The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this story a few days ago, and it’s just so indicative of the mismanagement of the district from a financial standpoint. No one in the private sector would get away with wasting billions of dollars and not be held accountable. Yet the district will again spend almost $1.2 billion or almost $14,000 per child. And not be held accountable.
Here’s the latest demonstration of ineptitude. Back in 2000, someone had a reasonable idea: Let’s get children back into neighborhood schools instead of busing them all over the city. We’ll save money because of reduced transportation, and we’ll have students in schools in their own neighborhoods… investing families in the neighborhoods and hopefully improving the city.
The cost of the Neighborhood Schools Initiative? $102 million. Add the interest on the debt used to pay for the program, and it will cost $175 million.
$30 million was spent on major additions to schools. $19.5 million was spent on renovations. This happened between 2001 and 2005. Enrollment has declined or not even come close to projected increases at these schools.
In a clear case of stupidity, MPS spent $7 million on school space owned by Holy Redeemer, an inner city church. You read that right… MPS paid and they don’t even own the space. A church does. This type of thing happened at more than one location.
Here’s a great example of a how badly this whole program went wrong: $2 million was spent on an addition to Auer Avenue School. Prior to the addition, neighborhood kids were bused to 90 different schools. After the addition? Neighborhood kids are being bused to 90 different schools. And the addition is not being used.
Busing costs haven’t decreased. Prior to the start of this initiative, the district spent $57 million a year on busing. This past school year, the district spent $59.5 million on busing. What an accomplishment. Only in MPS could they spend $100 million to reduce a line-item, only to actually have the line item go up after the $100 million was spent.
The district’s excuse? According to Superintendent William Andrekopoulos, it’s too early to tell if the rogram is a success. The numbers speak for themselves: A smaller percentage of children attend neighborhood schools than did before this initiative. Again I say that only in MPS is this type of stupidity accepted and rewarded.