Legislative Priorities #1 as the most important to #10 least important listed #1 Predictable, Sustainable School Funding Index general school revenue growth to the consumer price index (CPI) to align allowable revenue growth with school cost increases and the investments necessary to meet student needs. We need to distribute general revenue increases in a balanced fashion using both revenue limit/general aid and per pupil categorical aid to better meet the needs of all school districts.
#2 Students with Disabilities While we greatly appreciate the increase in special education categorical aid made in the 2019-21 state budget, increasing the current level of special education aid to reimburse 50 percent of aidable costs by the end of the 2021-23 biennium.
#3 Children’s Mental Health In Wisconsin, too many children have unmet mental health needs resulting in serious negative consequences for the individual, their families, our communities and the learning environment in our schools. While we greatly appreciate the school mental health investments made in the last two state budgets, we believe a stronger, long-term commitment from the state is required to meet this challenge. We need to move future investments toward a broad-based, flexible categorical aid to better meet the needs of more students in more school districts: · Expand the School Mental Health Categorical Aid Program to provide financial support for services provided by school psychologists, nurses, counselors and social workers. · The SAA supports increasing School Mental Health Services Collaboration Grant Program funding by $3.5 million annually to support more school districts in connecting students to needed mental health services.
#4 Educator Recruitment & Retention School districts will need continued flexibility in the hiring and licensure of teachers and administrators to manage anticipated high levels of turnover. Recommendations to tackle troubling educator shortages in the short-term: · Ease restrictions on hiring retired educators to fill key positions. · Maximize district flexibility in utilizing the current pool of licensed educators. · Expand and streamline licensing reciprocity to increase the pool of out-of-state educators available under PI 34. · Maximize opportunities for pre-service teachers to serve in direct student instruction. · Provide incentives for teachers to meet dual enrollment accreditation standards.
#5 Revenue Limit Equity Setting low revenue ceiling (LRC) at 90 percent of the statewide average maximum revenue limit per student. The current LRC amount of $10,000 is 87.3 percent of the current state average revenue limit of $11,450. A steadily improving LRC policy is an important part of ensuring equitable resources for all children no matter where they live.
#6 Early Learning Opportunities Numerous studies have shown that improving early learning opportunities, especially for those in poverty, will help prepare children for their PK-12 experience and help reduce achievement gaps. · Counting full-day 4K students as 1.0 FTE for general aid and revenue limit purposes. · Greater investments in high quality birth-to-three programming for those children who have a high probability of not being ready for school.
#7 Economically Disadvantaged Students Wisconsin currently has no comprehensive program that targets additional resources to raise achievement among economically disadvantaged students. We need to provide an additional $150 in per pupil aid for each economically disadvantaged student.
#8 Pupil Count Mitigation Actual student counts on the third Friday in September, the second Friday in January, and summer school have a significant impact in determining a school district’s general aid distribution, revenue limit and per pupil categorical aid. Because of COVID-19, the actual September 2020 student counts for nearly 80 percent of Wisconsin school districts have declined, leaving these districts (because of the three-year rolling average of student enrollment) to face the fiscal consequences for 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23. School districts, and the students they serve, should not suffer financially because of the uncertainties of a public health crisis. For the 2020-21 student counts: · Allowing school districts to use the greater of the districts 2019-20 or 2020-21 pupil count for revenue limit calculations. · Treating the non-recurring declining enrollment exemption and base revenue hold harmless as recurring adjustments for one year only. · Increase special adjustment aid from 85 percent to 90 percent of prior year general aid in each year of the biennium.
#9 Declining Enrollment Relief Whatever the mechanism we need effective relief for those school districts in declining enrollment.
#10 English Learners We need to drastically increase the current level of categorical aid support for English Learners (EL) and direct that support to all school districts with EL students.