Thank you to our Sponsors!

CESA 10 Facilities Management Services, CESA Foundation, Ehlers, Forecast5, Jostens, M3 Insurance, National Insurance Services, Nexus Solutions, PMA, Siemens, UW Colleges Online, UW-Oshkosh, WEA Members Benefits, Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative and Wisconsin Farmers Union

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

Good Morning,
Please be sure to take a close look at this week’s highlights. Information on AB 693 the Teacher Protection Bill, The Blue Ribbon Commission update, two AASA items from the NREA, REL Documentary on teacher preparation and the Force for Positive Change event. I encourage those of you in the La Crosse region to attend the Blue Ribbon Commission meeting next week and share your thoughts and concerns on funding with the Commission. If they don’t hear from us, they think everything is ok.

Welcome to WiRSA, Ladysmith School District. We look forward to working with you.

WiRSA Rural Awards
The WiRSA office is now taking applications for the 2018 WiRSA Rural Awards. The WiRSA Rural Awards are a way to recognize the great people you have in your district and community for the outstanding things that they do for your school and rural education. The deadline for nominations is September 14. Click here for more information.

Legislative Update for the Week of February 26
AB 693 – The Teacher Protection Bill passed out of committee out of committee on February 20th, after two amendments 6-3 along party lines. The bill was then was immediately voted on by the whole assembly on February 22 and passed, Ayes 58, Noes 36 (see how they voted). This vote was disconcerting when you look at the number of organizations that opposed this bill because of many concerns with the language and legal challenges that could rise from some of the provisions in the bill. (see list)

Prior to this passage the Senate had shown little interest in this bill, but late last week Senator Craig introduced companion SB 821. This bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. WiRSA continues to oppose the bill on the Senate side based on the same concerns with the Assembly proposal. I encourage you to talk with your Senator with your concerns.

No Senate Education Committee meeting was scheduled at the time of this publication.

Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding
The next meeting of the School Funding Commission will be held Monday, March 5th at 1:30 PM in La Crosse at the North Woods International School N2541 Sablewood Rd. The Commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the following: Sparta Public School District, Onalaska School District, and CESA 4. Following the presentations, members of the public are invited to speak and share their thoughts. To ensure all of those in attendance can be heard, public testimony will be limited to 5 minutes. Hearing will conclude at 6:00 p.m.

The second March hearing will be held on Monday, March 26th in De Pere at Foth, 2121 Innovation Court from 2:00–6:00. The Blue Ribbon Commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the following: Chamber of Commerce- Partners in Education, and CESA 7.

Following the presentations, members of the public are invited to speak and share their thoughts. To ensure all of those in attendance can be heard, public testimony will be limited to 5 minutes.

Moving forward, the Commission will hold public hearings from 2:00-6:00 PM to ensure members of the public can attend the hearing after regular business hours. A press release will be coming out shortly with the April and May hearing locations. There will be two public hearings each month from March to May and the last public hearing will be held in Madison in June.

Testimony Tips for future hearings:
1) We strongly encourage Business Mangers, Bookkeepers and/or other key financial personnel to present as they work with this daily.
2) Key areas to build testimony around
a) School districts lack a predictable, sustainable funding mechanism which impacts programming for students and the ability to attract and retain quality educators in our districts.
b) School choice funding is impacting our property taxpayers and there is a lack of transparency of where their tax dollars are being allocated.
c) The ever-changing role of the traditional community public school and the responsibilities and expenses associated with the mandates imposed upon our districts. a) Unfunded Mandates: Although well meaning, new programs are often mandated by the state.
d) Informative links
Blue Ribbon Commission website
Blue Ribbon Commission members
Blue Ribbon Commission mission and directive
Legislative Fiscal Bureau school finance documents

From the DPI
Charter Sub Grant Deadline is March 9th
Applications for the 2018-19 Wisconsin Charter Schools Program sub grant competition are now available.

The Wisconsin Charter Schools Program is also seeking peer reviewers for this competition. More information regarding the peer review process is also available here.
Application Deadline is 4:30 pm, March 9 2018.

Please feel free to contact Latoya if you have any questions regarding this information. Email:

State’s AP Participation and Performance Improve
More students took more tests with better results. This is how Wisconsin’s 2017 graduates participated and performed in the Advanced Placement (AP) program according to the “AP Cohort Data Report: Graduating Class of 2017” from the College Board.

