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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

MPS Wants Community Input On How To Improve Schools

Emily Files
Marvin Pratt Elementary Teacher Lois Womack leads fourth and fifth graders in a reading lesson. Pratt is a highly-rated MPS school, and was highlighted at a press conference announcing a new community survey.

Do you have ideas about how to improve Milwaukee Public Schools? District leaders want to hear them.

MPS is asking residents to take an online survey and attend public listening sessions about what it takes to create ideal schools.  

The survey, which district officials say will be available in eight languages, is open until Sept. 12. It asks readers to rank the importance of things like small class sizes, school psychologists, and Advanced Placement classes. It also asks the open-ended question: "What would enhance the academic experience for MPS students?"

"While we can point to many areas of success, there are also areas that we can become even stronger," said MPS Superintendent Keith Posley at a press conference announcing the survey.

The survey and listening sessions stem from MPS Board Member Bob Peterson's proposal to develop a vision of the schools Milwaukee students deserve, and how much it would cost to make those improvements. Gathering public input is the first step toward creating that document. 

Credit Emily Files / WUWM
MPS Board Member Bob Peterson came up with the idea to develop a plan outlining the additional resources required to create "the schools our students deserve." The first step is gathering community input through an online survey and four public forums.

"What do our kids additionally need that they might not be getting now?" Peterson asked. "I know when I was in school, I had physical education every other day, a fulltime librarian, art, music. And I don’t think back then we even thought about big class sizes."

Class sizes and limited access to subjects like art and music are some of the concerns brought up during recent MPS budget hearings. Peterson first raised this idea during those budget discussions, amidst board members' frustration over limited funding. 

The board is considering a voter referendum to raise more money. But first, MPS is asking community members about their hopes to strengthen public education.

"This is definitely a bottom-up process where people, including people who have nothing to do with MPS, can give their opinions," Peterson said. "And the school board will have future hearings on what to do about that."

Superintendent Posley said as MPS leaders make decisions about priorities and budgeting, the public input will "help inform us on where we need to go and how to get there."

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Emily has been reporting on Milwaukee-area education for WUWM since 2018.
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