© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

MPS leaders react to close referendum result

MPS Superintendent Keith Posley thanks supporters of the MPS referendum at a press conference April 3.
Emily Files
/
WUWM
MPS Superintendent Keith Posley thanks supporters of the MPS referendum at a press conference April 3.

Voters on Tuesday approved a $252 million funding increase for Milwaukee Public Schools. The referendum was extremely close — with initial results showing 51% of votes in favor and 49% against.

Superintendent Keith Posley thanked voters at a press conference Wednesday. He said the referendum will prevent cuts to schools.

Posley acknowledged the cost — the referendum will raise property taxes by more than $400 on a $200,000 home.

"We do not take this investment from taxpayers lightly," Posley said. "We heard their feedback during the process, and we will work to include their feedback as we move forward."

There were well-funded campaigns on both sides of the referendum. The teachers’ union (Milwaukee Teachers Education Association) led the fight in favor, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce led the fight against.

Supporters of the referendum said it was necessary because state funding hasn't kept up with inflation. Opponents said MPS hadn't laid out a clear plan showing how the referendum would lead to better academic results.

Yard signs in support of the MPS referendum outside the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association office.
Emily Files
/
WUWM
Yard signs in support of the MPS referendum outside the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association office.

MPS Board President Marva Herndon criticized the campaign against the referendum, calling it "vicious" and "heartbreaking."

The referendum was also opposed by City Forward Collective, a group that advocates for "high-quality schools" in all sectors: public, charter and private.

City Forward President Colleston Morgan Jr. hopes the referendum result is a call to action for MPS.

"I think it sends a message that Milwaukeeans A) care deeply about their kids and B) recognize that business as usual can’t continue at any of our city schools, including MPS," Morgan said. "Eighty-five to 90% of our students across the city aren’t reading, writing or doing math at grade level."

MPS's Posley did speak directly to the referendum opponents during his press appearance.

"Today, I’m calling on those who opposed our referendum, those who stood opposed to providing our children with what they need — we are ready to work with you together to see what we can do to make sure that our children are successful," he said.

An MPS spokesperson said no special meetings in response to the referendum concerns are planned, but that the public is welcome to attend upcoming budget hearings and school board meetings.

Posley is expected to release his budget proposal for the 2024-2025 school year in late April. The MPS Board will then hold budget hearings and make amendments.

_

Emily is an editor and project leader for WUWM.
Related Content