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

Good Morning,
Please be sure to remind your counselors scholarships are due this Friday. In this addition, be sure to check out the information on SSTAR Lab and Star Student, the legislative update, news from the DOJ, a couple of great resources form the NREA and the four interesting research pieces on blended learning, depopulation, Pre-K Funding and Reading.

Welcome New Members
WiRSA is happy to welcome the following new members to the organization – Big Foot Union High School, Potosi School District, Peshtigo School District and Energy Performance Lighting. We look forward to working with you.

Scholarship Reminder
Please remind your counselors that the WiRSA Scholarship deadline is this Friday, February 15.
Please note that schools can nominate one student for the regular scholarship and one student for the teacher education scholarship. Schools must be in good membership standing to be eligible.

News from the UW-Madison Office for Financial Aid
As concerns over student debt, college affordability, and access to high education have garnered increasing attention since the recession of a decade ago, UW-Madison’s Nicholas Hillman says there has been a growing community of researchers examining issues related to financial aid.

To conduct more meaningful research in this field, UW-Madison is launching the Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) Lab. The lab is housed within the university’s Office of Student Financial Aid, located on the ninth floor of 333 East Campus Mall.

The SSTAR Lab’s mission is to use applied academic research to guide, support, and partner with practitioners whose work aims to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for current and future college students.
Read more

Star Student Program
Do you know a student deserving special recognition? The Governor and the Department of Public Instruction aims to recognize Wisconsin kids who take great strides in their everyday classroom activities.

Please share this site for the new Star Student Program and encourage everyone to spread the word regarding this program. It will run throughout the year. Teachers can make recommendations at any time.

Help Us Build A National Effort to Recruit and Retain Talent in Our Rural Schools and Communities – Gather Around A Survey of Rural Schools and Communities
Are you a rural teacher? Do you live or work in a rural community? If so, the NREA and WiRSA need your help to address the growing challenge of teacher shortages in our rural communities. Visit to learn more and take the survey.

Legislative Update for the Week of February 11
LFB Revenue Estimates Released

Feb 13 – Joint Legislative Council Executive Session – Two items on the agenda to be reviewed are the finings from the Dyslexia Study Committee and the Investment and Use of School Trust Funds Committee.
Feb 13 – Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade – The committee will hold a Public Hearing around three bills dealing with internships, technical education and workforce development grants and appropriations.
SB 15 – Relating to: new internship grants and making an appropriation.
SB 16 – Relating to: career and technical education incentive grants and making an appropriation.
SB 17 – Relating to: workforce training grants for seminars in high-demand fields to teach new skills and provide micro-credentials and making an appropriation.

National Level Legislative Update From NREA/CEF
No update this week.

From the DOJ
New Interactive Safety Resource Available!
The Office of School Safety would like to share this new resource from DOJ’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and DPI. More information about Interact! and Protecting Kids Online is available at the ICAC Task Force website.

From the NREA
The Rural School Leadership Academy is a fully sponsored, yearlong professional development program for aspiring school leaders working in rural schools. During this program, participants develop the knowledge and skills necessary for school leadership roles, while building a powerful network of aspiring school leaders in rural communities. Now in its seventh year and with a highly selective Education Innovation Research Grant from the United States Department of Education, the program has expanded to include both Teach For America alumni and non-alumni interested in pursuing rural school leadership.

USDA launches toolkit to help rural communities get broadband service
The e-Connectivity toolkit includes a list of 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment, allowing customers to see which ones are the best fit. The programs are organized by the type of customer (e.g., farmers, for-profit businesses, non-profits and government entities) and by what each program offers (such as technical assistance, training and workforce development, agriculture technology research, and permit reimbursement).

The toolkit also includes a user guide and examples of how some rural communities are using e-Connectivity resources to increase broadband services.

Montana’s ‘last resort’ for finding teachers is becoming increasingly common in rural schools Montana Teacher Shortage

Why It’s Time to Focus on Equity in Rural Schools

Why Blended Learning
Most teachers in developed countries have more and more options for using computers to provide instruction.

