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Common School Fund for Public School District Libraries

WEMTA Members 2017 holding check to Public School Libraries
Wisconsin Education Media and Technology Association board members surround Secretary of State Douglas La Follette (left ) and Executive Secretary Jonathan Barry (center) present $32.1 million in Common School Fund earnings to Assistant State Superintendent Kurt Kiefer (left), Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for public school district libraries.


The State Superintendent’s Digital Learning Advisory Council (DLAC), which includes representation from the Wisconsin Education Media and Technology Association (WEMTA) leadership team and district library media specialists, provides guidance to the Department regarding digital learning in Wisconsin schools. Since 2011, the State Superintendent’s Digital Learning Plan, written by DLAC, has provided key guidance on innovative programming, professional learning support, automated services and high quality resources delivered by school library media specialists and technology integration specialists that extends beyond the physical walls of our school library media center walls, classrooms and school buildings. The Common School Fund program aligns to the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan’s strategic goal of providing equitable services and resources to all staff and students.

The Wisconsin DPI continues to include key strategic partners in the review process of updating Common School Fund guidance on purchasing and programming.  Representation for this process includes: Wisconsin Education Media and Technology Association (WEMTA), Wisconsin Education Technology Leaders (WETL), the Wisconsin Association of School Board (WASB), Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA), Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA), Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO), WI State Superintendent Digital Learning Advisory Council (DLAC), Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND), the State Treasurer’s Office, the Board of the Commissioners of Public Lands, CESA’s.

This Fund is as old as Wisconsin. The framers of our state Constitution established this permanent “school fund” and required that its income be applied exclusively “to the support and maintenance of common [public K-12] schools … and the purchase of suitable libraries and apparatus therefor.” Board of Commissioners of Public Lands Common School Fund Information.

Wisconsin Statute 43.70(3) provides that money generated by the Common School Fund be used for the purchase of library books and other instructional materials for school libraries and for the purchase of instructional materials from the state historical society for use in teaching Wisconsin history. In addition, a school district may use Common School Funds received in a fiscal year to purchase school library computers and related software if the school board consults with the person who supervises the school district’s libraries and the computers and software are housed in the school library. The person who supervises the school libraries is the district’s designated certified library media coordinator as per Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 8.01(2)(h).

Statutory criteria for purchasing includes:

  • Purchases are limited to instructional media and computers
  • Purchased for the school library media program
  • Items are purchased by the district after consultation with the DPI licensed media specialist

All purchases shall be made after consultation with the school library media specialist as aligned to the district's library media plan.  All Common School Fund purchased materials shall be universally accessible to all students and staff within the respective school building.