Milwaukee Public Schools is crippled by a broken state funding system that needs to be changed, or the district will be destitute within a decade, if not sooner.
In one sense, the financial crisis at MPS is similar to that of the banks: MPS essentially is asking the Legislature for a rescue plan.
MPS officials say the state funding formula needs to change so that it can sustain itself and perform its core mission of educating some of the state’s poorest students. Like most urban districts, MPS is dealing with low test scores, high dropout rates and violence in addition to money problems.
We back MPS in its push, and we urge the Legislature to do two things: Change the overall formula that places MPS in such a tough situation, and correct a specific problem with the way Milwaukee’s voucher schools are funded that places undue burden on Milwaukee property owners.
First, let’s consider the state’s overall funding formula. Its goal is to try to equalize funding between rich and poor districts so that students in property-poor districts are not penalized because of where they live. The idea is that a taxpayer in a property-poor district should not have to pay much higher taxes to achieve the same per-student funding.