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Washington Park Library super readers!
Washington Park Library super readers! (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)

Create a Super Reader and prevent your child taking the "summer slide"

It's that time of year again. The time when I'm thrilled that my kids are thrilled to sign up for Milwaukee Public Library's Super Reader summer reading program.

This year's program kicked off on Monday, May 15 and runs through Aug. 26 (MPS is back in session on Tuesday, Sept. 5).

Kids up to age 12 can visit any MPL branch and sign up for free. They'll get a Super Reader yard sign or window cling and a sheet to track their reading over the summer.

Teenagers can take part in the Teen Summer Challenge, which runs during the same time period. See the details here.

Each time they complete a level, they can head back to the library and get a prize. At the end of summer they'll get more goodies, like free books, food coupons and admission to area attractions.

Each May, my kids can't wait to sign up.

One morning at breakfast, they shaded in the progress circles based on the previous day's reading and were proud of their early progress. Later, one of them said, "I think I'm becoming a book person."

Music to a parent's ears.

The National Summer Learning Association says that the "summer slide" – the brain drain that comes from kids' absence from the classroom – affects their progress and also negatively affects the achievement gap.

"Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months," according the NSLA's web site. "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. 

"More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities."

Let your kids see you read for pleasure and create life-long readers and life-long learners. Buy them books. Read to them and with them. If books are too expensive at bookshops, go to a resale shop, pick some up at a rummage sale ('tis the season) or from a Little Free Library. Kids will trea…

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"This reality necessitates the proposed elimination of 194 positions and an overall reduction of $31 million to school budgets."
"This reality necessitates the proposed elimination of 194 positions and an overall reduction of $31 million to school budgets."

Report: MPS faces "revenue challenges, renewed expenditure pressures"

According to a new Public Policy Forum report, Milwaukee Public Schools again "face(s) revenue challenges and renewed expenditure pressures," which are reflected in its FY18 budget.

The PPF report, which can be downloaded here, says that the district went into its budget planning sessions with a $46 million shortfall because it made use of a one-time savings from retirement and debt payments to fund new staff positions and initiatives. This opportunity, the report says, was "fully transparent."

That savings, however, has evaporated and the money used for staff must now be returned to funding of retirement and debt.

"After two consecutive years in which the district was able to add positions and initiate new
Programs," the report notes, "the 2018 proposed budget reverts back to a more familiar budget paradigm – one in which MPS' leaders face fierce pressure to reduce positions and to shift resources from school operations to other needs.

"This reality necessitates the proposed elimination of 194 positions and an overall reduction of $31 million to school budgets."

Here are some key findings from the report, as presented in a Public Policy Forum release:

  • The budget anticipates a $15.4 million increase in per pupil aid from the State based on the Governor's recommended 2017-19 State budget. That increase is mostly offset, however, by a projected $12.9 million reduction in combined State equalization aids and local property tax levy based on aid amounts and revenue limits in the Governor's budget.
  • While the proposed budget fully restores one-time savings in retirement and capital-related debt accounts, it again includes a transfer of $9.5 million in property tax levy from the construction fund to school operations. This transfer likely will need to be restored in 2019, adding to budget challenges that year.
  • After several successive years of decline following the negotiation of a new teachers' union contract in 2010 and changes enabled by Wisconsin Act 10,MPS’…
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On Monday, Bader Philanthropies staff and others gathered to break ground for a new HQ in the Harambee neighborhood.
On Monday, Bader Philanthropies staff and others gathered to break ground for a new HQ in the Harambee neighborhood.

Bader breaks ground on new Harambee headquarters project

On Monday, Bader Philanthropies staff, the Bader family, local notables and others gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the new home of the Bader Philanthropies Global Headquarters at 3318 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. in the Harambee neighborhood.

OnMilwaukee readers learned all about the project and got to see inside the building that will form the main section of the new offices in this February Urban Spelunking article.

Among those on hand at Monday’s event were Mayor Tom Barrett; Ald. Milele Coggs; Daniel J. Bader, CEO of Bader Philanthropies; Frank Cumberbatch, Bader’s project manager; and Ald. Cavalier Johnson.

The new headquarters is expected to open by summer 2018. A rendering of the completed facility was also available for guests to examine.

Here are some photos from the ceremony:


Mayor Tom Barrett (right) listens as Daniel Bader addresses guests.


Bader family and staff gathered for a photo at the groundbreaking.


Milwaukee turned out to celebrate the groundbreaking.


A rendering showing how the completed project will look.

Ald. Milele Coggs, in whose district the project is located, addresses the crowd.


Mayor Tom Barrett speaks at the event.

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Bradley Tech opened a new high-tech Fab Lab today thanks to a $25,000 state grant.
Bradley Tech opened a new high-tech Fab Lab today thanks to a $25,000 state grant.

Bradley Tech gets MPS' second high-tech fabrication lab today

Less than a week after Washington High School for Information Technology opened its new "Fab Lab," thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), another MPS high school is launching one.

This morning – dubbed Wisconsin Fab Lab Day – WEDC Secretary Mark R. Hogan, MPS Superintendant Dr. Darienne Driver and other state officials swung open the doors to a new Fab Lab fabrication studio at Bradley Tech High School, 700 S. 4th St. Like the Washington lab, this one was funded with a $25,000 WEDC grant.

Washington's lab has two vinyl cutters, a trio of three-dimensional printers, a 3-D scanner, a computer numerical control mill, a laser engraver and the computers to make them function. The Tech lab equipment is reportedly not the same.

WEDC is making $500,000 in grants to 21 school districts across Wisconsin to fund high-tech Fab Lab workshops in schools to help introduce students to the latest industry equipment that can be found in manufacturing businesses around the state.