State Supreme Court candidates Dallet, Screnock advance to April 3 General Election

Two Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates – Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet and Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock – advanced in Tuesday’s Primary Election to the April 3 General Election. Madison attorney Tim Burns was eliminated from the race.

Dallet has criticized Screnock for being “beholden” to Republican and conservative interests including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

“I think the people are ready to have a Supreme Court justice who has the experience we need to stand up for our values and are tired of special interest money,” Dallet said.

Find out more about the candidates and follow the race at weac.org/election.

Read more:

Michael Screnock and Rebecca Dallet advance in Supreme Court race

Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet will compete for a 10-year term on the state’s highest court in the April 3 general election. The two candidates prevailed in Tuesday’s primary election, topping Madison attorney Tim Burns, who was eliminated from the race.

This is an 11.0101(10)(b)(1) communication with WEAC members.

State’s AP participation and performance improve

From the Department of Public Instruction 

More students took more tests with better results. This is how Wisconsin’s 2017 graduates participated and performed in the Advanced Placement (AP) program according to the “AP Cohort Data Report: Graduating Class of 2017” from the College Board.

Wisconsin had 21,910 graduates in the class of 2017 who took 66,660 AP exams while in high school. That’s an increase of 638 graduates and 3,694 exams from the prior year’s graduating class. The 2017 cohort represent 36.4 percent of estimated graduates. Their success rate — the percentage of exams scored three or higher on a five-point scale — was 25.5 percent, up 0.7 percent from the 2016 cohort. Nationally for 2017, 1.17 million graduates took 3.98 million AP exams with a success rate of 22.8 percent.

“It’s heartening to see an increasing number of our students leaving high school with proven college and career readiness,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The Advanced Placement program is one opportunity for our kids to experience the rigor of college-level coursework and, through examination, gain credits or advanced standing that boosts their chances for postsecondary success.”

The AP program is made up of 38 courses, the newest being AP Computer Science Principles. Wisconsin had 125 of its 2017 graduates who took that end-of-course exam with 88.0 percent scoring three or higher. The exam is among a dozen offered in the popular science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields. The state’s 2017 graduates took 23,420 STEM exams, a 7.1 percent increase from the prior year’s graduates.

Students who earn an AP exam score of three or higher on the five-point scale may receive college credit, advanced standing, or both from many colleges and universities. Students from low-income families represent 13.6 percent of 2017 state graduates who took an AP exam. Among those students, 10.8 percent earned a score of three or higher on an exam. Wisconsin public school districts are required to pay exam fees for students whose family income meets guidelines for free or reduced-price school meals. The 2017 AP report says that states that contribute to exam fees for low-income students have narrowed equity gaps. Ten years ago in Wisconsin, 5.4 percent of low-income graduates took an AP exam and 3.6 percent earned a score of three or higher on an exam. Five years ago, 11.0 percent of economically disadvantaged graduates took AP exams with 8.4 percent earning a three or higher on an exam.

“We know that equity in access and opportunity is an issue for students of color, students with disabilities, students from low-income families, and those who are learning English,” Evers said. “While we are making progress in closing equity gaps, our goal is for all students to have access to the resources and rigor they need to be successful. And, we’re not there yet.”

 

Action by WEAC members leads to withdrawal of proposal that threatened teacher rights

Due to the efforts of WEAC members, a proposal to seriously threaten teacher rights won’t move forward, the state education agency announced Thursday. Thousands of WEAC members answered the call to action to provide testimony on proposed changes, which included the licensure system as well as sweeping revisions to teacher discipline procedures. While WEAC collaborated on the system changes to support the goal of easing the teacher shortage, our members determined the discipline changes would push professionals away from teaching.

“WEAC members stood up in huge numbers to get involved,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “Teachers want to partner on sound solutions to easing the teacher shortage, and this particular proposal would not have achieved that.”

South Central Wisconsin teacher Lauren Thompson, who provided testimony, thanked the DPI for listening to teachers, saying, “As an early career educator, these changes could have seriously changed my outlook on the profession. I appreciate that you took my testimony, and the testimony of teachers across the state, seriously enough to pull the changes.”

In response to the outpouring of concern from teachers like Lauren, the DPI has sent an email to WEAC, saying:

“In response to feedback from WEAC, other organizations, and the public, the department will be removing the proposed changes to PI 34 regarding professional misconduct. In its place, the department will use the current license investigation, denial, and revocation process contained in PI 34.35.”

