Legislative Leaders Announce Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding

By John Forester | December 6, 2017

Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald have announced the creation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding.

The Commission will be chaired by Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Senator Luther Olsen.  The Commission will hold its first meeting this month.

For more information, including the members of the Commission, see the press release from Vos and Fitzgerald.

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Stroebel Appointed to Joint Finance Committee

By John Forester | December 6, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today appointed Sen. Duey Stroebel to the Joint Finance Committee.

The Saukville Republican, who was elected to the Senate in 2015, replaces Sheila Harsdorf, who last month became DATCP secretary. He also was one of three Republicans who issued a series of veto demands to Gov. Scott Walker before agreeing to support final passage of the budget in September.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Stroebel will serve the remainder of the 2017-18 term.

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Another Attempt to Limit the State Superintendent’s Power

By John Forester | December 6, 2017

From the Legal Side . . .

Here we go again.  Check out the latest Legal Update from the Strang Patteson Law Firm in which they place the latest challenge to the State Superintendent’s authority in the context of a more than two-decade long battle to limit the Superintendent’s power.

The SAA regularly receives these legal updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Strang Patteson.

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Governor Signs Education Bills

By John Forester | December 1, 2017

Yesterday, Governor Walker signed the following education bills into law:

AB-266 Technical Excellence Scholarship Program (Krug, Scott) Eligibility for the Technical Excellence Higher Education Scholarship Program. Signed (Act 91)

AB-250 Alternative Education Grants (Assembly Education Committee) Alternative education grants. Signed (Act 92)

AB-251 DPI Grant Programs (Assembly Education Committee) Modifying rules related to various grant programs administered by the Department of Instruction. Signed (Act 93)

AB-280 Financial Literacy in Schools (Krug, Scott) Incorporating financial literacy into the curriculum of public schools. Signed (Act 94)

SB-299 Montessori Teaching License (Olsen, Luther) An initial teaching license based on completion of a Montessori teacher education program. Signed (Act 106)

SB-382 School Employee Tuberculosis Screening (Olsen, Luther) Screening school district employees for tuberculosis. Signed (Act 107)

 

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SWIB Announces New Executive Director

By John Forester | December 1, 2017

From The Wheeler Report . . .

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board has announced Rick Smirl as the new Executive Director. Smirl will transition into the position in January 2018.

 

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Teacher Protection Act Introduced in Assembly

By John Forester | November 30, 2017

The “Teacher Protection Act”, authored by Representative Jeremy Theisfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), has been introduced in the Assembly as Assembly Bill 693 with 16 Assembly Republican co-sponsors.  The bill has no Senate sponsors.  AB 693 has  been referred to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Representative Jim Ott (R-Mequon).  The SAA strongly opposes the bill.  Stay tuned.

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New Lifetime Teaching Licenses Proving Problematic

By John Forester | November 29, 2017

Check out the Wisconsin Public Radio coverage of the technical problems with the new lifetime teaching licenses.

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Evers Seeks to Use DPI Attorney in Lawsuit

By John Forester | November 29, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

State Superintendent Tony Evers today sought to dump the Wisconsin Department of Justice as his attorney in a lawsuit seeking to force him to comply with a new law that gives the Legislature and guv overview of the administrative rules his agency writes.

Evers declared at a news conference AG Brad Schimel was “fired.”

But DOJ said it will continue to represent the Department of Public Instruction despite the disagreements between the two agencies over the core questions in a lawsuit filed by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty seeking to require Evers to comply with the “REINS” Act.

Evers’ backers raised the prospect today the state Supreme Court may have to first decide who will represent DPI before moving forward with the petition to take up the lawsuit directly.

“Whether Superintendent Evers likes it or not, the State of Wisconsin is the actual defendant in this lawsuit, and his personal opinions as to the what the law is or should be will have no bearing on the Attorney General’s power or ethical duty to represent the State,” said state DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos.

It is the latest twist in an burgeoning battle over who should represent DPI in the lawsuit after the agency sought its own representation, but was rebuffed by DOJ and Gov. Scott Walker.

WILL has asked the state Supreme Court to rule whether the 2017 REINS Act covers DPI, which has declined to abide by the requirements. The agency has cited a 2016 state Supreme Court decision on a different law governing the administrative rules process that DPI could not be required to submit proposals to the guv because the superintendent is a separate, constitutionally elected office.

WILL has indicated it plans to ask the court to reconsider that earlier ruling, contending it was a fractured majority.

Evers today accused DOJ of having a conflict of interest in the case, citing rules that attorneys advocate for their clients and abide by their decisions regarding the objectives of representation. He said DOJ argued in last year’s case the superintendent should be covered by the earlier administrative rules process. The agency can’t now ethically represent DPI as it takes the opposing view.

Evers said he hopes to have his agency’s counsel Ryan Nilsestuen represent him in the case. Schimel and Walker last week denied that request, though Nilsestuen has filed a notice of appearance before the state Supreme Court.

“I will never stop fighting for our kids and the state superintendent’s position, and I refuse to be intimidated by Scott Walker’s efforts to silence me,” Evers said.

The 2016 Supreme Court decision stemmed from a 2011 lawsuit filed by Madison Teachers Inc., the Wisconsin Education Association Council and others against Walker, Evers and the DOA secretary. Evers was represented by Nilsestuen in that case and asked the court to block the law. DOJ represented the Walker administration and argued unsuccessfully the law should apply to DPI.

Susan Crawford, who was part of the legal team that sued over the 2011 law, argued it is unethical for DOJ to try representing DPI after it previously opposed Evers’ position.

“If he is not willing to advocate for the superintendent’s position in this case, he needs to step aside and allow a lawyer to represent the superintendent in that case who is willing to vigorously advocate for the superintendent’s position,” she said.

Koremonos said it is not unusual for a client agency to disagree with DOJ’s position and that is not a conflict of interest. Instead, the AG has the power to represent any state official or department upon the guv’s request.

Listen to Evers news conference here.

See the letter DPI sent DOJ today here.

See Wisconsin Public Radio coverage here.

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School Leaders Say K-12 Budget Doesn’t Do Enough for Rural Schools

By John Forester | November 16, 2017

Check out this article from Wisconsin Public Radio in response to Speaker Vos’ comments last week that the Assembly would not take up legislation to increase school sparsity aid.  The article includes great quotes from Superintendents Doug Olsen (Kickapoo) and Ryan Alderson (Cashton).

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LFB Publishes 2017-18 General School Aids

By John Forester | November 15, 2017

From The Wheeler Report . . .

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released the 2017-18 General School Aids Amounts for All School Districts. According to the memo in 2017-18, $4.584 billion from the general fund is appropriated for general school aids. Of that total amount, $4.515 billion is in equalized aid, $54.0 million in integration aid, and $14.9 million in special adjustment aid.

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