MILWAUKEE – Revenues are down for Milwaukee Public Schools, so officials are forced to prioritize spending on the most important things.
Apparently, that includes a new $471,073 expenditure for “Black Lives Matter,” according to News Talk 1130, which posted a copy of the district’s official budget notice published in Wednesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The proposal does not specify why exactly MPS needs to spend $471,073 on Black Lives Matter, but it is interesting that the district plans to spend nearly as much on this organization as it plans to spend on College Access Centers, Universal Driver Education, and Advanced Studies and World Languages,” the news site pointed out.
“This budget reflects our plan to succeed,” MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver said earlier this week when she announced the budget, which also includes $12 million in raises, and a $26.6 million increase in “direct spending on students in the classroom,” the Journal Sentinel reports.
“It is a blueprint for building on past accomplishments and funding future achievement,” she said.
Other elements of the “blueprint” include added staff at a district-associated refugee center, 189 new positions in schools – from educational assistants to added administrators to “teacher coaches” – as well as more counselors and “trauma informed care training for staff,” according to the news site.
“The 2016-’17 budget reflects a $7.7 million increase in general per-pupil aid, but a $11.2 million drop in local taxing authority, according to the district. MPS will divert about $2.1 million in levying authority for construction projects to cover a portion of that, but it will be left with a $1.3 million cut in revenue,” the Journal Sentinel reports.
District officials are expected to hold a meeting about the proposed budget on May 24 at the central offices downtown. Currently, Milwaukee taxpayers spend more than $10 per $1,000 of assessed property value, but officials are unsure how the school budget will impact taxes until after it receives state aid data this fall.
And while it’s unclear what exactly MPS plans to do with the half-million it plans to spend on Black Lives Matter, blogger Larry Miller outlined a Black Lives Matter resolution he introduced to the MPS board along with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Robert Smith that would set broad objectives schools should strive for.
The resolution, which Miller said he hopes will be up for public discussion at a May 21 Student Achievement and School Improvement committee meeting, calls on district officials to “create an advisory council—of community, parents, educators, and students– to assist in reviewing, strengthening and creating curriculum and policy related to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, the efforts to derail the school-to-prison pipeline, the broader historical experience of the Black community and present schooling experience,” according to Miller’s blog, Educate All Students.
It also requests that lessons “include discussions of biases, racial micro-aggressions, school-wide data on race and discipline, fears, cultural ignorance and stereotypes of Black youth” and lead to “training of school staffs in methods of de-escalation, mindfulness, creating a culture of trust and cultural relevance.”
Many folks who commented about the MPS budget on Facebook, however, clearly think school officials could find better uses for taxpayer dollars.
Teresa Soper pointed out the district’s “61% graduation rate announced for 2016.”
“Perhaps MPS should focus more on actual education like reading and spelling and math than these feel good social justice issues,” Jan Rzepinski added. “Indoctrination of our children will NOT help them succeed in the real world.”
“I have a problems with this,” Marie Pier wrote, “white lives matter too.”