Recent Wins & What We've Done
SWSA School Leaders Testify at the Assembly Education Committee on June 24, 2020 to Share Challenges for Reopening Schools
SWSA was invited to testify at an invitational only hearing to discuss the challenges facing districts as they are working hard to reopen schools in the fall.
Lisa Olson (Superintendent Whitnall), Lisa Elliott (Superintendent Greenfield), Jeff Weiss (Superintendent South Milwaukee) and Blaise Paul (Dir. of Business Services, South Milwaukee) provided testimony to the assembly committee members. Their testimony can be found below.
SWSA Hosts Speaker Vos at March 10, 2020 Membership Meeting
Speaker Vos spent 90 minutes with the SWSA Membership on March 10, 2020. We spent a great deal of time discussing his vision for public education in Wisconsin, school funding and how schools are supporting community needs.
In addition, several districts shared their stories focusing on specific legislative issues including:
- Special Education (Whitefish Bay and Glendale River Hills)
- Mental Health (Elmbrook)
- Early Childhood (Greenfield)
SWSA looks forward to continuing the conversation in several of these specific issue areas during the biennial budget.
SWSA Participates in Governor Evers' Press Conference as he announces Budget Surplus Proposal to support Education
A team from the SWSA comprised of Dr. Bryan Davis, Superintendent of Shorewood, Chris Thiel, Legislative Liaison for MPS, Dr. Keith Posley, Superintendent of MPS, and Terri Phillips joined Governor Evers as he announced a significant proposal to support education utilizing budget surplus dollars.
Governor Evers has asked Wisconsin lawmakers to consider a $250M plan to strengthen public education funding. SWSA applauds the governor's leadership!
Governor Evers is recommending:
- $130 million to restore state funding of public schools to 2/3; this will also provide a property tax cut for Wisconsin residents!
- $84 million in support of special education
- $23 million to improve and expand mental health services
- $10.1 million in sparsity aid payments for smaller, rural schools
SWSA is advocating for this proposal and members are sharing their stories of how this proposal will positively impact their children and communities.
Team of SWSA Members met with DPI State Superintendent on October 24, 2019
A team from the SWSA comprised of superintendents, board members, and business managers met with the DPI State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor in Milwaukee on October 24, 2019. This team also met Assistant State Superintendent Keona Jones and special assistant to the state superintendent Latoya Holiday.
This was a great first meeting with the state superintendent! We had an opportunity to share some successes and challenges facing our districts. The state superintendent shared some of the items they are considering for the next state budget and they align with the SWSA legislative platform. The state superintendent is looking for other issue areas that are priorities for our districts.
Representative Evan Goyke (Milwaukee) meets with the SWSA on July 9, 2019
On July 9, 2019, Representative Evan Goyke (Milwaukee) met with the SWSA membership. We invited Rep. Goyke to share his experience on the Joint Finance Committee as well as to share ideas about how our organization might increase the impact of our advocacy efforts.
Rep. Goyke is a lawyer, an instructor at Marquette University and a former assistant public defender. He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2012 serving the Milwaukee area. Rep. Goyke served on the Joint Finance Committee during this past budget cycle. Representative Goyke's State Legislature Webpage
SWSA Members Meet with Charles Franklin and Alan Borsuk on July 29, 2019
On July 29, 2019 16 superintendents, board members, and one business manager from SWSA met with Charles Franklin and Alan Borsuk at the Marquette Law School.
The goal of the meeting was to delve deeper into poll data and have a more in-depth conversation about K-12 issues and discuss recent advocacy efforts. A recap of this meeting can be found here: Borsuk/Franklin & SWSA Meeting July 29, 2019
Charles Franklin is a nationally recognized government scholar and pollster. He has been the director of the Marquette Law School Poll since its inception in 2012 and became a full time member of the faculty in 2013.
