September 2, 2014

Officials urge customers to ‘shop smart’ for back-to-school

School supplies

School supplies

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) offers up tips for back-to-school shopping, so you’ll get your money’s worth. Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator with the agency, says the most important thing to remember is that Wisconsin law requires stores to charge the lowest advertised price.

“If there is an overcharge and your item rings up at the register higher than that lowest advertised price, the store is required by law to refund you that overcharged amount.”

It’s always a good idea to watch as the clerk is ringing up the items, she says, but also check your receipts closely. That’s why it’s so important, Chalmers says, to take copies of the ads with you to the store … so you have proof of the sale price. If you do see a discrepancy, take it up with management right then and there. She says it’s the quickest way to resolve the issue.

Despite the warnings, Chalmers says Wisconsin businesses are really good at charging consumers the advertised prices. “Our inspectors consistently find that about 99 percent of the time in Wisconsin shoppers are charged the accurate price. So you can have a high degree of confidence at the cash register.”

A recent national survey found that the average family spends nearly $690 on K-12 back-to-school shopping, so it’s important to account for every penny spent. The majority of back to school spending goes toward clothing, and then electronics, followed by school supplies.

Before visiting a store, make sure to closely review the company’s advertisements for restrictions involving quantities, returns or rain checks. Customers can report pricing errors to state or local inspectors. To file a weights and measures complaint with DATCP’s Weights and Measures Bureau, send an e-mail  or call the office at 608-224-4942.

UW-Platteville ready for students, 2 months after tornadoes touch down

UW Platteville tornado damage (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

UW Platteville tornado damage (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

There’s a lot of progress in the recovery effort after two tornadoes hit the UW-Platteville campus on the night of June 16th, causing at least $10 million worth of damage. “The campus, I’m pleased to say, is ready for the students. We’re not done. It’s an important distinction. The goal is to be ready,” says Rob Cramer, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services at the university.

The big challenge is Pioneer stadium and all the debris. Cramer says there’s a mixture of rock and glass strewn about the landscaping. He says school officials sought advice from other colleges that had experienced similar issues. “One of those institutions had removed 90 percent of the sod and top soil in the area where they had debris and that was about 15 years ago. They regret not having done 100 percent because they’re still getting people with lacerations in those areas.”

Pioneer Stadium at UW Platteville is damaged after tornadoes storm through the campus. (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

Pioneer Stadium at UW Platteville is damaged after tornadoes storm through the campus. (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

University officials are working with the insurance company to get 100 percent remediation, he says, so they won’t have to be dealing with cuts in the future from remaining shards of glass.  Some students have already moved into dorms unaffected by the storm. The official move-in day is this Friday.

UW-Platteville officials addressed the UW System Board at their meeting in Oshkosh last Friday, 22nd.

On June 16th, two tornadoes damaged three residence halls, the engineering building, the stadium, and took out 1,000 very old trees in the 57-acre memorial park. The Pioneer Stadium turf was scheduled to be removed this past weekend, with the new turf installation beginning this week. The completion date is early to mid-September.

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross and UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields will hold a press conference and grand re-opening of campus on Friday, Aug. 29 at 11:30 a.m. in the back patio of Engineering Hall.


UW Platteville photo gallery of storm damage.

UW Board approves $95 million request

UW System President Raymond Cross

UW System President Raymond Cross

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approves a request for an additional $95 million in the next two-year state budget. 

The Regents unanimously approve the funding request even though Governor Scott Walker had warned all state agencies against asking for any more tax dollars in the 2015-2017 state budget.

In defense of their $95 million request, UW System President Ray Cross says the growth of Wisconsin’s economy is on the university’s shoulders. “I think it’s important that we make our case. This economy cannot grow any faster — any faster — without more talent. It just cannot grow.”

Meeting at the Oshkosh campus, Cross says we have a talent gap and it’s holding back our economy. He says tax dollars are needed to help pay for the school’s new Talent Development Initiative, to broaden the nature and readiness of Wisconsin’s talent base.

AUDIORay Cross says the vision for the future of the UW System should “challenge us to think big” and might even “scare us.” 1:12

The creation of jobs, Cross says, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Wisconsin. “Just creating jobs is not enough. We need to create high-impact jobs, jobs that increase personal growth, quality of life, and social and economic opportunity. But perhaps most importantly … jobs that create other jobs.”

The UW also needs to boost the numbers of graduates while reducing the time to receive a degree, officials say, and the 26 campuses need to preserve academic quality in the face of another tuition freeze. 

Cross is confident with his request, saying UW officials have been meeting regularly with legislators and the governor’s office. State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) is chairman of the Assembly higher education committee. Based on those discussions he generally supports the request for more money, according to Mike Mikalsen, research assistant and policy advisor with Nass’ office.

Governor Walker says it’s too soon to say whether the request is something he’d support. “I gotta get through an election before I even get a chance to present another budget. The only promises that I’ve made about the University of Wisconsin System is that I will continue the freeze on tuition.”

AUDIO: Walker expresses the importance of the tuition freeze. :11

Regents say at some point, they’ll need to have a discussion about raising out-of-state tuition.

UW Regents contemplate requesting $95 million in state budget


University of Wisconsin System

The UW Board of Regents could decide today whether to ask for another $95 million in the next two-year state budget.

University of Wisconsin System officials say they need more tax dollars to help pay for the school’s new Talent Development Initiative, to create new STEM-related jobs — science, technology, engineering, and math.

The UW also says it needs to boost the numbers of graduates while reducing the time to receive a degree. Officials also want to maintain the quality of academic instruction and research in the UW System.

Officials say the 26 campuses need to preserve academic quality, in the face of another tuition freeze. Governor Scott Walker had told state agencies last month not to expect any increase in tax funding in the next budget that he’d propose in February — if he gets re-elected this fall. 

The Regents meet Thursday at the Oshkosh campus. They’re scheduled to take up the budget in the afternoon.

Wisconsin ACT scores and participation increase

dpilogoWisconsin continues to have the nation’s second-best scores on the ACT college entrance exam.

Figures released by the state Department of Public Instruction on Wednesday show an average composite score of 22.2 for Wisconsin high school seniors, out of a possible 36. That is up from a composite score of 22.1 last year, but still behind top-spot Minnesota’s composite of 22.9.

The ACT is the predominant college entrance exam used in the Midwest, while schools on the east and west coasts mainly use the SAT test.

The ACT also released benchmark scores that would give students a 75 percent chance of getting a “C” or better in college courses, and a 50 percent chance for a “B.” One of every five Wisconsin high school grads in May failed to reach any of the benchmarks on the exam. While 75 percent met or surpassed benchmarks in English — only around half did the same in reading, math, and science. However, at least ten-percent of the students were just a point or two short in reading and science.

The number of Wisconsin students taking the ACT has grown immensely, with 73 percent of the Class-of-2014 taking the test. The state is requiring it for all public high school students starting next year.