One of the legacies of outgoing MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton will be the re-centralization of many items previously included in individual school budgets (aka "board budgets").
Over the past few years, the district has removed some items from school budgets and gone back to funding them centrally. Things like long-term disability and maternity leaves are no longer paid for out of individual school budgets, for example.
A year ago, the district removed the required principal and school secretary from school-level budgets and added a .2 (one day a week) bookkeeper. And funding for special education teachers was also centralized.
This budget season (FY15), Title I (high poverty) and Title I Targeted Assistance (some poverty) schools are getting two new centralized positions (for the upcoming school year). One is a 30-hour paraprofessional to boost parent engagement at every MPS school.
Another is a School Support Teacher, who will work to coordinate assessments (tests, that is), plan assessment-related professional development for school staff and do mentoring work with teachers in the classroom. This position, I hear, will more resemble that of an implementer than that of a curriculum generalist, which was an administrative position.
Two more adults in each building will be very good news indeed.
While specific schools have found that some re-centralized lines have been a boon, the effects may be mixed in other buildings.
For example, if a school had a building engineer go out on long-term disability before the re-centralization, the budget there took a hit because the school had to pay for two engineers (the one who was out and the replacement). That no longer happens, which is a plus.
But as items become funded centrally, the per-pupil funding to the schools drops (it is currently at about $3,900) and, if your school isn't facing a long-term leave, the deal might sound less attractive.
As my colleague Jay Bullock notes, school safety has been centralized for two years now, giving administration greater flexibility to move personnel to hotspots but undercutting relationships safety aides build with students in a school – a plus and a minus.
With re-centralization, special education teachers are assigned based on the number of students with IEPs in a school. In some cases that led to a school gaining a teacher. But, there might be examples of the reverse happening, too.
Schools are now getting more funding (.4, meaning two more days) for art, music and phy ed. – including a new $10 per pupil allotment for supplies – though the mandated .2 – one day a week – librarians might still be a bit meager at many schools. While some schools make up for this by staffing the library with parent volunteers or paraprofessionals, others don't have the luxury of either.
Some of that money likely comes courtesy of lower personnel costs after a slew of retirements over the past couple years. Also, word on the street is that some schools are running a deficit this year, which could have repercussions in the future.
What hasn't changed is that school-level budgets are a complicated dance for principals. There, still, just isn't enough money to fund everything.
At one school I talked to there's a debate going on. With large class sizes, teachers depend on paraprofessional aides in the classroom. Does the school hire two more this coming year and slash the strings and band lessons that dozens and dozens of kids currently enjoy, or does it keep those music programs and deprive classroom teachers of much needed extra help?
Questions like these are not easily answered and the "right" answer depends on who you ask.
In related news, according to the district's budget preparation guidelines, MPS is transitioning away from funding the High Scope early childhood education curriculum.
"There will no longer be dedicated High Scope funding, centralized support or High Scope specific professional development," the guidelines state. "High Scope-funded staff and other expenses have been removed from Board budgets. To ease this transition, support equivalent to 75 percent of each school’s FY14 High Scope allocation has been included in its Board budget."
Teachers, parents, principals, I'm eager to hear how your budgets look for the coming year. Drop me an email and let me know.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Nov. 22, 2014
The world's most famous ice skating rink shimmers beneath what must be the most impressive urban tree, perhaps in the world, and the shop windows in the Center and along Fifth Avenue must be seen to be believed. Crowds queue to see the holiday spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and Times Square is decked out in green and red. And all America comes to check it out.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Few likely know the idea of farm to table better than new Blue Jacket chef Justice Neal. Neal, after all, went from farm to table himself, having grown up on 40 acres near Beloit. Recently, Neal, who served as the restaurant's sous, was promoted to replace departing chef Matt Kerley, who had run the kitchen at Blue Jacket since 2013. Since he's already launched a new menu, we decided it was time to check in with him about his work in the kitchen.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Milwaukee Public Library looks into Milwaukee's historic public schoolhouses with a small exhibit and panel discussion at Central Library.
Published Nov. 20, 2014
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and you're hosting (or attending) a family dinner. What to do about wine? How to find something that pairs well with both turkey and cranberries? How to find a wine that appeals to you, your parents and Aunt Millie? It can be challenging, but experts say a few simple rules can help guide the way...
Published Nov. 18, 2014
One of the most recent building "booms" at Milwaukee Public Schools added a handful of new schools to the city's landscape, but at least one planned project -- and perhaps more -- never saw the light of day.
Published Nov. 14, 2014
Serious music fans will relate. Though a lot of music enters my ears, very few make the kind of impression that Lucy Wainwright Roche's 2013 record, "There's A Last Time For Everything," made on me. A year later I can tell you exactly where I was when I first popped it into the CD player and sat transfixed, unable to move. Lucy Wainwright Roche comes to Milwaukee next week, and we talked to her about it.
Published Nov. 12, 2014
Today, I got an email from my friends at Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.) about a project the group did this autumn with kids at MPS' South Side Anna F. Doerfler Community School in conjunction with Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN) and the COA CLC program. What's it all about? Read on.
Published Nov. 12, 2014
After three years in the dark, the Brown Bottle Pub, which opened in 1938 as the Schlitz tasting room, has returned. We got a little advance look.
Published Nov. 11, 2014
I've been a record store rat since I was about 9 (no, I won't tell you how many years ago that was), but I've whiled away countless hours in the dens of wonder, from sea to shining sea and even beyond. Luckily, there are still some great record shops in town, but not nearly as many as there used to be. Here are six lost Milwaukee places that I wish were still here ...
Published Nov. 11, 2014
The building that houses the Charles Allis Art Museum, 1630 E. Royall Pl., on Milwaukee's East Side was designed and built as a home, but in a sense it's also always served as an art museum. Built by a captain of industry, Charles Allis, the house -- designed by Alexander Eschweiler and built in 1909 -- was planned as more than a home for Eschweiler and his wife, Sarah. It was meant to be a showplace for their ever-growing collection of art.