Milwaukee Public Schools budget deficit looms

April 26, 2018

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) educators, administrators and school board members were unable to agree on a plan to close a projected $38.7 million budget deficit for the 2018-2019 school year during a seven-hour meeting on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The Milwaukee Public Schools system is the largest in the state with more than 75,000 students, many of whom come from low-income households and face a number of barriers to learning due to circumstances usually beyond their control.

The lack of consensus on how to address the growing deficit was frustrating for MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which noted that this will be her final proposed budget before Dr. Driver leaves in July for a new position in Detroit.

Dr. Driver has proposed a number of budget-cutting measures, including reducing student busing, cutting teacher pay and benefits and reducing per pupil spending at schools by five percent and the central office budget by 15 percent.

A number of teachers, parents and students who oppose the proposed cuts attended the April 17, 2018 meeting. Committee members took no action on busing cuts which supporters said would effectively re-establish a segregated school system because students from low-income households would be unable to attend higher performing specialty schools less than seven miles from their residence, according to one proposal.

Board members took no action on most of the budget proposals on April 17, 2018. The final proposed MPS budget is expected to be published the week of April 23, 2018.