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

Good Morning,

I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing 4th of July. This is a quick reminder that Conference registration is open and nominations for our Rural Awards are being accepted (See below).  Also, please take time to look at the NREAC Update and Department of Education Grants. Good information.

WiRSA “Diversity in Rural Schools” Conference Registration is Open

The 2019 WiRSA Conference will be held again this year at the Glacier Canyon Lodge Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells October 28-29.  Register here.   More details here..

 WiRSA Rural Awards – New Category added for Principals
WiRSA is now taking applications for the 2019 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 13.  Click here for more information.

WiRSA Conference Vendor Booth / Sponsorship Registration is Open (Booths are filling fast)

Information for securing one of the 26 vendor booths for the 2019 WiRSA Conference is now available. Please see attached flyer for more details. Priority will be given to our Business Partners, formerly known as Associate Members, then vendors from last year, followed by new requests.

We will be using a new registration process this year, so please read all information carefully. Vendor/Sponsor Registration Form.

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

 Legislative Update for the Week of July 8
July 11Assembly Education Committee at 9:30 in Room 417 North

Executive Session on AB 223 Relating to: supplemental state aid for consolidated school districts and

making an appropriation. WiRSA opposes this bill

Public Hearing on AB 232 – Relating to: teacher preparatory programs and granting rulemaking authority.

National Level Legislative Update From NREAC/CEF
NREAC Newsletter 


  • Major E-Rate Initiative This Summer: A recent proposal from the Federal Communications Commission – under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai (Republican) – would place limits on the amount of money the E-Rate program could make available to support school and library efforts to improve internet access. Unlike previous proposals we have responded to at the FCC, which have been narrow in scope and focused on E-Rate – this latest proposal targets the broader umbrella program–the Universal Service Fund (USF) – that includes three other sister programs (Rural Health Care, the Connect America Fund and Lifeline).  Specifically, the proposal would pair E-Rate with Rural Healthcare under a single cap. Although E-Rate is currently undersubscribed, school and library demand will only continue to grow, and even if these connectivity prices keep falling, the reality of increasing demand and skyrocketing costs with rural health care create a scenario where one USF program is pitted against another, with rural schools competing with rural health care for connectivity needs. In response to the proposal, AASA partnered with our EdLiNC coalition to request an extension on the filing deadline. Moving forward, know that this is the top advocacy priority for the summer and that we will be utilizing a full member press to ensure the FCC hears loud and clear about the importance of the E-Rate program. Full details on the blog.
  • E-Rate: A Texas Case: In late June, a handful of education service center administrators from Texas was in town to meet with staff in three different offices at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to a petition for rulemaking related to E-Rate. This is a narrow lane of advocacy for a Texas-specific issue for now but could have broader federal implications. The meetings were focused on highlighting how the E-Rate applications under question were fully compliant with E-Rate and state/local procurement requirements, were responding to policy incentives built into the 2014 modernization, built on the long-standing premise of competition and market forces and pricing, and that the petitioners (providers) making the motion are looking to use federal policy as a Band-Aid, a remedy for them not receiving federal funds for an RFP to which they did not respond/receive a bid.
  • We Need E-Rate Anecdotes: As part of our push to respond to the rule that could cap E-Rate funding (referenced above) we are working to collect anecdotes and stories of how E-Rate is being used in schools, what E-Rate means to your district’s connectivity, and what the proposed changes would mean to your district. We have created a google form, with a few guiding questions. Please take a moment to help us collect meaningful stories that we can use both on the hill and with the FCC. If we use your answer/response, we will ONLY identify the state of origin, not district or supt name. Share your stories today!

