Mayor Tom Barrett and the Milwaukee School Board agree on this much: The community needs an accurate reading on the district’s finances.
Unfortunately, that may be the only thing they agree on.
Both are moving separately on plans to get the numbers. The School Board wants to spend $50,000 of taxpayers’ money to perform an audit to see where the Milwaukee Public Schools can be more efficient. Barrett is seeking funding from local foundations for an assessment of the struggling district’s financial and operational situation — a study that also could take the next step and recommend restructuring and how to best direct resources to the classroom where they can most help educate Milwaukee’s kids.
On paper, we believe Barrett’s plan goes beyond that of the School Board, because it will home in on a half-dozen or so top priorities that, when funded adequately, will improve MPS performance and increase the district’s credibility among parents, taxpayers and decision-makers in Madison.
For Barrett’s plan to have bite, he needs the support of foundations to retain a firm expert in urban school system finance and operations. Then the mayor needs to pressure the board and administration to get to work.