But without a clear reason for making that shift, it’s unlikely to hit its mark. All too often, using tech in schools does little good or even becomes a distraction.

This 12-page PDF explains why blended learning can be a positive force for improving schools. Here’s the link:
Why Schools Implement Blended Learning.pdf

Policy Brief: Rural Depopulation in a Rapidly Urbanizing America
This brief examines demographic trends in rural America, a region often overlooked in a nation dominated by urban interests. Yet, 46 million people live in rural areas that encompass 72 percent of the land area of the United States. “Rural America” is a simple term that describes a remarkably diverse collection of people and places. It encompasses vast agricultural regions that are among the most productive in the world; sprawling exurban areas just beyond the urban fringe; successful ultra-modern industrial, energy, and warehousing complexes strung along rural interstates; regions where coal, ore, oil, gas, and timber are extracted, processed, and shipped; struggling factory towns facing intense global competition; and fast-growing recreational areas situated near scenic mountains and lakes.


• Nearly 35 percent of rural counties are experiencing protracted and significant population loss.
• Depopulation is the result of chronic rural outmigration, mostly by young adults, which contributes to fewer births. As the sizeable older population that did not migrate ages in place, the mortality rate rises.
• Rural depopulation is not universal. Some rural areas have experienced significant population growth for decades.

Trends in Pre-K Education Funding in 2017-18
This Policy Brief begins by reviewing the educational and societal impacts of quality pre-K programs before revealing legislative changes to state pre-K funding in 2017-18.

Reading Research from our new Business Partner Energy Performance Lighting
Reading Speed and Accuracy are Affected by Light Level and Lamp Spectrum. See attached report.

2019 Educators Rising Summit – March 20
The Educators Rising planning committee is excited to announce the date for the 2019 Competition and Summit.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
9:15am-2:15pm — Check-in begins at 8:45am
UW Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union
COST: $15.00 per person (Lunch included.)

Attached is a flyer outlining the keynote speaker, breakout sessions, and competition topics, as well as the registration form which is due February 22. We encourage you to share this information with your students, colleagues and partner school districts.

Asthma Walkthrough Program
Approximately 100,000 children in Wisconsin are affected by asthma. Research has shown that exposure to indoor air pollutants, such as dust and dust mites, strong odors, mold, pests and allergens, can all potentially worsen asthma symptoms. These symptoms can be reduced by modifying the indoor environment. The goal of the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition (WAC) school/child care walkthrough program is to decrease asthma symptoms in children by reducing exposure to environmental asthma triggers found within the child care setting. This program provides asthma education resources, identifies triggers within school and child care settings that may worsen asthma, provides low- or no-cost recommendations to eliminate or reduce asthma triggers, and increases staff knowledge on preventing and managing asthma. Addressing asthma triggers reduces absenteeism, while creating an improved learning environment for kids and staff. The program is available at no cost to schools and child care centers statewide and is completely nonpunitive. For more information and to schedule a walkthrough, please contact Brittany Farrell (414-337-4570; at the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin.

Director Events from Last Week
February 4 – Ed Issues Conference Call
February 4 – An agenda for higher education reform: Webinar
February 6 – RERIC Meeting and Symposium
February 7 – Conference call with MREA Director
February 8 – CESA 9 PAC
February 8 – Interview with Channel

Director Events for Upcoming Week
February 11 – Ed Issues Conference Call
February 11 – WPEN Meeting
February 13 – Legislative hearings
February 15 – Education Academy for Legislators planning meeting

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders
• 2019 WiRSA Conference, Save the Date, October 28-29, Glacier Canyon in Wisconsin Dells.
2019 WiRSA Scholarship Information


Thank you Sponsors!
Alliant Energy, CESA Foundation, Ehlers, Jostens, McKinstry,
Mid-State Technical College, National Insurance Services, Nexus Solutions,
The Insurance Center, TRICORE Insurance, UW Colleges Online,
WEA Member Benefits and Wisconsin Farmers Union