Alan Borsuk is best known for his reporting on education issues and also serves as a senior fellow in law and public policy at the Marquette Law School. Alan writes a weekly column about education, appearing Sundays in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
SWSA Members Testify at Joint Finance Committee Hearings Across the State!
On April 10, 2019, several superintendents and board members from SWSA testified at the Oak Creek Joint Finance Committee hearing to share their position about Governor Evers' proposed state budget. Districts who attended the hearing were Brown Deer, Whitnall, Muskego-Norway, Kenosha, Oak Creek-Franklin, South Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, and St. Francis.
Several other districts including Kettle Moraine (testified in Janesville), Shorewood (testified inGreen Bay), and Racine Unified (testified in Green Bay) have attended other hearings across the state.
Many districts are submitting written testimony to the Joint Finance Committee as well.
Terri Phillips, SWSA Executive Director testified on behalf of the entire organization and her testimony can be found on the link below.
Education Academy 101: Demystifying School Finance (March 21, 2019)
On March 21, 2019, Business Managers and Superintendents from across the state came together to hold a half-day workshop for legislators and their staff on school finance. This workshop was designed to be a "straight forward, spin-free talk" on school finance led by experts in the field. This workshop also featured a special guest speaker, Bob Soldner from DPI.
The goal of this workshop was to help legislators and their staff build an understanding of basic school finance concepts so they are prepared to make informed decisions during the biennial budget cycle.
SWSA spearheaded this effort and partnered with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA), Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN), and the School Administrators Alliance(SAA).
- Blaise Paul, South Milwaukee Business Manager
- Shawn Yde, Whitefish Bay Business Manager
- John Gahan, Pewaukee Business Manager
- Tom Wermuth, River Valley Superintendent
- Brian Krey, River Valley Superintendent
- Bob Soldner, Assistant State Superintendent for Finance and Mgt., DPI
- John Stellmacher, Hartford Jt. 1, Business Manager
- Ben Niehaus, Florence County Superintendent
- Shawna Lindow, CPA and Financial Mgr., of School Districts Niagara and Florence
The full presentations can be found below:
The handouts that were distributed can be found below:
SWSA hosts panel and discussion about teacher pipeline with the Deans of Greater Milwaukee
On March 12, 2019, SWSA hosted a panel discussion with the Deans of Greater Milwaukee to discuss the challenges facing Wisconsin and the country regarding teacher pipeline.
The morning began with a panel discussion with the deans to share their perspectives on the issue. This panel was then followed with small group break outs to delve into the topic a little deeper.
SWSA and the deans are committed identifying areas where we can work together to improve the outlook for the teacher pipeline.
School Boards across Wisconsin Passing Resolutions to Increase Special Education Reimbursement Rate to 90%
School boards across the state are passing resolutions to increase the reimbursement rate to 90% for special needs students, matching the reimbursement rate given to private schools under the legislated Special Needs Scholarship Program.
The federal government has stated a commitment to fund 40% of the costs of supporting students with special needs, but funds only 15%. In addition, Wisconsin had statutory language to fund over 60% of costs related to these students, but now funds merely 26%. The state of Wisconsin has not increased funding in public school special education categorical aid for over a decade.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau concluded that because of historic under funding of the state and federal government, public school districts must now fund over $1 billion to cover the educational costs associated with implementing Individualized Education Programs for students with special needs. As a result of under funding these critical services for students with special needs, public schools districts across Wisconsin transfer funds from their general fund to make up the gap.
SWSA is collecting resolutions from all over the state (including many in our own membership) and storing them in a google drive. Click on the link to see who has passed these resolutions and please feel free to use the resolution language for your district.
Special Education Reimbursement Rate Increase Resolutions
Please click on the link below to view a map that can inform you as to the positive fiscal impact of this increase on your own district.
Other News- COVID-19
- SWSA is keeping a google document of resources up to date for your convenience. This google document includes resources and articles that the Executive Director has been sending out since mid-March 2020. This document can be found here: COVID-19 Resources and Articles