ACTION ALERT: There is a public hearing this Wednesday on a fast-tracked new bill that would have a dramatic impact on public school library funding by transforming operations of the Common School Fund.
SENATE PUBLIC HEARING: Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection
The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:
Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 9:30 AM, Room 201 Southeast, State Capitol
Senate Bill 713: Relating to: the authority of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make trust fund loans and delegate authority to invest trust fund moneys, the use of common school fund income moneys, and making an appropriation. By Senators Stroebel and Craig; cosponsored by Representatives Hutton, R. Brooks, Katsma, Macco, Horlacher and Tusler.
The companion Assembly Bill 857, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
FROM OUR FRIENDS AT Citizen Advocates for Public Education:
Dear CAPE members and friends,
Some background information on school library funding –
School districts receive an annual distribution of earnings from the Common School Fund. These funds (commonly known as Library Aid) are used to purchase library books and other instructional materials. Managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), the Common School Fund was established by the Wisconsin Constitution in 1848 with the granting of about 1.5 million acres of land for educational purposes. The vast majority of these lands were sold to create the principal for a permanent school fund, with the earnings to be exclusively used to support and maintain common schools (now known as K-12 public schools) and their libraries. On average, the Common School Fund provides $32 million annually to Wisconsin school libraries.
What’s happening now?
Two bills – Senate Bill 713 and its companion bill Assembly Bill 857 – have been introduced that would end the Common School Fund as we know it and eliminate the BCPL loan program that benefits schools, towns, villages, technical colleges, CESAs, and public library systems. The bills would eliminate the requirement that schools spend Common School Fund disbursements on instructional materials, library books, or school library computers/software. They would also eliminate BCPL’s authority to make loans, the interest on which currently goes into the Common School Fund.
Why are we concerned?
The current structure has been working well since the founding of our State.
Over the past 10 years, the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan program has invested over $1 billion in communities throughout Wisconsin.
Distributions from the Common School Fund are often the only dollars available for school libraries to purchase materials.
What can you do if you are concerned?
Contact your state Senator or state Representative today and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 713 and Assembly Bill 857.
You can add one of the above concerns or any personal concerns of your own as talking points, or you can simply leave a message stating your opposition. The important thing is to make a phone call stating your request.
If you are not sure who your legislators are, you can look them up here: https://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/
You can also send an e-mail to your legislator. The email addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.
Sample e-mail to your Senator
Subject line: Please oppose Senate Bill 713
Dear Sen. ___________,
I am writing to ask you to oppose Senate Bill 713. The Common School Fund provides the funds for materials and services essential for our public school libraries. This structure has worked well for over 150 years and I ask you to maintain it. (This is just a sample text; feel free to use this or insert your own thoughts here.)
Sample e-mail to your Representative
Subject line: Please oppose Assembly Bill 857
Dear Rep. ________________,
I am writing to ask you to oppose Assembly Bill 857. (Include your text here.)
Please contact your legislators today. Then share this information with others who might be concerned about this issue and encourage them to contact their legislators. If you have questions, please respond to this e-mail.
Thank you in advance for taking action on this important issue!
Citizen Advocates for Public Education