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

 Good Morning,

In this edition please take time to look at the news from WATG, Federal update and the NREA articles.

Congratulations to the following Member School Districts: The following member schools were recently awarded 21st Century Community Learning Grants – Abbotsford, Adams Friendship, Arcadia, Brodhead, Chequamegon, Cornell, Hillsboro, Ladysmith, Mauston, Merrill, Montello, Necedah, North Crawford, Phillips, Southern Door, St. Croix Falls, Wauzeka-Steuben, and Whitehall.

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. Please note the program is online.  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.

Announcing the First Annual WiRSA Educator Job Fair: In an ongoing effort to provide support and resources for our members, WiRSA will be holding an Educator Job Fair on October 29th as part of our conference activities. The Job Fair will take place on Tuesday afternoon following the closing of the conference. We will be reaching out to the Schools of Education to invite Fall semester student teachers and students in their last semester of student teaching to attend the conference free of charge and to visit the Job Fair. WiRSA members will be able to sign up free of charge for a recruiting table at the Job Fair.  Our hope is to show these potential teacher candidates that rural schools are a great place to work. More information to follow.

WiRSA Conference Vendor Booth / Sponsorship Registration is Open (Booths are almost gone): 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. Vendor/Sponsor Registration Form.

News from Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted (WATG)
The Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted (WATG) is a 503(c) non-profit organization of parents, students, educators, business and industry personnel, and other interested persons dedicated to fostering a climate in the home, school, and community that allows each individual to reach his or her unique potential.

WATG’s goals are:

  • To offer relevant educational opportunities to meet the needs of our various constituencies
  • To foster effective programs to maximize the development of talent in all individuals
  • To strengthen channels of communication among all those interested in the development and nurturing of high potential
  • To provide referral services to those seeking consultation regarding concerns related to giftedness and talent development

WATG has partnered with many state-wide groups and is highly interested in fostering new and rich collaborations with rural communities to provide opportunities for gifted students.

Additionally, WATG will be presenting their annual fall conference entitled Revolutionizing the Basics: Making Education WORK for Gifted Students, October 3-4 at the Wilderness Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells. The conference will feature two outstanding keynote speakers, Ian Byrd of, and Dr. Scott Peters from the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.  Conference breakout sessions are designed to stimulate, enrich, and provide networking opportunities for educators, families, teens, and business and community leaders.

More information about WATG and their conference.

Legislative Update for the Week of August 19th
Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety – August 22 at 10:00
Assembly Bill 44 – Relating to: installation of a barricade device on an interior door in a school building.

National Level Legislative Update From NREAC/CEF
This summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) related to the schools and libraries program, known as E-Rate. In the NPRM, the republican FCC Commissioners pose and consider setting an overall cap for the programs financed under the Universal Service Fund (USF). As a reminder, the USF is a system of telecommunications subsidies and fees designed to promote and expand universal access to telecommunications in the US. It is authorized by the Telecommunications Act and was created to support and serve four distinct programs: schools and libraries (E-Rate), rural health care, lifeline, and Connect America Fund. Full details on the blog.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACTION. Our goal in mobilizing the AASA and NREAC membership is to create a groundswell of feedback from the field, highlighting for the FCC not only the importance of E-Rate, but also how their proposed changes threaten E-Rate and what those changes will mean for your schools. We need all hands-on deck, and we need as many comments filed as possible. All comments must be received by August 26 (or email them to Noelle by August 21 and she will file them for you!). All details on how to file comments, including a template to work from, can be found on the blog.

School Nutrition
On July 24th, USDA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would limit states’ ability to implement Broad-based Categorical Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Under current law, States can offer benefits from SNAP to families that qualify for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant (TANF). This benefits schools by making it easier for families on the cusp of the federal poverty line to qualify for FRPL.

If implemented, the proposed rule will (1) redefine TANF benefits for categorical eligibility to mean ongoing and substantial benefits; (2) limit the types of non-cash TANF benefits conferring categorical eligibility to those that focus on subsidized employment; and (3) require state agencies to inform Food Nutritional Service of all non-cash TANF benefits that confer categorical eligibility. Consequently, these changes will make it more difficult for families to qualify for TANF during short-term financial crises, limit the non-cash pathways that families can utilize to qualify for TANF to subsidized employment or childcare, and increase the paperwork burden for states/schools.

As a result of the rule, approximately 3.1 million families will lose their SNAP benefits. Additionally, the Cat El proposed rule would take away automatic free school meals from more than 500,000 children. USDA has given the public 60 days to comment on the NPRM on or before September 23rd. We need your help to broadcast the importance of Cat El for students, families, and schools. Full details, as well as a template can be viewed on the Leading Edge Blog. Also, You can file your comments by clicking here!

Higher Education Act Reauthorization
Moving to Higher Ed, this year all eyes were on Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) as they worked towards negotiating a new bipartisan Higher Education Act. However, negotiations over Title IX, Title II, and Title IV programs have stalled the reauthorization, and many are starting to wonder whether they’ll get the job done. To further complicate HEA reauthorization in the Senate, Chairman Alexander’s legislative priorities have recently been muddied by Trump’s call for new school safety and mental health legislation. Thus, the bottom line is we will have to wait and see how the Senate proceeds.

