WEAC Education Advocacy Update – January 17, 2020

WEAC continues to monitor several education-related bills, and this week we’re issuing two new Education Advocacy Alerts for you to contact legislators. As you send emails to elected leaders, remember to share your unique perspective as an educator. If you have any questions, contact WEAC Public Affairs.

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Raising retirement age for teachers (SB 612 / AB 670). This Republican bill would raise the minimum retirement age for teachers to 59.5 for teachers, who can now retire at 55. Under the proposal, retired public employees would be allowed to work up to 36 months while collecting their pensions. The bill would apply to employees under the age of 40 on the bill’s effective date. The proposed change to the minimum retirement age also wouldn’t apply to employees in protective services, including police officers, firefighters, most correctional officers and the state patrol.

Republicans in the 2013-15 budget placed limits on so-called “double dipping” but amid the mounting teacher shortage, they have introduced the bill as their solution. Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed 2019-21 budget included a provision that would have allowed districts to rehire retired teachers who are collecting their pensions, but would have restricted the teachers from applying the new salaries to their pensions. But Republicans stripped that provision from the budget. WEAC analysis shows SB 612 would target teachers and a primarily female workforce.

The bill was referred to Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection and the Assembly Committee on State Affairs. No committee hearings are set.

Re-hiring teachers after retirement (SB 627 / AB 698). This Democrat-sponsored bill would allow a teacher annuitant who retired from a school district at least 30 days to return to work as a teacher and elect to not become a participating employee for purposes of the Wisconsin Retirement System, and instead continue to receive his or her annuity.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection and the Assembly Committee on State Affairs. No committee hearings are set.

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Other bills we’re watching:
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. The Joint Finance Committee has recommended passage, and the Assembly is set to vote soon.
School-based mental health consultation (SB-608 / AB-644). Would require the Department of Health Services to create and administer a school-based mental health consultation pilot program in Outagamie County to assist participating school-based providers in providing enhanced care to students with mental health care needs, to provide referral support for those students, and to provide additional services. The Joint Finance Committee has recommended passage, and the Assembly is set to vote soon.

School Board Meeting Notice (SB 160 / AB 170). This would change the way that school board meetings can be noticed. Notably, it provides that, “if a school district clerk or, in the clerk’s absence, the school district’s president determines that providing notice at least 24 hours before the meeting is, for good cause shown by the clerk or president, impossible or impractical, the clerk or resident may notify each school board member of the date, time, and place of the meeting less than 24 hours, but not less than 2 hours, before the meeting.” The bill has passed the Senate. The Assembly is set to vote soon.

Assembly Education Committee Meets Thursday. These are the bills the committee is set to take up:

Seclusion and Restraint (SB-527 / AB-585). This bill would impose additional requirements on schools. It also changes where data on incidents of seclusion or physical restraint is housed to the DPI. The Assembly Committee will vote on this bill. The Senate version of the bill has received a public hearing in its education committee.

New Berlin Open Enrollment (AB 702). This bill would allow the New Berlin School District to give preference to residents of New Berlin in accepting full-time open enrollment applications.