge before the school year is in full swing. In this addition please take time to review the legislative alert regarding special education and the information on the new proposed education budget. Please note that the deadline for the Rural Awards and Elections of September 15 is drawing near.

You will be receiving a membership survey within the next week. The feedback you provide will be very helpful to WiRSA moving forward.

Legislative Alert Reminder – Special Needs Scholarship and Special Education Open Enrollment
A significant change to the way dollars are transferred for open enrollment of special education pupils and the aid deduction for special needs voucher pupils are calculated is scheduled for discussion and a possible vote by the JFC tomorrow, Tuesday (Sept. 5). I have not seen any new proposed language besides what was originally in the Assembly version of the budget bill below. Please contact the members of the JFC and your local legislators to express your concerns – Senator Darling (Co-Chair), Representative Nygren (Co-Chair), Representative Kooyenga (Vice-Chair), Senator Olsen (Vice-Chair), Senator Harsdorf, Senator Marklein, Senator Tiffany, Senator Vukmir, Senator L. Taylor, Senator Erpenbach, Representative Loudenbeck, Representative Felzkowski, Representative Born, Representative Rohrkaste, Representative Hintz and Representative Shankland

Special Needs Scholarship Program (Vouchers)
Change the payment amount for a pupil attending a private school under the Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP), from current law set amount ($12,000 in FY17), to an amount that reflects actual costs incurred by the private school to implement the child’s most recent IEP or services plan. [We assume this would begin in 2018-19, but this is not specified.]

The proposal details specific responsibilities of the school district in preparing an itemized cost statement, and the Department’s responsibilities in making a determination of actual costs (based on cost data submitted by the private school) and reconciling the aid reduction to the pupil’s resident school district.

Open Enrollment – Special Education Pupils
Similar to provisions for SNSP, change the payment amount for a pupil who has an IEP and who is open enrolled to a non-resident school district, from current law set amount ($12,000 in FY17), to an amount that reflects actual costs incurred by the nonresident school district to implement the child’s most recent IEP. [The memo again does specify that this would begin in 2018-19, but we assume it would.]

The proposal details specific responsibilities of both the resident and nonresident school district in preparing an itemized cost statement, and the Department’s responsibilities in making a determination of
actual costs (based on cost data submitted by the nonresident school district) and reconciling the aid reduction to the pupil’s resident school district.

JFC Update
Listed below are the areas where I feel rural schools made some gains but also lost out. The disconcerting piece is that about $18 million was removed from rural Sparsity Aid and $30 million was added to the School Parental Choice Program.

Another concern to be aware of is this motion will not get to the floor for a full vote until September 14th and by the time it is signed by the Governor it could be late September. Based on the information I shared with you last week from DPI this late date will impact aid payments.

I continue to review the motion and will keep you posted as the process moves forward. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

Increase in Low Revenue Limits – #2 in the motion
Increase of per pupil aid of $200/$204 – #4 in the motion
High Cost Transportation – #7 in the motion
Special Education – #8,9,10 in the motion
Mental Health – #14 in the motion
Shared Services Aid Program -#17 in the motion
Whole Grade Sharing Aid Program-#18 in the motion
Rural Teacher Talent Pilot Program – #20 in motion

One-year moratorium in 2018 on Energy Efficient Measures – #1 in the motion
Scheduling of school referendum to regularly scheduled election days with odd year option of 2nd Tues. in November – #3 in the motion
Sparsity Aid – Removed Governors language and not adding the second tier to include districts up to 1000 students – # 6 in the motion
Increases in Parental Choice Program – #22 and #25
Open Enrollment aid transfer – #34 in the motion

Legislative Update for the Week of Sept. 4
Sept. 5 – Joint Finance Committee Executive Session at 1:30 – Special Needs Voucher and Special Education Open Enrollment.
Sept. 7 – Assembly Education Committee
Assembly Bill 159
Relating to: policies regulating the use of electronic smoking devices on school district property.
Assembly Bill 221
Relating to: creating a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction.
Assembly Bill 215
Relating to: education about nutrition.
Assembly Bill 477
Relating to: supplemental aid for school districts with a large area.
Assembly Bill 488 – Link not available
Relating to access to pupil assessments that are required to be administered by school boards, operators of independent charter schools, and private schools participating in a parental choice program and repealing rules related to accessing pupil assessments.

Congratulations to Member Schools on 21st Century Learning Center Grants
Congratulations to Hillsboro, Merrill, Necedah and Wauzeka-Steuben in securing the 21st Century Learning Center Grants for their communities.

Rural School Awards Deadline of Sept. 15th
The WiRSA Rural Awards are a great way to recognize the great people you have in your district for the
outstanding things that they do for your school district and rural education. Now is a great time to start thinking about nominees for the 2017 WiRSA Rural Awards. Deadline is Sept. 15th. Click here for more information.

WiRSA Conference Oct. 30-31
2017 WIRSA Brochure, Rural Schools – The Heart and Soul of Wisconsin. We again have strong General Session speakers including Dr. Katherine Cramer and Leroy Butler, along with 32 different break-out sessions to appeal to administrators, board members and teachers. Please join us Oct. 30-31 at the Glacier Canyon Lodge in Wisconsin Dells.

WiRSA Election Nominations and Elector Update/ Sept.15th Deadline

The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA) will be conducting an election for Board of Director seats that expire this 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, with Regions 1 and 4 each having an additional seat:

Region 1 – CESAs 1, 5, 6, 7

  • Teacher. Incumbent Leah Luke is seeking re-election.
  • Administrator. Reopened to fill the remainder of the term vacated by Richard Waski, due to a change in school district and region.

Region 2 – CESAs 2, 3, 4

  • CESA. Incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Region 3 – CESAs 10, 11

  • District Administrator. Incumbent Bob Houts is seeking re-election.

Region 4 – CESAs 8, 9, 12

  • Board of Education. Incumbent is not seeking re-election.
  • Teacher. Still vacant and looking for nominations.

If you are interested in seeking election for the seat in your Region or would like to nominate someone, please complete the information below and return to me by September 15th:

  • Name of Nominee
  • Title
  • Region and position


Each member school district is entitled to three votes in this election. In accordance with WiRSA Bylaws, certified electors include one administrator, one board of education member and one teacher. With this email, we are also beginning the process of gathering the names and emails of the certified electors for each member district. Please complete the information below and return via email by September 15th:

  • School District
  • Administrator Name and Email
  • Board of Education Name and Email
  • Teacher Name and Email –

Director Events from Last Week
August 28, Meeting with Rep. Felzkowski on budget proposals-Whole Grade Sharing and Shared Services.
August 28, Ed Issues Call
August 28, JFC Hearing on State Budget
August 31, Meeting with Catherine Reiland from Wisconsin Idea
August 31, UW Grand Challenges Grant Review

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
Sept. 5, JFC Hearing
Sept. 7, Assembly Education Hearing
Sept. 7, Rep. Thiesfeldt

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders
WiRSA Scholarships
2017 WiRSA Rural Awards
2017 WiRSA Conference – Oct. 30-31 Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells
ESEA Information and more here.

Have A Great Week!