MPS budget meeting: ‘We will be bankrupt in a year and a half'

The schools have an expected $30 million deficit.

A heated school board meeting took place Tuesday night for Milwaukee Public Schools as the district works to finalize a budget for next school year.

The meeting drew larger than normal crowds, requiring the district to provide at least two overflow rooms.

Many of the attendees were teachers and members of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association.

The school board is exploring a number of options to balance the budget for next year where there is an expected $30 million deficit.

But there is also concern among some members of the board and the administration about future years.

"We will be bankrupt in about a year and a half," said MPS Member at Large Terry Falk. "After that we will be closing schools, laying off teachers and we will be cutting wages and benefits in order to survive."

One of the options being considered is making changes to employee healthcare benefits that include increasing co-pays and requiring working spouses of employees to use their own employer-sponsored healthcare and not the school district's plan.

"I’m already spending money on snacks for my students, buying extra clothes, underwear, coats, socks all out of my own pocket," said Angela Harris who is a kindergarten teacher at an MPS school. "And then to be told there’s no money for me, how am I supposed to survive?"

"We are going to have to make some serious changes to our healthcare," said MPS Board Vice President Larry Miller. "We have to find ways to save money. We have a serious deficit and I don’t think people are quite getting that yet."

Another proposal involves eliminating school bus transportation for close to 1,000 students of specialty schools within the district.

The budget is still being finalized and everything discussed on Tuesday will go into the development of the budget, which will be presented to the full board in early May.
 

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