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. Thus far, the House Ed and Labor Committee have held only 2 hearings on higher education this month, but our intel suggests more could be coming soon as there are rumors that the House may release bill text before the Senate in early fall. Regardless of where the bill originates, AASA will respond to protect Title II and elevate the voices of superintendents on this issue.

Also, noteworthy, check out a new toolkit from the National Conference of State Legislators on postsecondary programs in rural areas. In the report are useful statistics about the demographic changes in rural America, barriers to economic obtainment in rural communities, and strategies for policymakers to improve postsecondary programs in these localities. Give it a look here!

CMS Guidance
Last month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued this Joint Informational Bulletin to provide the school districts with information about addressing mental health and substance use issues in schools. Specifically, this guidance includes examples of approaches for mental health and substance use disorder related treatment services in schools and describes some of the Medicaid state plan benefits and other Medicaid authorities that states may use to cover mental health and SUD related treatment services. Additionally, the guidance summarizes best practice models to facilitate implementation of quality, evidence based comprehensive mental health and SUD related services for students.

Medicaid in Schools
We are making progress in getting bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced that would allow states that option to streamline the Medicaid reimbursement process for districts and dramatically reduce the paperwork required to be completed by providers. We will update you with more information soon.

We are waiting to see whether the Senate version of the SECURE Act will contain potentially harmful 529 provisions that would expand tax savings to families that homeschool. In May we were successful in ensuring the House-passed legislation did not contain this 529 expansion for homeschoolers, but there is a push by Senator Cruz and other conservatives on the Senate side to incorporate this tax benefit for homeschooling families in their version of the bill.

Public Charge Regulation
As expected, the Trump Administration has finalized a regulation that could harm millions of children in immigrant families. The final regulation puts admissions to the U.S. or applications for a “green card” at risk if an immigrant uses Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps”) or “Section 8” rent vouchers. Estimates peg the regulation’s impact at 26 million people nationwide. That includes the one-fourth of all children in the U.S. — the vast majority born here — who live in immigrant families. By the Administration’s own admission, child poverty, hunger, unmet health needs and homelessness will rise if the regulation is implemented. And because immigrants targeted by the new rule are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, experts expect racial disparities in education and child well-being to widen.

When proposed last fall, the regulation drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. Children’s advocates, educators, pediatricians, school districts, public health officials, and other community leaders also spoke out against the regulation.

Congress is considering legislation that would protect children and families from the menace of the public charge rule. The No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.), would block funding of the regulation’s implementation. Some House lawmakers are also working to block funding through the appropriations process.

FY 2020 Appropriations
Both the House and Senate have passed the overarching budget deal crafted by the President and Congressional leaders, a crucial step in annual appropriations work. In terms of what is in the deal, the measure increases statutory spending limits by $323 billion combined in fiscal 2020 and 2021. It also suspends the debt limit through July 31, 2021, avoiding the risk of a federal default on payments until well after the next presidential election. The deal finally ends the automatic budget cuts enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Specific to our slice of the federal funding pie, this deal doesn’t get into program-level funding. It does, however, break down into defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) which includes our funding. For NDD, the deal includes $621.5 billion in base funding for FY 2020, a $24.5 billion increase over FY 2019 and $78.3 billion more than the current cap, with $8 billion in off budget funding for a total of $629.5 billion. For FY 2021, $626.5 billion in base NDD funding, an increase of $29.5 billion over FY 19 and $71.9 billion over the current cap, with $8 billion in OCO for a total of $634.55. This is just one step, though: Congress will still need to craft the overall deal into the 12 bills that collectively fund the government and needs to do so before October 1 to avoid a shutdown. While the House made progress on many of the 12 bills, it was to a higher overall number, which means they need to ratchet down their spending at the same time that Senate leaders are working through partisan disagreements on how to divvy up the funding. The path to final 2020 numbers is anything but certain

From US Department of Education
Effective Personnel for ALL: Attract, Prepare, Retain
The Office of Special Education Programs recognizes many states experience personnel shortages in their educator workforce. In April, through the 2019 Symposia Series — Effective Personnel for ALL: Attract, Prepare, Retain, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) kicked off a focused effort to support States in their work to address personnel shortages. The Series focused on three critical areas: attracting new personnel to the field, preparing them for a successful career, and retaining them longer term. It explored what we know from existing evidence and established best practices, as well as innovative approaches across the country that are making a difference.

This OSERS blog is meant to further these efforts by soliciting your feedback. OSEP invites you to share your thoughts on how we can best support States in their work to Attract, Prepare, and Retain Effective Personnel

From the DOJ
No update this week.

From the NREA
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.

The Candidates and Rural Policy: A Quick Guide
Here’s a roundup of the candidates’ positions on rural policy and a sampling of their statements about rural.


Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces New $5 Million Funding Opportunity for Expanding Effective School Practices to Support the Whole Child

Director Events from the Last Few Weeks
August 12 – Meeting with UWP School of Ed and Northeast WI Educators
August 12 – Weekly Stakeholder Meeting
August 13 – Meeting with REL Midwest
August 13 – Senate Education Committee
August 13 – NREAC Conference Call
August 15 – NREA Executive Committee Call
August 16 – CESA 12 PAC

Director Events for the Upcoming Week
August 19 – Weekly Stakeholder Meeting
August 22 – Founders Meeting
August 22 – Presentation to Drinking Liberally Group

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