President Martin called the announcement an example of how the union can improve the day-to-day lives of educators. “We couldn’t have achieved this without collective action. Nobody else would have brought this issue to our attention and organized educators to action,” he said. “From holding a tele-town hall for WEAC members to understand the issue, to soliciting nearly 1,000 pieces of testimony, our union made a difference.”

This is only one example of union victory when educators work together. After WEAC united to oppose a plan to end Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave, the head of a Senate committee last week indicated he won’t move ahead with the bill this session. And, a misguided proposal introduced under the guise of “protecting teachers” appears to have stalled after we stood together in opposition.

To join WEAC in our efforts for students, educators and public schools, go to www.weac.org/join.


Teacher Licensing Revisions: Need to Know

What won’t move forward: A complete overhaul of disciplinary procedures that created vague rules for teacher discipline including “boundary violations,” suspensions and revocations.

What will move forward: The portion of changes that relate to the licensure system will move forward. These changes were crafted with input from education stakeholders, including WEAC, and represent collaboration between education groups. WEAC has secured agreement from the DPI that all current license holders would have the choice to be grandfathered or convert to the new system. The proposal would:

  • Create four tiers of licensure to simplify and clarify ambiguity.
  • Create out-of-state license reciprocity.
  • Accept National Board Certification as an acceptable indicator to qualify for licensure.
  • Provide license reciprocity for speech and language pathologists/audiologists with clinical licenses, a logical step to address the educator shortage. This proposed change further illustrates that the Educator Effectiveness matrix does not fit every educator license category.
  • Provide for internships and residencies, effective methods to address the teacher shortage. The proposed changes reflect current statewide practice.
  • Increase flexibility around testing requirements for preservice educators to focus on core teaching methods.
  • Expand grade levels one can teach.
  • Create broad field licenses in science, music, ELA and social studies.
  • Allow school districts to endorse candidates for a teacher license. WEAC has achieved assurances from the DPI to ensure that the DPI or a higher education institution with a DPI-approved teacher preparation program would be involved with any license issuance, so the quality of education isn’t diminished for students.

Legislative Update – February 15 – Bill that severely threatens student privacy up for a vote on Tuesday

AB-693 will be up for an Assembly committee vote next Tuesday. The bill, introduced by Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt, severely threatens student privacy under the guise of protecting teachers. So far, there’s no companion bill, and WEAC continues to monitor. Read this column by teacher Andy Waity, president of Madison Teachers Inc.

Welfare Overhaul. The Assembly took up the special session welfare overhaul package on the floor this afternoon. All 10 of the bills have cleared a Senate committee as of this week. Juvenile corrections were also up for a joint public hearing. A rundown of other bills in the mix is below. Find details on all here: All the Bills We’re Watching.

The Assembly is also set to vote today on the following bills:

County jailers and the WRS. AB 676 / SB 577 would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs. Fiscal estimate

AB-872 Career and Tech Ed Grants (Loudenbeck, Amy) Career and technical education incentive grants for school districts and completion awards for pupils and making an appropriation.

AB-804 Merit Scholarships (August, Tyler) Merit scholarships for certain University of Wisconsin System students and making an appropriation.

The Assembly is set to vote Tuesday, February 20, on the following bills:

AB-215 Nutrition Education (Petryk, Warren) Education about nutrition.

AB-564 Robotics League Grants (Neylon, Adam) Robotics league participation grants.

AB-569 School Reports (Kitchens, Joel) Publication of school and school district accountability reports.

AB-745 Apprenticeship Participation (Quinn, Romaine) Participation in an apprenticeship program by a high school senior and granting rule-making authority.

AB-808 Apprenticeship Grants (Jacque, Andre) Grants to technical college students for apprenticeships expenses and making an appropriation.

Committee votes next week:

Thiesfeldt Teacher Bill. AB-693 will be up for an Assembly committee vote. The bill severely threatens student privacy under the guise of protecting teachers. So far, there’s no companion bill, and WEAC continues to monitor. Take Action Now!

4K Pilot Program. The Assembly Children and Families Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday, February 21, on AB-797, a Department of Children and Families pilot project to expand 4-year-old kindergarten programs. The Senate Education Committee has passed the companion bill, SB-663.

Passed by Assembly

AB-805 College Credit in High School (Kooyenga, Dale) Excluding certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program. Am. 1 to Sub. 2 adopted, (Voice Vote).  Sub. 2 adopted, (Voice Vote).  Passed, (Voice Vote).  Messaged.  

