Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Keith Posley said COVID cases were growing weekly, disruptive bus system students, school failures, and, by the end, nearly 4,000 students.
Last week, he came up with something brighter: using federal stimulus dollars to help the county return to $ 500 million and possibly regain the families it left behind. The plan will take a number of steps, from immunization incentives to violent education to glittering sports facilities.
Many ideas – such as mental health services, complementary foods and essential water sources – are widely supported. However, some argue that MPS is not able to include families in decision-making and could waste more than one-third of the district’s annual budget.
“Satisfaction culture is real,” said Aisha Carr, a school board member who called for more input from students, parents and community organizations. We are not doing all we can.
The Board of Education may approve the plan by the beginning of October 7 with the changes it has chosen, and full board approval may be made on October 14.
MPS , Like districts across the country, is receiving three rounds of funding under the ESSER Primary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. MPS is available from many districts because the rates are mostly based on how many students in the district come from low-income families.
MPS has already allocated funding for the first two rounds. Third, $ 504 million, funded by the U.S. Rescue Plan, comes with the requirements for consulting with vulnerable families before making cost decisions.
In a district of about 70,000 students, MPS received survey responses from 140 students and 960 parents, with the highest response rates coming from most white neighborhoods.
Caring for well-being and self-confidence by providing survey data that does not represent even 5% of our total enrollment is extremely frustrating, Car said. This means that we still do not find a way to communicate with our most frustrated students, families, and teachers.
Administrators told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that they conducted seven student listening sessions in 152 schools in the district, reaching 163 students. They also held community meetings with at least 26 students and guardians in attendance. And they have invited 33 community groups to three stakeholder meetings. Some groups came up with ideas.
Posley administrators say they have done their best to reach families during the summer.
“Have we failed? We tried too hard because I can’t say we failed, ”said Posle.
Community members can still provide input by completing the online survey, contacting school board members, or registering to speak at the October 7 strategic planning and budget committee meeting.
MoreMilwaukee Public Schools still faces significant challenges, but with the start of the new school year, cash flow and community assistance are promising signs.
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Where does MPS plan to spend $ 500 million?
The money has a few strings attached and can be used for almost anything. However, the most challenging is that the money must be used within three years, which will prepare the district for any future expenses.
Many agree that the most important thing that teachers say is impossible in many classrooms right now is to hire more staff and reduce class sizes.
But that sets the budget limit – if the district spends money to bring in more workers, it could be forced to resign within three years.
As a result, managers are mostly focused on building, technology, training, covide costs, and short-term support investments.
According to administrators, about a quarter of the funding goes to facilities and repairs, while smaller units go to technology, extracurricular activities, health initiatives and more learning opportunities.
$ 129 million for utilities, maintenance
In the larger expenditure category, administrators are proposing $ 68 million for improvements and additions to 152 schools in the district, which are 80 years old. Certain projects have not yet been selected but may include libraries, STEM labs, or basic repairs.
School board president Bob Peterson said the money could be used to install air conditioning and temperature control in some schools, especially with a $ 45 million pot. Only 17% of MPS buildings have air conditioning in all rooms.
Over $ 68 million, other ideas include:
- $ 15 million for outdoor classrooms and work on windows, doors, carpets and air purifiers.
- $ 10 million for school supplies.
- $ 5.5 million to replace drinking water dispensers.
- $ 300,000 to hire a energy project professional to work on energy conservation and environmental projects.
$ 93 million for technology
As the district expects more instruction on virtual platforms, administrators have proposed spending $ 20 million on new Chromebooks and hot data plans. Another $ 15.6 million will go to another classroom technology, including virtual reality sets.
Due to high demand on the district’s Internet, administrators want to spend $ 15.2 million to upgrade fiber optic cables. They also want to spend $ 4.7 million on new staff and virtual programs licenses and subscriptions to help implement and maintain technology.
Other ideas include:
- $ 4 million for technology in halls and multi-purpose rooms.
- $ 3.4 million to support students and parents to learn English.
- $ 1.6 million for handicrafts.
- $ 1.5 million for digital signage.
- $ 1 million to expand eSports program for all students in grades 6-12.
- $ 500,000 in resources to teach in many languages.
