ORDER OF THE
STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
ADOPTING EMERGENCY RULES
The scope statement for this rule, SS 019-20, was published in Register No. 772A2, on April 13, 2020, and approved by State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor on April 24, 2020. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction hereby adopts an order to amend s. PI 17.03 (2) (d), relating to expanding virtual summer and interim session courses.
ANALYSIS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Statute interpreted: s. 121.14, Stats.
Explanation of agency authority:
The department is given rulemaking authority to establish criteria for summer and interim session classes under s. 121.14 (1) (a), Stats.:
121.14 State aid for summer classes and interim session classes.
(a) State aid shall be paid to each district or county children with disabilities education board for all of the following:
1. Subject to par. (b), those academic summer classes or laboratory periods that are for necessary academic purposes, as defined by the state superintendent by rule.
Related statute or rule: N/A
Plain language analysis:
The objective of the emergency rule is to expand the grade levels in which school districts and county children with disabilities education boards may receive state aid in providing virtual instruction during summer and interim session courses, as necessitated by the COVID-19 emergency.
Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal regulations:
Summary of any public comments and feedback on the statement of scope for the proposed rule that the agency received at a preliminary public hearing and comment period held and a description of how and to what extent the agency took those comments into account and drafting the proposed rule:
The Department held a preliminary public hearing and comment period on April 23, 2020, and received comments on the statement of scope for the proposed rule. A brief summary of comments and the Department’s response to those comments are as follows:
The respondents in favor of the emergency rule note the extensive amount of work that schools have been undertaking in trying to meet social, emotional, and academic needs of students through distance learning during the COVID-19 emergency. They believe that the emergency rule would go a long way in extending options to school districts seeking to offer summer learning opportunities for students in all grade levels. The emergency rule provides a safe and effective means to address learning loss and achievement gaps due to school closures, maintain continuity in educational programming, and prepare students for when the next school year begins. This would be extremely helpful especially for school districts in the state that are experiencing higher concentrations of COVID-19 infections.
Agency Response: The Department agrees and forwarded these comments to program staff for consideration during the rulemaking process.
A few respondents in favor of the emergency rule request consideration for expanding the emergency rule to permit school districts to receive state aid by providing virtual instruction for enrichment and credit-bearing courses, in addition to instruction that is necessary for academic purposes, during the summer and interim session. Amending the rule to include enrichment courses would provide additional supports for school districts trying to meet the social and emotional needs of students and their families.
Agency Response: The comments were forwarded to program staff for their consideration.
Some respondents request similar flexibility for school districts seeking to provide virtual instruction all year round in the event that a second wave of COVID-19 infections takes place.
Agency Response: The rule under consideration only permits school districts and county children with disabilities education boards to receive state aid for virtual instruction for additional grades for the period of time established for emergency rules by law. However, school districts are permitted under ch. PI 8 to schedule hours of direct instruction to include instructional programming offered through innovative instructional designs that apply to the entire school or grade level, which includes instructional programming aligned to school district standards and offered in a virtual setting.
One respondent requested consideration for providing similar funding flexibilities for school districts that run a food service program for students and families in the summer.
Agency Response: The request is outside the scope of the proposed rule. However, the comments were forwarded to program staff for their consideration.
One respondent requested that this funding flexibility be extended to charter schools in addition to school districts and county children with disabilities education boards.
Agency Response: State statutes only permit state aid to be paid to school districts and county children with disabilities education board for those academic summer classes or laboratory periods that are for necessary academic purposes. Therefore, the request is outside the scope of the proposed rule.
One respondent opposed to the emergency rule indicated opposition for the following reasons: 1) employing school boards may see the expansion of virtual learning in a summer school session as a method of requiring school employees to work beyond the 2019-20 school year potentially without additional compensation; 2) the scope statement appears to be in conflict with the waiver of instructional hours many districts have received or are currently pursuing; and 3) whether it’s during the regular school year or in summer school, virtual learning is unproven and not equal to the full school experience students receive in their school building.