Legislative Update – October 31, 2019

The Assembly has confirmed to members that it will be in session Thursday, November 7, and Tuesday, November 12.  The Senate is still planning on being in session on Tuesday, November 5.

Senate Education Committee

  • Parental Choice Program (SB-495 / AB-554). The Senate Education Committee has approved this bill, which would make minor changes to deadlines for statewide private voucher school applications. This includes accepting applications from the first weekday in February and end on the third Thursday in April, instead of stipulating February 1 to April 20, and report the number of applicants to the DPI by the first weekday in May, instead of May. Additionally, the bill would change language for the Milwaukee, Racine and statewide voucher programs to require an annual “notice” from an accrediting entity, rather than a “letter.” The Assembly Education Committee has held a public hearing on the bill.

The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on the following bills:

  • Revenue Limit Ceiling (SB-437). The revenue limit ceiling for school districts.

Assembly Education Committee

The Assembly Education Committee passed the following bills:

  • Shared Services (SB 413 / AB 441). This bill creates a categorical aid for a school district that enters into an agreement to share administrative personnel services with other school districts or a local unit of government. To be eligible for the aid, the school district must pass a resolution approving participation in the shared services aid program. The amount of aid a school district receives under the shared services aid program is based on the administrative positions that are shared under the agreement.
  • Aid for consolidation or grade sharing (SB 412 / AB 442) This would create a categorical aid for school boards that enter into a whole grade sharing agreement and adopt a resolution to consider school district consolidation. Under the bill, the Department of Public Instruction pays an eligible school board an amount equal to $150 per pupil enrolled in a grade included in the whole grade sharing agreement. A school board may not receive this aid for more than five school years.
  • Feasibility studies for consolidation or grade sharing (SB 409 / AB 456). This would require the Department of Public Instruction to award grants of up to $10,000 each to consortia of school districts to be used for a professional financial analysis of how school district consolidation or entering into a whole grade sharing agreement would affect the school districts.
  • Timing of equalization aid payments to school districts. (SB 415 / AB 461). Under current law, the Department of Public Instruction pays equalization aid to school districts for each school year in the following four installments: 15 percent in September, 25 percent in December, 25 percent in March, and 35 percent in June. This bill increases the percentage of equalization aid distributed in September by 2 points each school year, and decreases the percentage of equalization aid distributed in June by 2 points each school year, until the 2023-24 school year, at which time the amount of equalization aid distributed in both September and June will be 25 percent. The result is that equalization aid will be paid to school districts in four equal installments beginning in the 2023-24 school year.
  • Competitive grants for prevention programs in high schools (AB 528). Appropriates $250,000 per year to DPI for distribution in the form of competitive grants. Grants may be up to $1,000 per school and may be renewed up to three times.
  • WISH Grants (AB 529). Requires DPI annually award a grant to CESA to support the work of the Wisconsin Safe and Healthy Schools Center, funded with $70,000 this year and $200,000 the next.
  • Student identification card information (AB-531). Requires elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational entities to include suicide prevention information on student identification cards beginning in 2020. 

The Assembly Education Committee took no action on the following bill:

  • School Revenue Adjustment School Revenue Adjustment (AB-368SB 327). This bill would alter the school district revenue limit adjustment for declining enrollment and the prior year base revenue hold harmless adjustment. 

Find all the bills we’re watching at www.weac.org/bills