MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Board of School Directors passed two resolutions, one for a new school year calendar and another for a potential funding referendum at Thursday night’s meeting.
The board voted to adopt a single, district-wide calendar instead of two calendars for the 2024-25 school-year. The next school year will begin Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2024.
A Milwaukee Public Schools Strategic Plan survey that families completed showed overwhelming support for a move to a single calendar and September start date. The school board anticipates the change will lead to cost savings on bus transportation, lessened impact of extreme heat on school days and better convenience for families with children in different schools that previously followed different calendars.
The board also passed a resolution to consider a referendum to address the district’s budget needs. Resolution 2324R-009 does not yet put a referendum on the ballot, but rather directs MPS administration to gather information for a possible referendum. The resolution was introduced by School Board President Marva Herndon and board member Missy Zombor.
Board members including President Herndon called the school district’s funding crisis “dire” and criticized the Wisconsin legislature for failing to provide more public school funding amid Wisconsin’s new record high of a $6.7 billion budget surplus.
“Even when we had to experience the two years of the Covid pandemic, they inflicted pain upon public schools throughout the state by providing zero additional funding,” President Herndon said. “That is unconscionable.”
The state has also failed to match inflation rates, with school district revenues lagging by more than $3,300 per pupil since 2009. MPS would have more than $210 million in additional support for educational services each year if state funding had matched inflation.
The school board is asking for community input on the district’s expected budget shortfall and urges Milwaukee county residents to take a brief online survey.
MPS administration will bring a proposal forth during the January Board cycle. Once a proposal is made, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors will make a decision about a referendum for the April 2024 ballot.
MPS last held a referendum in 2020 when Milwaukee voters approved $87 million to support public schools.