Child Nutrition Reauthorization:

  • As you know, Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) – which directly impacts the School Lunch and Breakfast programs – is set for renewal this year. Intel from Capitol Hill suggests that the Senate will most likely be the first chamber to release bill text, mainly due to Chairman Roberts’ impending retirement in 2020.
  • The House CNR proposal is still in its infancy as we all await Sen. Roberts to make the first move. However, Chairman Scott has stated that “All else equal,” he’d like to get CNR done this year. Our primary concern on the House side is the rate of bills aimed at tackling School Meal Debt, which incorrectly applies a one-size-fits all approach to a myriad of state policies on this issue. To fight against the previously mentioned proposals from the House and Senate that would hurt our members, AASA and ASBO International have issued a letter to House and Senate leadership that set the following priorities for this year’s CNR.
  1. Return to a Five-Year Administrative Review Cycle, which would limit excessive reporting mandated under the shorter three-year Administrative Review (AR) cycle;
  2. Modify the Smart Snacks in Schools Rule to ensure all foods sold a la carte and in vending machines meet school nutrition standards;
  3. Increase USDA Foods (Commodities) Support for the School Breakfast Program to cover an expected 27-cents hike in price for school breakfast meals;
  4. Oppose any effort to Block Grant the School Meals Programs

Higher Education Act:

  • The Higher Education Act (HEA) is again up for reauthorization this year. You’ll recall that the House Education Committee—under the leadership of former Chairwoman Foxx—attempted to pass the partisan PROSPER Act last year. This year, all eyes are on the other side of Capitol Hill, where Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are hard at work negotiating a bipartisan bill, laying out their vision for the nation’s higher education system. Bill text for HEA was set to drop in April. However, negotiations over Title IX (e.g., sexual assault reporting), Title II (e.g., Public Service Loan Forgiveness [PSLF], Teacher Quality Partnership and TEACH grants), and Title IV programs (e.g., student financial aid programs) have thus far delayed the reauthorization process. To further complicate HEA reauthorization in the Senate, Chairman Alexander has been out for the past month for knee surgery, so the bottom line is its looking less likely that we will see text for the bipartisan act until shortly before the August recess, if at all. That said, it’s far too early to discount that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee leadership won’t get the job done, especially since Chairman Alexander wants one more win before his impending retirement in 2020.
  • On the House side, now under Democratic leadership, it’s also unclear whether Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Foxx will come to a bipartisan agreement on HEA.
  • If the worst-case scenario does happen and the Senate fails to produce bipartisan legislation or passes a narrow HEA that only focuses on a few titles, Chairman Scott has stated that it’s unlikely he’ll take up the issue.


  • FY20 Appropriations: The House passed its proposal for LHHS funding for FY20, which includes funding for USED. It is a robust package, likely too rich for either the Senate or the President to support, but is an important step forward in the process, a proposal to respond to and around which House and Senate leaders may be able to ID an overall funding level for FY20 that they CAN support. AASA sent a letter of support for the bill to the Committee for Education. The bill provides just under $76b in funding to USED, an increase of nearly $4.5 b over FY19, and $12 b above the President’s proposed funding levels. See related EdWeek article.
  • AASA Supports Amendment to Financial Services Appropriations Bill Prohibiting FCC From Implementing Universal Service Fund NPRM: In late June, AASA sent a letter to the full House as it prepared to vote on the broader financial services appropriations bill, expressing our support for an amendment that would prohibit the FCC from implementing its proposed rule for the Universal Service Fund (details on that proposal are on the blog). The amendment would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using federal funds to advance a proposed rule that would harm beneficiaries of the E-Rate program.

Regulations and Guidance:

  • USED Finalized Supplement, Not Supplant Guidance: Last month, USED Released its final non-binding guidance for the ‘supplement, not supplant’ provisions of ESSA Title I. This is in follow up to the proposal they released earlier this year (details on the blog) and represents a much lighter touch than the prescriptive regulations proposed by the Obama administration. Related story in EdWeek
  • IRS Releases Final Regulation on Tuition Tax Credit Loophole: Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its final regulations cracking down on a tax shelter long favored by private and religious K-12 schools, and more recently adopted by some “blue state” lawmakers in the wake of the 2017 Trump tax cut. The regulations come more than a year after the IRS first announced the launch of this project and about nine months after it unveiled an initial draft. Overall, the regulations are a big improvement but fall short of ending the tax shelter entirely for wealthy investors. The IRS has indicated that additional guidance will be needed to deal with a variety of lingering issues, though it remains to be seen what that guidance will entail. At issue are state and local tax credits for taxpayers who make so-called “charitable donations” to specific causes cherry-picked by elected officials, including private K-12 schooling. Full details on the blog.

