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

Good Morning,
I hope the end of the year went well for everyone and you can now take some time to relax a little and enjoy the summer. A reminder to all that the deadline for conference proposals is this Friday June 21. I encourage you to nominate staff and community members for our Rural awards. See information below. I also ask you to keep the pressure on your legislators to do what is right and increase the educational budget, especially in Special Education. They plan to vote late this week or early next week on the budget.

WPT Here and Now – Noon Wednesday Webcast
Last Wednesday I was interviewed on the Noon Wednesday Webcast regarding school closures and the budget. Here is a link.

WiRSA Conference call for proposals now open (Deadline This Friday)
The conference planning committee is now accepting proposals to present at the annual conference October 28-29 at the Glacier Canyon Lodge Conference Center. We are looking for presentations that promote the great programs being offered by our rural schools. This year’s theme is around diversity. To submit a proposal, complete the proposal form by June 21. (See attached flyer to post.)

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.

Legislative Update for the Week of June 17
No hearings scheduled this week on education. Please note that the Biennial Budget is scheduled to go to the floor late this week or early next week.

National Level Legislative Update From NREAC/CEF
Policy Intelligence and Education News
House omnibus appropriations updates – House leaders decided to remove the Legislative Branch bill from the package of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills the House will debate this week due to disagreement about whether to allow Members of Congress to have a cost of living adjustment in their pay. The Rules Committee met last night and made in order 77 amendments to the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Division A of the omnibus). The amendments are listed in the Rules Committee Report starting on pages 7-14 of the pdf here. There are some amendments that do not make funding changes – they add and delete the same amount of funding, but their purpose is to provide report language to clarify what the funding can or cannot be used for. The eight amendments that would affect the amount of education funding are listed below. Note: these amendment numbers do not match the original amendment numbers that we shared yesterday, and also note that some of the amendments have changed.

#11, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) – Cuts Education Department management funds by $2 million and moves the funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Lyme Disease.

#35, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) cuts all funding for Division A programs by 4.5%.

#40, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) – Cuts Education Department management funds by $3 million and moves the funding to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

#42, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) cuts all funding for Division A programs by 14%.

#45, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) – adds $500,000 for American History and Civics National Activities, paid for by cutting $500,000 from Education Department Management funds.

#50, Rep. Alma Adams et al adds $500,000 for higher education to keep open the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, paid for by cutting $500,000 from Education Department Management funds.

#61, Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) – Adds $5 million for Graduate Medical Education, paid for by cutting $5 million from Education Department Management funds.

#70, Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) adds $4 million for Education Department’s Inspector General, paid for by cutting $4 million from the Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards.

• House is preparing the next five-bill omnibus funding package – House Rules Committee has announced that the next omnibus appropriations package could be considered next week and has asked for all amendments to be submitted by 11am on Thursday. That package will contain the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior and Environment, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD bills. That leaves only Financial Services and Homeland Security – which are being marked up in the Appropriations Committee today – and the Legislative Branch bills.

• Senate may soon set its own discretionary levels if no budget agreement is reached – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Republican Appropriations Committee leadership are set to meet with Administration budget leaders this afternoon to pursue talks on a budget deal that would raise the discretionary spending caps. Those talks do not involve Democrats, making it less likely that any potential agreement would be acceptable to the House. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) said that if there is no movement towards reaching a deal, the Senate could soon follow the House’s actions in “deeming” a FY 2020 discretionary total and starting its 12-bill appropriations process based on that total. That total is almost certain to be well below the level the House deemed. We’re hearing that the Labor-HHS-Education bill would be one of the first to be considered, but that the earliest that could happen would be the last week of June in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. If the House and Senate go forward with different assumptions about total discretionary funding, that makes it harder – or impossible! – to conference the House and Senate versions of the spending bills, meaning that the final funding bills (a) will be likely done late and (b) could be quite different from the House and eventual Senate versions, depending on what a budget agreement sets for total discretionary funding.

From US Department of Education
CONSENSUS: HIGHER EDUCATION REFORMS
On June 11, the Department announced the publication of proposed regulations designed to reduce the unnecessary regulatory burden associated with accreditor oversight of the nation’s colleges and universities and streamline state authorization requirements for distance education or correspondence courses. These changes, which were developed by a diverse negotiated rulemaking committee earlier this year, are intended to promote innovation, protect students while also ensuring they have access to postsecondary options that meet their unique needs, and reduce irrelevant and overburdensome rules on institutions of higher education. Secretary DeVos (press release).

The proposed regulations would:
• revise the requirements for accrediting agencies in their oversight of member institutions and programs to be less prescriptive and provide greater autonomy and flexibility in order to facilitate agility and responsiveness and promote innovation;
• revise criteria used by the Secretary to recognize accrediting agencies to focus on education quality and allow competition;
• revise the Department’s process for recognition and review of accrediting agencies;
• clarify the core oversight responsibilities among each entity in the regulatory triad (accrediting agencies, states, and the Department) to hold institutions accountable;
• establish roles and responsibilities of institutions and accrediting agencies in the teach-out process; and
• revise the state authorization requirements for institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses.

The public has an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed regulations before they are finalized in the fall. The 30-day comment period got underway this week, when the regulations were officially published in the Federal Register (deadline: July 12).

TEACH GRANTS
The Department will publish proposed rules that capture the consensus agreements on topics related to distance education and innovation, as well as faith-based institutions and TEACH grants.

ED FLEX AUTHORITY
The Department released the application for states to apply for the Educational Flexibility (Ed-Flex) Program. This program, reauthorized by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), permits State Educational Agencies (SEAs) to waive certain requirements that may impede local efforts to reform and improve education systems. With this flexibility, SEAs can waive select requirements of federal statute or regulations that apply to school districts and schools without first submitting those waivers to the Department.

A small number of states previously had this authority, but, under ESSA, the Secretary may now permit all interested SEAs to apply to become Ed-Flex states. An SEA approved for Ed-Flex authority may waive requirements that apply to Title I, Part A (excluding Section 1111); Title I, Part C; Title I, Part D; Title II, Part A; and Title IV, Part A. A state can be granted Ed-Flex authority for up to five years once its application has been approved.

From the DOJ
WASCD Training Opportunity – Please see the attached training announcement from the Wisconsin Association of School Curriculum Developers (WASCD) regarding a 3-part training conference on Trauma Invested Practices in Wisconsin.

From the NREA
No update this week.

From IES
REL Southeast has developed a set of professional development materials to supplement the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8.

The professional learning community facilitator’s guide complements and extends the practice guide by providing step-by-step guidance for teachers to incorporate three evidence-based recommendations into their classroom practice: Access the facilitator’s guide and materials.

New REL Report Identifies Characteristics Associated with English Learner Academic Performance and Language Proficiency
This study, conducted by REL Midwest in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, explores the relationships between English learner students’ personal and school characteristics and their performance on math, English language arts, and English language proficiency assessments. Cleveland Partnership for English Learner Success

The study examined characteristics of English learner students in grades 3–8, the schools they attended, and their assessment performance in 2011/12–2016/17. Key findings include: Read the report.

Director Events from Last Week
June 10 – Weekly Stakeholder conference call
June 11 – NREAC meeting via conference call
June 12 – State FFA Convention presentation
June 12 – Interview with WPR Here and Now webcast on school closures
June 14 – WAES Board

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
June 17 – Weekly Stakeholder conference call
June 17 – Interview with UW-Madison on community advocacy for public education
June 19 – Meeting with members in Colby
June 20 – Conference call with WPR
June 20 – Conference call with Mike Koltes at CESA 5 on the WiRSA budget.

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