Tonight the Milwaukee Public Schools board is going to vote in favor of increasing city property taxes 14.6% for the school portion. That is the largest portion of the property tax bill, so overall taxpayers will see a sharp increase in their bills.
Student enrollment has been steadily declining, while spending has been increasing. The MPS administration wants people to believe that the problem is the state funding formula. The district has been receiving less state funding because the enrollment is declining. But instead of decreasing staffing and building usage in line with the decreases in students, the district just keeps on spending.(After all, taxpayers have deep, deep pockets, right?)
The truth: The problem is the spending, not the funding formula. MPS spending is out of control.
Do you want to know how bad the spending problem is? Take a look at these numbers, which were compiled from enrollment figures, financial statement data (see actual spending on page 116 here and page 74 here for the figures that include all spending ), and budget data (projected spending.)
Between 2000 and 2009:
- Enrollment has decreased by 14,360 students. That’s more than a 14% decrease since 2000.
- Annual spending has increased by $255.5 million. That’s almost a 27% increase since 2000.
- Annual spending per student has increased by $4,601. That’s over a 48% increase since 2000.
And lest the supporters of MPS should suggest that spending is up because of increased prices (inflation) over the years, consider this: The increases in spending per student by MPS were far greater than inflation figures. Cumulative increases (adding up the percentage changes for each year) were 31.2% for MPS per student spending for 2001 through 2007. For that same period, cumulative increases in inflation were 19.2%. That clearly illustrates that MPS spending is signficantly outpacing inflation, so the inflation excuse doesn’t fly.
When is someone going to put a stop to this?
UPDATE: The 14.6% increase was approved. Big surprise. Head of MPS, William Andrekopoulos said if it wasn’t approved there would be massive layoffs. Since the district is spending beyond its means and needs (enrollment down!), I think layoffs are part of a perfect solution!