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MPS board approves $1.5 billion proposed budget, corrective action plan during financial crisis

MPS board members discussed a $1.5 billion proposed budget during a meeting Thursday.
Milwaukee Public Schools
MPS board members discussed a $1.5 billion proposed budget during a meeting Thursday.

The Milwaukee School Board approved a $1.5 billion proposed budget for next school year at a special board meeting Thursday night despite protests from community members who are upset about recently-revealed financial issues.

MPS Board member Darryl Jackson was the only one to vote against approval of the budget. Jackson said MPS hasn’t taken full accountability for its financial mistakes.

"If I’m wrong, I can admit I’m wrong," said Jackson. "I don’t think administration in no capacity just has done that. Just saying ‘I’m wrong, I messed up’ — that does a lot."

MPS has been under fire for being months late in submitting required financial reports, and for submitting inaccurate financial information to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The DPI has withheld millions of dollars from MPS because of it.

In a statement, DPI said all future aid payments are contingent upon MPS’ implementation of a corrective action plan. The school board approved the corrective action plan at Thursday’s meeting and announced that Chief Financial Officer Martha Kreitzman retired. On June 4, former superintendent Keith Posley resigned from his position following public outcry.

But the calls for change haven’t stopped with Posley’s departure. During an hours-long public hearing Thursday, speakers were split on who should remain on the board and how it should manage the proposed budget. Teacher Angela Harris called on the board to wait.

"Who benefits exactly today from passing this budget," said Harris. "This is not a moment for business as usual or to appease the normal power brokers. This is a moment that requires you as a boats to do something different."

MPS student Grayson McNaughton joined the Milwaukee teachers’ union in urging the board to pass the budget.

"Kids like me cannot go to school if there is no money," McNaughton said. "That’s why we need the budget passed."
The proposed budget includes a tax hike for Milwaukee residents. Voters narrowly approved the increase through a referendum in April — before MPS’s financial shortcomings came to light. Even with the referendum money, the MPS budget includes cuts like the loss of nearly 300 full-time positions.

The board will be able to make changes to the budget, as more information about the consequences of MPS’s accounting mistakes becomes clear.


Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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