How MPS Gets Crushed
Bruce Murphy 3/08/011 Newsbuzz
Walker’s proposed two-year budget calls for ending the cap on school choice and even allowing city students to attend choice schools in the suburbs. This could crush Milwaukee Public Schools.
State funding for schools is equalized, meaning more aid goes to poorer districts with less property tax base per students. But Milwaukee currently gets $36.5 million less than it should under this formula. That’s because the 20,000 city students who now attend choice schools do not count when the state computes the amount of property value per student. This artificially raises Milwaukee’s property value per student, and to make up for this difference, the average Milwaukee homeowner is forced to pay $166 more in annual property taxes to make up for the loss of state aid.
The end of the cap could greatly increase this inequity as the number of voucher students increases. Should the number go up to 30,000, it would increase the amount of state aid lost to Milwaukee by nearly $33 million, almost doubling the total.
But Walker also wants to cap property taxes, meaning MPS couldn’t increase taxes to recoup the loss of $33 million in state educational aid. When added to an estimated $74 million MPS expects to lose under Walker’s budget annually, the district would have to absorb a loss of $107 million annually. The number of teacher layoffs and school closings this will require is almost unimaginable.
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