From US Department of Education
On July 1, the Rural Education Achievement Program awarded over $90 million in formula funding to State educational agencies (SEAs) for the 2019-20 school year through the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program. If you believe your school district is eligible to receive funds under the RLIS program you can check school district eligibility status here. If eligible, contact your SEA RLIS coordinator for more information on how to apply for RLIS funds. This Federal grant program is designed specifically for rural school districts that lack the personnel and resources to compete effectively for Federal grants.

The School Climate Transformation Grant Program – Local Educational Agency Grants provides competitive grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for, and technical assistance to, schools implementing a multi-tiered system of support, for improving school climate. This application has a priority for LEAs that are rural or serve a Tribal community. A technical assistance webinar is scheduled for July 8 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The application deadline is July 22.

Project Prevent provides grants to LEAs to increase their capacity to help schools in communities with pervasive violence to better address the needs of affected students and to break the cycle of violence in those communities. A technical assistance webinar is scheduled for July 8 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. The application deadline is July 15.

The American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services program provides vocational rehabilitation services, including culturally appropriate services, to American Indians with disabilities who reside on or near Federal or State reservations. Applications may be made only by Indian Tribes (and consortia of those Indian Tribes) located on Federal and State reservations. The application deadline is July 29.

The Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Career and Technical Institutions Program provides grants to Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Career and Technical Institutions that do not receive Federal support under certain other programs for Career and Technical Education programs for Indian students. The application deadline is July 25.

The State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP): Tribal Education Agency Development Discretionary Grant Program is designed to promote Tribal self-determination in education; improve the academic achievement of Indian children and youth; and promote the coordination and collaboration of Tribal educational agencies with SEAs and LEAs to meet the unique education and culturally related academic needs of Indian students. The application deadline is August 12.

The Grants to Charter School Developers for the Opening of New Charter Schools and for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program provides funds to charter school developers on a competitive basis to enable them to open new charter schools or replicate or expand high-quality charter schools. Eligibility for a grant under this competition is limited to charter school developers in States that do not currently have a CSP State Entity grant. This application contains a rural priority. The application deadline is August 2.

The Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program provides competitive grants to support and demonstrate innovative partnerships to train school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools and LEAs. LEAs that meet the eligibility requirements for the Small, Rural School Achievement program or the RLIS program are among those that qualify as high-need LEAs. A technical assistance webinar is scheduled for July 8 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The application deadline is August 15.

From the DOJ
No update this week

From the NREA
No update this week

 The 111th Rural Research and Conference Symposium hosted by NREA & BFK.
The #RuralEdForum brings together rural #edleaders from across the country to advance #21stcenturylearning. Join our community of bold, courageous educators on Oct. 24–26 in Louisville, KY! Register today to save.

From Midwest REL
The Power of Centering Equity in Social and Emotional Learning
Is social and emotional learning (SEL) serving all students equitably? A recent Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest webinar, “Supporting Equity and Social Emotional Learning,” explored the complex interrelationship between equity and SEL and showcased equity-based practices that can help promote students’ social and emotional development.

Director Events from Last Week
July 1 – Weekly Stakeholder Meeting

July 2 – Monthly NREAC Conference call

July 4-5 – WiRSA Office closed

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
July 8 – Weekly Stakeholder Meeting

July 10 – Quarterly WiRSA Board of Director Meeting – (See attached agenda)

July 11-12 – Redefining Ready Workshop

Resources and Grant/Scholarship Reminders

  • Save the Date: 2019 WiRSA Conference, October 28-29, Glacier Canyon in Wisconsin Dells.


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