Additional information is available in the attached news item or on the Department of Public Instruction newsroom website.

From the NREA
NREA Foundation Essay Contest allows contestants to participate in three divisions: elementary, middle/junior high, and high school. Grades 3-8 may participate in a written essay contest using the provided prompt and rubric. Grades 9-12 may participate in a video essay contest using the provided prompt and rubric. The winner in the elementary division receives $250. The runner-up will receive $100. The winners in the middle/junior high and high school divisions receive $400. The runners-up receive a $200 prize.

AASA Webinar on 529 Accounts: AASA is doing a free webinar on March 8th at 2 pm ET on the changes made to the 529 savings accounts provisions in the GOP tax bill. The webinar is titled: 529 Accounts Are The New Frontier for Private School Choice: What do YOU need to know? You can register for the webinar here.

AASA’s Economic Impact Survey: Last week, AASA released Ten Years Later: How Funding Pressures Continue to Impact Our Nation’s Schools. This survey is part of AASA’s Economic Impact Survey Series, which helped detail the impact of the recession on the nation’s schools. This latest iteration comes as states and schools mark 10 years since the start of the recession, and report varied levels of recovery. As we reviewed and responded to the President’s proposed FY19 budget, his announced infrastructure plan, the ongoing negotiations around FY18 appropriations and how all three impact our nation’s schools, some key findings from the survey jump out:

• Nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of respondents described their school district as inadequately funded, compared to 24.5% reporting adequately funded and 2.8% reporting surplus. When compared to earlier surveys, this is down from 83% in the fall of 2015 and 81% in March of 2012, but still above the 67% reported in October 2008.
• When asked to identify the various program and service cuts their district had considered and/or implemented in the response to budget pressures, the top five items implemented as cuts in the last five years were reducing staff level (non-instructional) hiring (65.5%); deferring maintenance (65.4%); eliminating non-essential travel (65.2%); joining bulk purchasing groups/co-ops (63.8%); and reducing consumable supplies (62%).
• IDEA Shortfall: When asked what percentage of their local budget is being used to cover federal mandates related to special education, just 10% of respondents indicated that it was less than 10% of total spending. 48.2% of respondents indicated they used 10-20% of total spending to cover the federal IDEA shortfall, compared to 25.6% reporting 20-30%; and 8.5% reporting they used 30-40%.

Call for Proposals for the NREA Convention and Research Symposium:
The convention will be held OCTOBER 11–13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. If you have a great rural program to share with others I encourage you to submit a proposal.

This annual event is designed to create an environment for collaboration and innovation with a diverse community—national experts, K–12 and higher education practitioners, leading researchers, policymakers, and philanthropic leaders—to learn and share ideas around the topics at the forefront of rural education and to ensure 21st century learning is a reality for all rural students. Ultimately, we want to help unite and inspire people to action.

Submit your proposal here.

From REL Midwest
Documentary on Teacher Preparation
This 30-minute public television program highlights evidence-based best practices for new teacher preparation and support and features three novice teachers in Metro Detroit whose experiences highlight the importance of quality preparation, clinical experience, and ongoing mentorship.

Force for Positive Change event: March 22
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Alumni Memorial Union, Ballroom 1442 W Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233

Registration is open! Secure your seat for a day of engaging speakers, sessions and awards for social entrepreneurship. Speakers include representatives from American Family Insurance, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters, the Ashoka Foundation, Incourage, social enterprises of all kinds, Marquette University

President Michael Lovell and Wisconsin philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge.

Director Events from Week of January 22
Feb 19 – Ed Issues Weekly Call
Feb 20 – AB 693 Hearing
Feb 21 – Farmers Union Lobby Day
Feb 22 – Meeting with UW Admissions and Financial Aid
Feb 22 – WiRSA Conference planning meeting
Feb 23 – Meeting UW Grad student working on referendum research

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
Feb 26 – Ed Issues Weekly Call
Feb 27 – RCN Meeting
Feb 28 – Grand Challenges meeting at UW
Mar 1 – Teacher Speak-out meeting
Mar 2 – CESA 8

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders
• WiRSA Rural Awards – Click here for more information
WiRSA Scholarships
Clif Bar Family Foundation Grants
ESEA Information
DPI Budget Summary
Licensure Webinar
NREA in Denver Colorado October 11-13
2018 WiRSA Conference, October 29-30, Glacier Canyon in Wisconsin Dells