Wisconsin

Walker Budget Eliminates Minimum Hours of Instruction for School Districts

Education

Governor Scott Walker recommends repealing several state mandates on K-12 public schools in his 2017-19 budget, including the current minimum hours of instruction requirement. A bill passed in 2014 repealed the requirement that school districts must hold school for at least 180 days each year, but left in place the requirement that schools must schedule and hold a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction. Walker’s proposal removes that requirement.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson told Media Trackers: “the upside to eliminating the hours of instruction mandate is giving local control to allow innovation in education. School boards can innovate to determine the best approach to educate their students and are accountable to voters.” Assembly Education Committee Chairman, Republican Jeremy Theisfeldt, when told of the proposal by Media Trackers, said he favored it.

“I’m supportive of that. Since we’ve had this whole accountability push, this has kind of been a growing movement. A lot of school districts and schools are saying ‘if we’re going to be held to report cards and other measures, let us deal with how many days of school or how many hours of school we have to hold to accomplish what you want us to do.’ It’s a recognition that if the report card (the state’s evaluation of schools) is valuable, let’s let the schools decide how to get to that point.”

Walker’s budget also eliminates various requirements that apply to school boards:

  • That a school board hold a monthly regular school board meeting
  • That a school board not enter into an employment contract with a school administrator that exceeds two years
  • That a school district clerk submit a statement of the school district’s indebtedness to the secretary of state, upon request

Evenson said while the changes give school districts more flexibility, school boards are ultimately accountable to their voters.

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