$ 92 million for education, curriculum, teacher training
The plague left many students in school. The percentage of MPS high school students who dropped one or more classes last fall is about 12 percent from last year. MPS did not respond to a request for spring.
Administrators have suggested that $ 12 million be spent on the use of a virtual program to help students earn course credits for graduation. It also offered $ 10 million to pay current and new staff for teaching students, and $ 7.5 million for additional hours, including sign language interpreters and paramedics.
MPS is expanding career and college readiness opportunities, including certified auxiliary courses at four high schools, and cosmetology courses at the Barack Obama Vocational School. In addition, $ 1.8 million will help high school students take UWM and MATC courses, including nursing and special education programs.
Additional ideas include:
- $ 21 million for staff training and the new curriculum, including $ 4 million for retreat.
- Schools to spend $ 10 million with families through family school kits, parent seminars, monthly activities and other access.
- $ 8.5 million in project-based education, including teachers, training, materials, and curriculum, for the district’s new Gee innovation laboratories.
- $ 3.5 million for academic programs in summer, summer and weekends.
- $ 3 million to expand “Community Schools” partnership with Wayway, which currently works with 15 MPS schools to address employee discrimination, resolve student conflicts, and involve families in policy decisions.
- $ 2.2 million for additional library staff, books and pop-up mobile libraries.
- $ 1.6 million for college tours and field trips, including $ 300,000 for virtual field trips.
$ 73 million for further education curriculum
Sports programs could cost up to $ 26 million to improve athletic facilities. Administrators have proposed upgrading new baseball fields, pools to competition quality, renaming school halls and locker rooms, upgrading tennis fields, flyers, and replacing sound systems in all high school gyms.
He also proposed investing $ 900,000 in live broadcasts and video game boards. It provides $ 350,000 for athletes. And $ 80,000 to buy two vans packed with student athletes’ photos.
He proposed $ 10 million in small grants to support other extracurricular activities, new clubs, and extracurricular activities such as engineering, arts, horse riding or skiing.
Other plans include:
- $ 18 million for after-school transportation.
- $ 4 million for staff to serve students with special needs at school sites.
- $ 1 million for ACT / SAT prep, job search and college application support.
- $ 1.7 million to expand MPS driver education program.
- $ 1 million for one night of field trips for students in grades 4-8.
- $ 700,000 for summer course in business skills.
- $ 300,000 to start a life skills program.
$ 62 million for health
Some of the money goes specifically for COVID-19 prevention, with $ 6.5 million for protective equipment such as masks and $ 3 million to help recruit nurses in a relationship search. Administrators reimburse tuition for nurses who provide MPS for three years.
Another $ 6.9 million will be provided by the district’s new immunization officers to support staff and students. The MPS must address special requests for staff with medical or religious reasons for verification of immunization status and regular screening. And MPS is offering $ 100 for each student who gets the vaccine.
Other ideas reflect at least some of the effects of the epidemic, from mental health to food security. Many student groups and students who spoke during board meetings requested additional mental health services.
Administrators have proposed $ 7.1 million to expand partnerships with local agencies to provide school-based medical care and therapy. Another $ 4.1 million will employ five new MPS psychologists, five social workers and five counselors, as well as counseling services in community education centers and summer camps.
Other plans aim to reduce restrictions and expulsions by providing additional counseling and emotional support. It expands the district’s Black and Latino Male Success Unit of $ 3.3 million and launches new for female and LGBTQIA + students. And $ 4.5 million to help schools teach socio-emotional skills and implement rehabilitation practices to resolve conflicts.
Administrators have suggested that $ 4.6 million be used to improve the quality of food and feed more families, including upgrading the district’s central kitchen for $ 4.6 million. Funds are also used for kitchen “stop, catch and walk” stations, summer meal programs and classes.
Other ideas include:
- $ 2.3 million academic and counseling program for students who are suspended or excluded for behavior reasons due to the virtual expansion of Success Center.
- $ 2 million for Covi-related emergency leave.
- $ 500,000 for community fitness centers in schools.
- $ 700,000 to expand violence-free zones.
- $ 400,000 for communications and marketing.
The MPS Strategic Plan and Budget Committee plans to meet again on October 7 to consider changes made by school board members before the plan is transferred to the full school board on October 14.
Contact Rory Linnane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @RoryLinnane.