MPS skeptical of plan to help 'failing' schools

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 20:38:50-04

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent Darienne Driver on Tuesday gave an incomplete grade to a proposal from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on how to raise performance levels of struggling schools.

The proposal comes in response to a new state law which grants the County Executive the authority to supervise and manage the 53 MPS schools identified by the state as "failing." MPS is looking at alternative ways to address these challenges, including through a more community based school model, which "increase a school’s capacity to better engage and align partnerships centered on the self-identified, real-time priorities of schools and communities," says the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.

"One of the issues facing troubling schools is reading proficiency and it's below average for MPS and below average for the state," Melissa Baldauff, spokeswoman for County Executive Chris Abele, told TODAY'S TMJ4. "We're happy to talk with [the MPS School Board] about [its] concerns," she added.

The state legislature created the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP), and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law. County Executive Chris Abele appointed Mequon-Thiensville superintendent Demond Means as commissioner. Together they're proposing working with MPS to convert at least one "failing" school in 2016-2017 school year into a community school type model. They are also promising that MPS teachers will keep their jobs and benefits there.

"I think it's more about any partnership we go into, you want to know what it is you're signing up for, Driver tells TODAY'S TMJ4. "We have a tremendous responsibility, one that we are privileged to have in terms of shaping the lives of young people in this city and we're responsible for their wellbeing every single day."

MPS has until June 23 to formally respond to the proposal.

This story has been updated to correct that the state legislature created the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP), and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law.