State Assembly Passes Two K-12 Education-Related Bills

The State Assembly passed two education bills yesterday (Sept. 24) as it wrapped up a short, two-week, floor period.

The Assembly gave final approval on a voice vote to Senate Bill 217, allowing a school board member to serve as a volunteer coach or extracurricular activity supervisor. That bill, which the WASB supports, has already passed the state Senate and now goes the governor for his signature. (See previous post.)

The Assembly also passed and sent to the Senate Assembly Bill 325, a bill relating to filling school board vacancies, as amended by Assembly Substitute Amendment 1. The substitute amendment was adopted on a voice vote. The bill, as amended, passed on a 57-37 vote.

Under current law, in every school district except the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) a vacancy on a school board is filled by the remaining school board members. (In MPS, a special election is held.) As originally introduced, Assembly Bill 325 would have allowed the school board president to appoint a person to fill a vacancy on the school board if the remaining school board members do not fill the vacancy within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first occurs.

Under the substitute amendment:

  • The provision allowing a school board president to unilaterally fill a vacancy only applies to the Racine Unified School District and only until April 2016, when it sunsets;
  • Every school board must adopt a policy by July 1, 2016 on how the school board will fill a vacancy if the remaining school board members do not fill the vacancy within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first exists; and
  • A technical correction is made related to the current law requiring the Racine Unified School Board to redraw geographically apportioned seats after each decennial federal census.

While the WASB took a neutral stances on AB 325, the WASB views these changes as positive because they allow boards to develop their own policies to address vacancies rather than imposing a “one-size-fits-all” legislative mandate.

Note: The next regularly scheduled legislative floorperiod runs from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.  (The schedule of floorperiods is established by Senate Joint Resolution 1.)