MPS asks families, community members to share spending priorities in budget survey

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton is inviting parents and community members to share their spending priorities through an online budget survey now available on the district website.

Those who take the survey will be asked to, among other things, share the value they see in programs the district provides for children outside of core instructional subjects. The listing of programs on the survey does not mean they are targeted for cuts.

“We want to know the priorities of our community,” Dr. Thornton said.

The Superintendent is seeking community input as the district prepares its budget for the 2012-13 school year. The survey, which will be open through February 10, is available now on the “Building the Budget” page ( at Community members can fill out the survey in English or Spanish and principals have been given the option of asking for paper copies for parents unable to access the electronic version.

Survey-takers have the option of asking the Superintendent a question about the budget or the budget process. Dr. Thornton will post answers on the budget website to some of the most frequently-asked questions as the process moves forward.

As it stands now, the Superintendent’s budget proposal calls for a boost to art, music and physical education through new minimum standards for the number of specialist teachers in each school. That boost would be paid for through further cuts at MPS Central Services.

“Those cuts would be painful, but we think they’re needed to shield schools from as much pain as possible,” Dr. Thornton said.

The budget proposal also calls for greater efficiency through centrally funding services such as safety and special education.

Total school operations spending for 2012-13 is expected to be roughly in line with the current year spending of roughly $944 million.

School budgets for next year will be impacted by increased fixed costs, such as utilities, along with some increased employee costs including a contractual 3% raise for teachers, who are the district’s largest group of employees.

MPS is beginning to see savings from changes made in the fall to employee benefits, but the bulk of those savings are expected to come beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

The Superintendent is scheduled to provide his complete budget proposal for 2012-13 in an April 2012 session of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. The Board will review and discuss the proposal and is expected to pass a 2012-13 budget in June.