Milwaukee Public Schools is sending kids home with a survey asking parents to list their spending priorities, from 1 to 14, for upcoming budgets.
Principals need to finalize their school budgets by Thursday, which means the survey arrives a little late. However, the district does have time to alter budgets, as happened last year after education cuts arrived from Madison.
The administration is expected to bring a final budget to the board in April and the board is expected to vote on it in June.
Filling out the survey â€“ also available online to parents, community members and others â€“ is a challenging task. Not that it's difficult to follow or anything, but to ask parents whether it's more important for children to have access to lunch OR a nurse OR a reasonable class size is not easily answered.
Of course, MPS is in a zero-sum game and these are exactly the questions administration has to ask itself during the budget process.
Then there's the question of fairness. For many parents in the district â€“ this one included â€“ it's not simply a question of what one's own child needs. We don't ride the yellow bus to school, so should I rank it 14th even though I know many kids couldn't and might not get to school if transportation is cut? It's disingenuous â€“ maybe even uncivil â€“ for me to say it's the lowest priority for the district, just because it's the lowest priority for my child.
"We want to know the priorities of our community," Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton said in a news release announcing the survey today. "Cuts (at Central Services) would be painful, but we think they're needed to shield schools from as much pain as possible."
The release reads: "As it stands now, the Superintendent's budget proposal calls for a boost to art, music and physical education through new minimum standards for the number of specialist teachers in each school. That boost would be paid for through further cuts at MPS Central Services. The budget proposal also cal…Read more...