Fixing Milwaukee Notes: Milwaukee School District Governance

From the 9/19/2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee School Board voted Thursday night to begin looking into dissolving the Milwaukee Public Schools system.


The resolution called for the administration to examine state and federal guidelines for dissolving the school district and who would be responsible for educating children in Milwaukee if that happened.


Andrekopoulos began the meeting by saying, “The state finance system to fund Milwaukee Public Schools is broken,” then repeating the sentence for emphasis.

He said that even with no increase in spending for the current school year, the property tax levy to support schools would go up 9.8% because of a decrease in state aid to MPS.


“We have ample evidence the current model is going to move us to ruination sooner or later,” Goldberg said.

Falk said he did not want the move to be “a Trojan horse” for those who want Mayor Tom Barrett to take over running the school system — an idea being discussed in some power circles in the city.

But, he said, “Structurally, financially, we’re in an untenable situation.”

“Anybody else running it — good luck,” Falk said.


Issues: 1) Human Capital, 2) Leadership 3) Governing Process

1) The schools help grow human capital which is used by individuals and businesses to create wealth and improve Quality/Happiness of Life for self and for community.

2) The schooling system is somewhat of a mess. Many students do not want be part of that culture…the schools and teachers are the enemy. These students see no value in schooling. They are on track to little or no wealth creation or Happiness/Quality Life. They will be future consumers/destroyers of Wealth, QoL and happiness.

3) Milwaukee has a large gap and the disconnected culture that goes with it.

4) The Milwaukee School board is not of high quality. It turns over often. I remember listening to board meetings in the early evening on WYMS and shaking my head at the stupidity of many board members. They did not seem to understand fiance or budgeting.

5) Income sources for the schools system are tight now. let the board has spent millions and millions of dollars on new ocntruction and expansion into area that turned out have declining enrollment.

6) How much of the capital of the school district is tied up into the building?

7) How much of the useable day-to-day cash is tied up into maintaining the building?

8 ) Wikipedia entry –

9) Back of Envelope numbers

– MPS budget $1B

– 97762 students (round up to 100k)

-6000 teachers  – full and substitute – assume they are all full-time for simplicity of calculation (where this is off will be negative to my point)

-assume teacher costs (high) of $90k

10) Back of Envelope Calculation

– $10k per student

– 16 student per teacher (rounded down)

– each classroom of 16 students brings cash in the way of: $160k per classroom.

11) Back Of Envelope Analysis

– Where is the other $70k being spent?

– $25k would buy $1000 of books and other ed materials each year, notebooks, pens, plus a $300 mini-laptop, plus daily breakfast and daily lunch…for each studenteach year!

– Where is the remaining $45k spent? Bosses, Buildings, and Building upkeep, and what?

-Can’t this remaining money be spent better?

I have thought about this before.

Updated: Related thoughts here, here, here, here, here and here.

I think the budget problem is that too many resources are tied into fixed tangible assets or maintaining those fixed tangible assets.

Update: More “No Snitching” as “gap” subculture – here, here, here and here.

Update: More on dissolving MPS here, here, and here.

The issues of Leadership and the Governing Process are only part of Fixing Milwaukee. Destroying MPS doesn’t fix the gap-minded culture.

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