AB-835 Sparsity Aid (Nygren, John) Sparsity aid, the revenue limit ceiling for school districts, and making an appropriation. Am. 3 adopted, (Voice Vote). Passed, 90-3.  Messaged

Passed by Senate Education Committee

AB-221 Pupil Instruction Pilot Program (Kremer, Jesse) Creating a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction. Passage failed recommendation, 3-4.  

SB-105 Pupil Instruction Pilot Program (Olsen, Luther) Creating a pilot program under which certain school districts are not required to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction. Passage failed recommendation, 3-4.  

Passed by the Assembly Education Committee:

Dual Enrollment. The Assembly Education Committee approved AB 851 / SB 711, which requires the University of Wisconsin System to award grants to school districts, independent charter schools and voucher schools to support dual enrollment programs taught in high schools. Under the bill, grants are awarded to assist high school teachers in meeting the minimal qualifications necessary to teach dual enrollment courses. The grants would end after June 30, 2022.

Earlier this week:

Career and Tech Ed Grants. The Joint Finance Committee meets Tuesday to take up AB-872 / SB-746, which establishes career and technical education incentive grants for school districts and completion awards for pupils.

Workers Comp Changes. The Senate Labor Committee meets Wednesday to take up SB 665, with changes to the worker’s compensation law.

Updates on important issues:

WI FMLA. We shared last week that the Senate Labor Chair is indicating in emails that he has no intention of moving ahead with a bill to eviscerate WI FMLA. WEAC has been on-the-job since October activating members, and you can keep the pressure up by using our Action Alert. We’ve had about 500 action-takers to date, and almost 50 of them have also sent a note to Senator Steve Nass to let him know we’re watching now that he’s committed NOT to advance the bill this session.

See All the Bills We’re Watching

 

Family’s experiences in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin illustrate impact of political climate on education, unions

In an Education Minnesota article, Sparta, Wisconsin, teacher Lauren Cody says her mother’s involvement in the union as a Minnesota Education Support Professional has instilled in her a deep appreciation of the importance of the union for educators and students.

Lauren, a fourth-grade teacher in her second year of teaching, says she joined the union because she saw the benefits the union has provided to her mom, Deb Cody, as a paraprofessional in Caledonia, Minnesota.

“My mom is active in the union, and that is what motivated me to also get involved,” Lauren said. “I have learned a lot from her experiences. I have seen her work through numerous injustices, and it has really opened my eyes to how imperative it is to be part of the union.”

The article emphasizes the negative impact of Act 10 on educators and education in Wisconsin and also the impact of similar legislation in Iowa, where Deb Cody’s son, Kalyn, teaches. Deb says the experiences of her children in Wisconsin and Iowa illustrate how critical it is that educators in Minnesota work to maintain their much friendlier environment for unions and public education.

“I feel strongly and talk often to others about the benefits of being a union member,” she said.

Read the entire article:

Education Minnesota – Minnesota Educator

As a mom, Deb Cody is of course proud of her children. As a paraprofessional, she is even prouder that two of her children became teachers. As a leader in her local union in Caledonia, Deb is nervous about losing collective bargaining rights because she sees the effect it can have on the education profession with her daughter teaching in Wisconsin and her son in Iowa.

98.3 percent of Wisconsin communities provide free 4K

From the Department of Public Instruction

With the addition of three public school districts offering 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) to children and their families for the 2017-18 school year, Wisconsin now has 98.3 percent of communities that provide free public education to 4-year-olds.

The three new districts — Ashland, Brighton #1, and Hudson — will receive 4K start-up grants to offset the lag in funding related to how students are counted for state aid purposes. The grants are authorized to provide $3,000 per student in the first year of a new 4K program and $1,500 per student in the second year. Funding is estimated to be prorated to about $1,400 per student at the end of the first year of 4K for these new districts and estimated at the full statutory allocation ($1,500) at the end of the second year. For the 2017-18 school year, 404 public school districts are offering 4K to 48,905 students, an increase of 141 students from last year’s unaudited figures.

“Research is clear that young children develop important skills and gain a foundation for future learning through 4-year-old kindergarten programs,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Quality 4K offers rich experiences, including play-based learning that helps kids learn to work cooperatively and get along as well as expanding academic knowledge. This truly sets the stage for future success.”

Both Ashland and Hudson are using a community approach to provide services to children and their families. The community approach brings together local leaders representing business, schools, child care, Head Start, recreation, and parent education to develop programs that meet community needs.

Quality 4K programs, whether offered publicly or privately, have some common characteristics. They include highly trained teachers who have expertise in early childhood education, small class sizes, and a program that provides rich learning experiences and time for child-directed exploration. Public 4K programs are encouraged to follow the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which are aligned with the academic standards students will encounter as they progress through public schools in the state.

