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

Good Morning,
I hope you had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend with family and friends. Important mentions in this edition:

• WECAN meeting
• WiRSA Renewal Invoices
• HR 5199 Update under Legislative Update
• Three great articles from the NREA
• Midwest REL Early Education links

WECAN Meeting Update
I want to thank you for your input and concerns prior to my meeting last week with WASPA and WECAN. The meeting went well and both parties listened to our concerns and possible solutions. They have agreed to take the concerns back to their Boards for discussion. One takeaway from the meeting is that WECAN is running with minimal personnel to continue to keep cost down and to provide a quality product. I will keep you posted as I get feedback following their meetings.

2018-19 WiRSA Membership Invoices in July
Please note that due to a software change over at CESA 5, membership renewal invoices will be mailed out in early July instead of June this year. If you have any concerns or questions regarding this delay, please feel free to contact me.

WiRSA Conference Call for Proposals
The WiRSA Conference Planning Committee is looking for proposals sharing the great programs/solutions that are occurring in our rural school districts. The conference theme is Rural Schools Matter.

To submit a proposal, please go to the following link.

Proposals are due June 22. District proposals will receive top priority, followed by district/vendor proposals and vendor alone proposals.

WiRSA Rural Awards
WiRSA 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 May 29
No sessions scheduled at the time of this publication.

From NREAC/AASA – HR5199 Update
Earlier this week, the House rejected consideration of an amendment by Rep. Banks (R-IL) that would have started a new federal program to voucherize funding for Impact Aid. This is a major win for AASA and our allies given that close to 70 Republicans co-sponsored the legislation. This bill also came up when Secretary DeVos testified before the House Education Committee on Tuesday. DeVos openly stated that the administration is opposed to using funds from Impact Aid to fund private school vouchers. However, in her remarks she indicated that they would be open to supporting a voucher program that used a different federal funding stream. Thus, we must prepare for another fight to create a military student voucher program using yet another unspecified federal fund.

The Senate Armed Services Committee rejected consideration of two voucher amendments offered by Sen. Sasse (R-NE) to create voucher programs for military-connected students. However, Sen. Sasse could still attempt to offer his amendment on the floor of the Senate, although it is not likely to receive 60 votes.

Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding Dates
The next meeting of the School Funding Commission will be Monday, June 4th in Madison. Time and Location TBD

This may be the last chance to be heard so, I encourage you to attend this meeting or submit written testimony.

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) Removal of enrollment from the Sparsity Aid Formula (some legislators have expressed interest in doing this)
c) School choice funding is impacting our property taxpayers and there is a lack of transparency of where their tax dollars are being allocated.
d) Funding for school mental health.
e) Increase to Special Education categorical appropriation.
f) The ever-changing role of the traditional community public school and the responsibilities and expenses associated with the mandates imposed upon our districts.
g) Unfunded Mandates: Although well meaning, new programs are often mandated by the state.
Informative links

Blue Ribbon Commission website
Blue Ribbon Commission members
Blue Ribbon Commission mission and directive
Legislative Fiscal Bureau school finance documents

From the NREA
Register Now to Reserve Your Spot today for the 110th NREA Convention and Research Symposium. October 11–13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado
If you’re looking to engage with national experts, leading researchers, K–12 and higher education practitioners, policymakers, and philanthropic leaders to advance conversations and ideas around innovative rural leadership, practice, research, and policy, this is THE event for you! If you share our passion for advancing rural education, we hope you will join us and help unite and inspire people to action! Convention and Research

‘I Didn’t Really Have a Choice.’ Meet the Teachers Quitting Their Jobs Due to Low Pay and Dwindling Benefits, By Jennifer Calfas

Taking drastic steps to improve teacher recruitmentBrian Stack

SERVING RURAL STUDENTS, May 01, 2018 | By Andrew Crain

From Midwest REL (Early Education)
Midwest Early Childhood Education Research Alliance:

Helping kindergarten teachers understand their students and tailor instruction
Assessing kindergarten children’s knowledge and skills
Let’s talk about an important benefit of the research alliance structure
Coordinating early childhood state data
Resource roundup: Early childhood education

Director Events from Last Week
May 21 – Blue Ribbon Commission on Funding in Turtle Lake
May 22 – CESA 3 Summer Inst. Meeting
May 22 – RCN Monthly Call
May 23 – Meeting with WECAN on member concerns
May 23 – Present WiRSA Scholarship at Fort Atkinson HS
May 24 – CESA Conference

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
May 29 – Ed Issues call
May 31 – Meeting with UW System

WiRSA – WREA Job Connection Reminder
WREA and WiRSA have joined forces to connect school districts with hard to fill partial positions and long-term substitute positions with retired educators looking to get back into the workforce part time to share their knowledge and love of education with the students of rural Wisconsin. website

District Administrators and or HR personnel can complete the form below to post a partial position or long-term substitute position for posting on the WREA website. There is no cost for the posting, this is a service of WREA and WiRSA.

Please send or email completed form to Diane Wilcenski, WREA Executive Director, 6405 Century Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562 or email Diane at
WREA and WiRSA Job Connection Fillable Form

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders
• WiRSA Rural Awards – Click here for more information
WiRSA Scholarships
ESEA Information
Licensure Webinar
• NREA Conference in Denver, Colorado– October 11-13
2018 WiRSA Conference, RURAL SCHOOLS MATTER, October 29-30, Glacier Canyon in Wisconsin Dells.

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