Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Dr. Demond Means, commissioner of the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program created by state legislature last summer, are reaffirming their commitment to protecting Milwaukee Public Schools with a proposal that would retain enrollment at MPS schools, and the associated millions of dollars within the district, while also protecting MPS jobs.
The proposal ensures that 1) teachers and employees at struggling schools would retain their status as MPS employees, while retaining high licensing standards, ensuring they remain members of their union and keep their MPS employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement; 2) students would remain enrolled in MPS; and 3) per-pupil funding received from the state would be returned back to MPS.
Another key component of the proposal is a commitment to implementing a community schools model. Some schools within MPS are already utilizing a community schools model, in partnership with the United Way. It is our goal to use this same model to learn best practices from these schools and others around the country that have been successful in improving outcomes and making their school the center of a thriving community.
This model engages families and community members as integral pieces of the puzzle in setting high goals for educational performance, providing support for educators, and in achieving success in school and in life. This model can also address issues outside of the classroom that impact performance in the classroom, such as mental health, transit, housing, and economic security by wrapping services around children and their families.
MPS now has a choice. They can say YES to keeping OSPP schools public and retaining funding within MPS or, if they say NO, in order to comply with the law, the schools will be taken from the district and millions of dollars will be lost. MPS is being asked to come to the table to work out an agreement for saving public schools, teacher jobs and student enrollment in MPS, while attracting more resources and support to turn around low performing schools.
"A partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools would allow us to put more resources and support into the district, without disrupting MPS students or employees," County Executive Chris Abele said. "I urge MPS to come to the table and work out an intergovernmental agreement with us that will prevent millions of dollars from being lost. Losing this funding unnecessarily puts the rest of the district at risk."
Regarding school participation in the OSPP program, the county executive has confirmed several times over the past few months that he would commit to just one school entering into the OSPP program for the first year. He and Dr. Means have confirmed again to MPS that the proposal they have submitted is for just one school to enter the OSPP program. While they wish to partner with MPS in identifying which one school that is, both Dr. Means and the county executive are not willing to consider implementing OSPP in a school already using a community schools model.
"The issues impacting low-performing schools are too complex and too entrenched for any one entity to fix on its own," Dr. Demond Means said. "We all care about our public schools and want our kids to have the best possible opportunities. This proposal ensures that Milwaukee Public Schools retains its seat at the table and is an active partner in engaging communities to support our public schools and helping our kids get the educational experience they deserve."
View the proposal and learn more about our commitment to protecting public schools at osppmilwaukee.org.