In addition to 4K in public schools and various community approach settings, many 4-year-olds attend state-supported 4K through independent charter and private voucher schools. All 17 independent charter schools in Racine and Milwaukee that serve elementary students offer 4K programs, enrolling 697 students for the 2017-18 school year. For the state’s three private school choice programs, 100 schools offer 4K in the Milwaukee Parental Choice program, enrolling 1,964 students; 12 schools offer 4K in the Racine Parental Choice Program, enrolling 192 students; and 69 schools offer 4K in the Wisconsin Parental Choice program, enrolling 248 students.

For state aid purposes, 4K students are counted as 0.5 or 0.6 FTE (full time equivalent), depending on the services the schools provide. Under state law, 4K programs must offer at least 437 hours of direct pupil instruction. Outreach activities totaling 87.5 hours, such as child-parent activities, home visits, or parent education, may be a part of the scheduled hours for the 0.5 FTE student count or in addition to the 437 hours for the 0.6 FTE count.

Legislative Update – February 14 – Assembly OKs rural schools bill

After lengthy debate, the Assembly passed a bill 91-2 to help rural schools. The two members voting against the bill were Reps. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, and Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake. An amendment allows districts with a failed referendum to present another one to voters. If successful, they would then qualify. This provision in the bill, even with the added amendment, received sharp criticism from Democrats. Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, the ranking member of the Assembly Education Committee, voted for the bill, but said she was still troubled over its retroactive provision. “Now that the majority party has finally decided to take meaningful action in funding education, they want to punish districts who did what they had to do just to survive,” Pope said. Here’s more about the bill, from a recent WEAC Legislative Update:

Low Revenue Ceiling and Sparsity Aid. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) amended Senate Bill 690 before unanimously passing it. The amendment allows for nine school districts that would have been frozen under the proposal the ability to go to advisory referendum to use the low revenue ceiling increase. If the referendum passes, districts could raise the local levy using the low revenue ceiling adjustment. If the referendum fails, a new three-year freeze wouldn’t be enacted but the district would still have to wait the three years since the operational referendum failed to use the low revenue ceiling. The Assembly Education Committee has already passed companion bill AB 835, so the next stop for this one is in the full Senate. Here are the details of the bill:

  • Low Revenue Ceiling: Would increase the low revenue ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 in 2019. The bill also would increase the low revenue ceiling by $100 each school year, beginning in 2020, until the ceiling reaches $9,800 in 2023. The DPI estimates the statewide cost of this bill to be a maximum of $21.8 million in 2019, depending on whether nine additional school districts going to referendum this spring are successful.
  • Sparsity Aid: This would, beginning in 2019, increase the sparsity aid per pupil amount from $300 to $400. Under the bill, the appropriation for sparsity aid would be increased by $6.5 million in 2019. Sparsity aid was vetoed by the governor in the 2017-19 state budget, but he has said he supports the provisions now.

Meanwhile, voucher lobbyists continue to do their thing at the Capitol, looking for more ways to siphon funding meant for the majority of Wisconsin kids who attend public schools. In fact, SPECIAL NEEDS VOUCHERS ARE SET TO TRIPLE NEXT YEAR.

This week:

Dual Enrollment. The Assembly Education Committee approved AB 851 / SB 711, which requires the University of Wisconsin System to award grants to school districts, independent charter schools and voucher schools to support dual enrollment programs taught in high schools. Under the bill, grants are awarded to assist high school teachers in meeting the minimal qualifications necessary to teach dual enrollment courses. The grants would end after June 30, 2022.

Career and Tech Ed Grants. The Joint Finance Committee meets Tuesday to take up AB-872 / SB-746, which establishes career and technical education incentive grants for school districts and completion awards for pupils.

Workers Comp Changes. The Senate Labor Committee meets Wednesday to take up SB 665, with changes to the worker’s compensation law.

See All the Bills We’re Watching

Participate in the Working People’s Day of Action February 24 in Madison!

Around the country, workers are taking a stand against the continued assault on the rights of working people! Join the Working People’s Day of Action, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 24, 2018, at the State Street side of the Capitol Square in Madison.

AFSCME Wisconsin invites you to stand with your union colleagues, fellow workers and advocates to show all those who have taken away the rights of working people that they will be held accountable.

Speakers at the rally will address the power workers have to demand fair treatment, the proud history of labor, and the Janus vs AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case. Arguments in that case will be heard before the high court two days after the rally.

