Wisconsin threatens to withhold millions from Milwaukee Public Schools



(The Center Square) – Milwaukee Public Schools are facing a second possible funding suspension, this time over missing state financial reports.

MPS Superintendent Keith Posley said Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction is threatening to withhold millions of dollars in general state aid and special education money because the city’s school district has not yet turned in financial reports that were due as far back as September.

Milwaukee’s school board issued a statement Wednesday that said board members are aware of the threat from DPI and is working to avoid losing any money.

“On Friday, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors received a letter from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. We are aware of the matter and are working closely with DPI and multiple stakeholders to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” the statement read. “We are committed to ensuring all requested information is submitted in a timely manner. The board remains committed to its obligations to our students, their families and the people of Milwaukee. We take this matter seriously and we are confident that we will be able to course correct promptly.”

Specifically, MPS is late with its annual report and audits for the last school year, and its certified budget for the current school year.

DPI’s letter says the city’s school district must submit a “corrective action plan” that lays out how it will complete all the missing reports, and “ensure” that MPS meets future deadlines,

“Not only are many required reports incredibly late, MPS has demonstrated a pattern of submitting incomplete data, as well as requesting data changes without having the required documentation for the request,” DPI Deputy State Superintendent John Johnson said in the letter.

DPI said if MPS fails to follow through, the state may withhold June’s state aid payment. Last year that payment was almost $16 million.

MPS’ missing reports could not just harm Milwaukee schools, DPI says if it doesn’t have MPS’ information by July every school in the state could get less money because the calculation for state aid will be off.

The funding threats come just weeks after both state and federal officials agreed to suspend MPS’ Head Start funding for the rest of May.

That decision came after reports of neglect and abuse within Milwaukee’s Head Start program. In that case as well, MPS failed to provide required corrective action reports on the program.

And the possible loss of funding comes as Milwaukee’s school board gets ready to vote on a new $1.5 billion school budget.

That budget includes nearly 300 job cuts, about half of which are teaching positions.

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