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Past Issues | November 10, 2014 |
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1. Budget Released

“Across the state in school districts large and small, urban and rural, we’ve heard that Wisconsin’s school funding system is broken. It’s not serving our state well,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers as he introduced his 2015-17 state education budget.

The budget centerpiece, “Fair Funding for Our Future,” contains a number of provisions to fix the funding formula — by investing in all students, protecting rural and declining enrollment districts, making adjustments in the aid formula to account for poverty, providing property tax relief, and increasing general school aid.

The Fair Funding plan is woven into the state superintendent’s larger budget, which also makes important investments in vital programs, including:

  • initiatives targeted at helping our rural schools
  • career readiness for all students (with $4 million for career pathways to boost students’ occupational skills)
  • the first increases in special education funding since 2008 (costs, meanwhile, have been rising)
  • bilingual-bicultural aid (Wisconsin’s English language learner population has been increasing yet support for their education has been falling)
  • Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE)
  • science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • gifted and talented education
  • tribal language revitalization
  • safety programs
  • digital content and software
  • public libraries

The budget also includes responsible revenue limit growth, tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The revenue limit adjustment would be $200 per pupil in the first year of the budget and $204 per pupil in 2016-17.

Evers says his budget supports Wisconsin’s “long and proud tradition of strong public schools and libraries” as well as Agenda 2017, “our goal to ensure all students graduate college and career ready.”

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2. Rural Schools

“It’s an exciting week for rural schools,” State Superintendent Tony Evers noted in a new video, in which he asked rural educators to advocate for his newly released 2015-17 education budget, and also highlighted his Standing Up for Rural Wisconsin Awards, which he will present on Wednesday to:

  • A Little Dirt Never Hurt (Brodhead School District) — A grant to the Brodhead FFA provided the seed for a school garden that blossomed into a summer school course for elementary students, middle and high school students as classroom helpers.
  • Wi-Fi on Rural Bus Routes (Webster School District) — Making the extended time students in rural districts spend on the school bus each day more valuable.
  • CDM Manufacturing Pathways (Durand and Mondovi school districts, Chippewa Valley Technical College) — A collaborative Manufacturing Academy.
  • Florence County Library Community Upgrade Collaboration (Florence County Library and Florence School District) — A community pulled together to make their library a state of the art facility, on a shoestring budget.
  • Green School Strategic Planning Action Team (Hurley School District) — a wide-ranging community effort to reduce waste and energy use, and educate students about choosing healthy lifestyles.
  • It Takes a Village: Learning and Loving to Read (Northern Waters Literacy, Saint Croix Falls Elementary Library, and Reading Friends) — A program which pairs young students with retirees and other community members who help them learn to love to read.
  • Eleva-Strum Community Support Network (Eleva-Strum School District) — School staff and local nonprofits, churches, businesses, organizations, and individuals working to make sure students and their families have enough to eat.

Evers will present the awards during the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance conference at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point.

Evers’ 2015-17 education budget, released this week, includes his Fair Funding for Our Future school finance reform proposal, along with other measures to aid rural schools.

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3. American Education Week Video for Sharing

State Superintendent Tony Evers released a video designed to be shared during American Education Week (November 17-21).

The video will help community members get a grasp on the important initiatives being rolled out this year, while being reminded of Wisconsin’s already high performance in education.

Evers also puts a focus on the Promoting Excellence for All: State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap which he convened this year, and the web resource they created to help close gaps statewide.

Finally, the video concludes with an exhortation to thank teachers for the work they do every day.

The video is peppered with a few photographs from recent school visits, featuring real Wisconsin students and teachers.

Educators are encouraged to consider sharing the video, both within and outside the education community.

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4. Literacy/Early Childhood Grants

The Read to Lead program is offering grants to schools, school districts, and anyone working with an organization in order to implement literacy improvement programs or early childhood development programs.

The 2015-2016 Read to Lead grant applications are available online and are due by 5:00, CST, December 15, 2014.

The scoring criteria are also available — linked off the Read Wisconsin section of the DPI website (

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5. Youth Librarian Consultant Honored

Tessa Michaelson Schmidt

The creator of the DPI’s Growing Wisconsin Readers program has earned the coveted Wisconsin Librarian of the Year award from the Wisconsin Library Association.

With a vision of having every child enter school ready to read, Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, public library consultant for youth and special services, launched Growing Wisconsin Readers in 2013. This three-year early literacy project aims to increase awareness of the importance of developing language and early literacy knowledge, skills, and attitudes in children from birth through kindergarten.

Based in Wisconsin public libraries, the initiative provides resources to caregivers about how to read effectively with babies, toddlers, and young children. On the Growing Wisconsin Readers website, caregivers find helpful information in English, Spanish, and Hmong.

The project reaches out to the library community through in-person trainings, Facebook, Twitter, and a collective blog.

two children, one with his mouth wide open, next to a half-demolished structure composed of plastic cups

As part of the project, Schmidt worked to clarify and simplify grant processes. This enabled libraries in small communities to receive additional funding to provide appropriate services for early literacy activities, such as the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program. By identifying opportunities for libraries to reach families through health care settings, Schmidt guided librarians to write grants for literacy, partnering with the national Reach Out and Read program.

“Growing Wisconsin Readers has become a galvanizing effort across hundreds of Wisconsin libraries, building a bridge between literacy within the home and school through the library,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said.

In announcing the award, the Wisconsin Library Association acknowledged the alignment of Growing Wisconsin Readers with the state superintendent’s Agenda 2017 initiative to have every student graduate college and career ready.

Funding is through the federal Library Services and Technology Act grant awarded to the DPI by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Schmidt resides in Madison and has also worked as an elementary teacher and school media specialist.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Budget Released

2. Rural Schools — Awards and Message

3. American Education Week Video for Sharing

4. Literacy/Early Childhood Grants

5. Youth Librarian Consultant from DPI Honored

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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374