Open the Day of Action flier.

‘Janus’ case is not just an attack on unions, it is an attack on racial minorities

In this column, published by The Daily Beast, journalist Barrett Holmes Pitner says unions have consistently provided a pathway into the middle class for American minorities. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules this year in favor of the Janus case, it will undermine unions and severely impact the ability of minorities in particular to achieve fair wages and benefits.

“Championing unions formed an integral part of the civil rights movement in 1960s,” writes Pitner, a politics and race-and-culture journalist, and an adjunct professor in the department of Environmental Studies at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other civil rights leaders linked social justice to the strength of labor unions to provide minorities with employment opportunities and a livable wage. Public-sector jobs have historically provided employment opportunities for African Americans before the private sector did, and the employment opportunities created within them provided the black community with job opportunities that never existed before.

“These unions also brought new protections to valued professionals within the black community, notably teachers. From Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond, teaching was especially important, given that white educators simply wouldn’t teach black children in many parts of the country. Many of our best and brightest have flocked to this profession.”

Read the entire column by Pitner:

Unions Helped Integrate America. The Supreme Court Could End That This Year.

This month the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case that threatens to severely weaken the collective bargaining power of America’s unions. This is not a column about the merits and demerits of public-employee unions.

Legislative Update – February 9 – FMLA bill ‘won’t move forward’

Senator Steve Nass, chairman of the Senate committee weighing a bill to end the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, said he has “no intention of moving this bill forward in the remaining days of this session.” Nass made the statement in response to WEAC’s Save Wisconsin FMLA emails, showing that our collective action makes a difference. Don’t stop now! SHARE OUR ACTION ALERT WITH OTHERS WHO HAVEN’T EMAILED YET.

Low Revenue Ceiling and Sparsity Aid. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) amended Senate Bill 690 before unanimously passing it Thursday. The amendment allows for nine school districts that would have been frozen under the proposal the ability to go to advisory referendum to use the low revenue ceiling increase. If the referendum passes, districts could raise the local levy using the low revenue ceiling adjustment. If the referendum fails, a new three-year freeze wouldn’t be enacted but the district would still have to wait the three years since the operational referendum failed to use the low revenue ceiling. The Assembly Education Committee has already passed companion bill AB 835, so the next stop for this one is in the full Senate and Assembly. Here are the details of the bill:

  • Low Revenue Ceiling: Would increase the low revenue ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 in 2019. The bill also would increase the low revenue ceiling by $100 each school year, beginning in 2020, until the ceiling reaches $9,800 in 2023. The DPI estimates the statewide cost of this bill to be a maximum of $21.8 million in 2019, depending on whether nine additional school districts going to referendum this spring are successful.
  • Sparsity Aid: This would, beginning in 2019, increase the sparsity aid per pupil amount from $300 to $400. Under the bill, the appropriation for sparsity aid would be increased by $6.5 million in 2019. Sparsity aid was vetoed by the governor in the 2017-19 state budget, but he has said he supports the provisions now.

Gifted and talented vouchers. A bill to begin gifted and talented education savings accounts (AKA vouchers) was pulled before a committee vote this week, as an amendment was introduced to require repayments to the state in cases of fraud, but it’s back on the legislative track now. The bill would allow any type of school to define “gifted and talented” without oversight, and as is the nature of privatization, collect public money.  The bill is SB 725 / AB 830, the nation’s first attempt at vouchers for gifted and talented children. The measure would pay private school tuition and expenses for 2,000 families who meet requirements set forth. The program would provide $1,000 for each “gifted and talented” student who is already eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches, which means the household’s annual income is at or below $45,510 annually for a family of four. Read national praise for this idea from privatizers at The 74.

Tax proposal. A one-time $100 per child tax credit, regardless of income, refunded by check in July and a sales tax holiday the first weekend of August for purchases under $100 are moving ahead. The governor is publicizing his agreement with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. The bill will likely be introduced and sent to committee next week.  Senator Scott Fitzgerald said his caucus will talk about the proposal, but noted that the sales tax holiday was removed from the budget last year. Assembly GOP leaders, who worked with Walker on the plan, said it would cost $172 million. That includes $122 million for the per-child credit and an estimated $50 million for the sales tax holiday.

Circulating for co-sponsorship:

Supplemental Sparsity Aid. LRB-5382 would provide supplemental sparsity aid for school districts with high property valuation and making an appropriation. Read the memo.

