Approved MPS budget brings 45 more art, music, physical education, librarian positions into schools

Builds upon boost in place for 2012-13; Board approved 2013-14 spending plan Tuesday night

MILWAUKEE – The 2013-14 Milwaukee Public Schools budget approved Tuesday night continues to invest in classrooms and will bring 45 additional art, music and physical education teacher and librarian positions into MPS schools.

Art will see the biggest boost between 2012-13 and the upcoming 2013-14 school year under the plan, growing by about 25 full-time teaching positions. Most K-5 and K-8 schools across the district will see funding for art, music and physical education teachers double.

The move, which builds upon an art/music/physical education boost put in place for the current 2012-13 school year, is consistent with what students deserve and what parents list as their priorities. Parents have ranked more art/music/physical education specialist teachers as a top priority in the district’s budget survey for two straight years.

Overall spending in the budget passed by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors – including school operations, grant funds, building expenses and Milwaukee Recreation – is now set to fall 2% to $1,170,867,945 in 2013-14 from $1,194,450,752 in 2012-13.

The proposed budget also continues implementation of the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which set clear expectations for what students learn in each content area and grade level, through the district’s comprehensive literacy and math/science plans.

“I’m proud to say we’ve made the largest possible investment in our children,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “We are continuing to improve the standard of care in schools across our district.“

Other highlights of the budget proposal include:

–      Implementing the College Board’s SpringBoard pre-AP program in five schools
–      Planned expansion of the academically successful International Baccalaureate program
–      Creation of an additional arts-focused elementary school option on the northwest side
–      Redesign of Bay View Middle and High School to develop a high-achieving academic program
–      Approval of four new charter schools, bringing the total number of non-instrumentality charter            schools to 16

The budget also builds upon efforts already underway, including:

–      Continued effort to give academically-successful schools room to grow
–      Expansion of programming at District Parent Resource Centers
–      Additional Response to Intervention efforts to provide support for students struggling academically
–      Revamped Gifted and Talented programs
–      Expansion of Learning Journeys, MPS’ exclusive beyond-the-classroom learning experiences, to more grade levels

The district hoped to further enhance the standard of care and further reduce class size. But the state’s initial biennial budget proposal, which was the basis for the MPS budget, holds per-student spending for schools flat and would likely reduce the reimbursement rate for students with disabilities. That challenges the district’s ability to achieve its goals at the level MPS desires and our children deserve. MPS will continue to advocate on behalf of the children the district serves and is committed to finding ways to reduce class size, as this is a key element in improving student performance.

Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving more than 78,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. MPS is home to the Milwaukee region’s two best high schools according to the Washington Post and three of state’s 25 best high schools according to U.S. News and World Report. In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 14 points higher than the rate for 2000. More MPS news is available at