Teacher Grant Program. LRB-5386  would create a grant program for teachers employed by sparsely populated school districts and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Read the memo.

Higher Ed Scholarships. LRB-5387 would award academic excellence higher education scholarships to pupils of public and tribal high schools with enrollments of at least 20 but fewer than 80 pupils. Read the memo.

BILLS WE ARE WATCHING

Public hearings Wednesday:

Usurp local control on workplace standards. The Assembly Local Government Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday on AB 748 / SB 634. The bill preempts a local municipality from enacting a local living wage, fair scheduling standard, and a host of other measures that would improve the lives of working people. The bill has passed the Senate Committee on Labor.

Dual Enrollment. The Assembly Education Committee will hold its public hearing on AB 851. The bill requires the University of Wisconsin System to award grants to school districts, independent charter schools and voucher schools to support dual enrollment programs taught in high schools. Under the bill, grants are awarded to assist high school teachers in meeting the minimal qualifications necessary to teach dual enrollment courses. The grants would end after June 30, 2022. The Senate version, SB 711, received a public hearing Tuesday.

Ready for votes:

Firearm Possession at School. The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee will vote on AB-496, regarding suspending and expelling a pupil for possession of a firearm at school. Its companion bill, SB-402, has passed out of committee.

County jailers and the WRS. AB 676 / SB 577, which would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act, is ready to be scheduled for an Assembly vote. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs. Fiscal estimate

Grants to schools for public safety training. The Assembly Committee on Workforce Development will vote Tuesday on AB 872, which would create an incentive grant program for school districts that provide training for certain public safety occupations and provides completion awards for students who complete those programs. The companion bill, SB 746, is set for a Senate committee vote on Thursday.

Drug abuse awareness, prevention in school. SB 767 lists requirements for counselors and specialists to be certified, and also goes beyond current law to require school boards to incorporate drug abuse awareness and prevention in health instructional programs.

Passed through committee:

Career and Tech Ed Grants. An Assembly committee unanimously passed AB-872, which would provide career and technical education incentive grants for school districts and completion awards for pupils. The Senate version, SB-746, is up for a public hearing Thursday.  Read the fiscal estimate.

Votes scheduled:

Merit scholarships. The Senate Government Operations, Technology & Consumer Protection Committee will vote Thursday on SB-700, which would provide merit scholarships for certain University of Wisconsin System students.

Bill circulating for co-sponsorship:

Local Minimum Wage. LRB-4544 would allow for the enactment of local minimum wage ordinances. Currently, in Wisconsin, local units of government are preempted by state statute from establishing a local minimum wage. Wisconsin’s minimum has stayed stagnant since 2009 at $7.25 an hour. Twenty five percent of Wisconsinites are working low wage jobs that pay less than $11.56 per hour which, even working full time, cannot keep a family of four out of poverty. Read the memo.

LRB-2581 Memo DOA Duties (Vinehout, Kathleen) The duties and function of the Department of Administration, the Department of Revenue, and the Office of the State Treasurer and making appropriations. Deadline: Friday, February 16, 3 pm

Public hearings held Tuesday:

College Credit in High SchoolSB 677 / AB-805 would exclude certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program. The bill was approved by the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee this week.

Expanding 4KSB 663 would allow the Department of Children and Families, as a pilot project, to award grants to organizations, including school boards, with existing four-year-old kindergarten programs for the purpose of expanding those programs.

Repealing rules around large-area supplemental aid. SB 685 / AB 477 would repeal the administrative rules promulgated by the Department of Public Instruction to administer a supplemental aid program for a school district having 500 or fewer pupils and that is at least 200 square miles and incorporates the repealed provisions into current law. The bill also changes, from enrollment to membership, the terminology used to refer to the number of pupils counted to determine the school district’s eligibility to receive the supplemental aid.

Human Trafficking + Drivers Ed. The Senate Universities & Tech College Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday on SB 444 / AB 540, which would require education instruction on human trafficking in drivers education courses, along with two Wisconsin Technical College System Board appointments.

Other updates:

LEGISLATIVE AUDIT BUREAU RELEASES UW SYSTEM AUDIT. The Legislative Audit Bureau has released an audit of the UW System. According to the audit, LAB “have reported concerns related to information technology (IT) security policies, procedures, and controls at UW System since the early 1990s. Such weaknesses increase the risk that unauthorized or erroneous transactions could be processed or changes could be made to accounting, payroll, and student data. We continued to identify weaknesses and reported these weaknesses as a significant deficiency in internal control in our Independent Auditor’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting and on Compliance and Other Matters.”