MPS Is Deciding How To Spend $504 Million Over Subsequent 3 Years. Workers Say They Want Assist Now | WUWM 89.7 FM

Leaders of Milwaukee Public Colleges will determine within the next couple weeks on a spending plan for a windfall of one-time federal stimulus money: $504 million.

The cash comes from the third spherical of Elementary and Secondary College Emergency Aid, referred to as ESSER III, a part of the American Rescue Plan. MPS has already spent or budgeted the primary two rounds of ESSER funding, which totaled $41 million and $225 million, respectively.

>>MPS Deciding How To Spend $731 Million In COVID Relief

MPS directors have a long list of proposals for the $504 million in ESSER III. It contains renovating college buildings, shopping for know-how for college kids and workers, increasing tutoring and after-school applications, rising psychological well being companies, and constructing a take a look at kitchen to develop higher college meals.

MPS

MPS directors divided their funding priorities for ESSER III into 5 classes: accelerated studying, well being and wellness, amenities, know-how and extracurricular engagement. This chart reveals how the administration proposes divvying up the funding.

However in written and spoken testimony on the plan, MPS workers mentioned some ESSER funds ought to be used now to deal with pressing issues in faculties.

Milwaukee Academics’ Schooling Affiliation President Amy Mizialko mentioned workers shortages throughout worker teams, COVID cases, and quarantine make it extra dire. She testified throughout a college board meeting Thursday.

“Our faculties have reached the purpose of dangerously inadequate staffing,” Mizialko mentioned. “The variety of workers in quarantine or who’re sick with COVID isn’t sustainable and the workers you continue to have in faculties are breaking. It’s the third week of the normal college yr. There aren’t sufficient lecturers or nurses, there are solely a handful of substitute lecturers left, we don’t have sufficient constructing service helpers to maintain our faculties clear.”

In response to MPS, there are at present 156 educating vacancies.

In the meantime, some lecturers are frightened about themselves or coworkers being moved to completely different faculties due to surprising enrollment declines. This is named “excessing.”

Monica Lopez testified that her college was already quick 5 workers members and is now shedding one other two. Nonetheless, she didn’t establish which college she works at.

“At my constructing we’re reducing two classroom lecturers,” Lopez mentioned. “We’re taking school rooms which might be developmentally acceptable and doubling them. Now we’re rising class sizes and lowering grownup help by seven in my constructing, all whereas making an attempt to supply well being and security protocols and mitigations.”

MPS communications workers advised WUWM that the district continues to be figuring out workers that can be excessed and has not made selections but.

Enrollment in MPS is down greater than anticipated, in keeping with Superintendent Kieth Posley. He mentioned at a Wisconsin Coverage Discussion board event Friday that enrollment is down much more than final yr – when college was digital – and that the most important declines are within the youngest grades.

“So principally this yr we noticed most likely the biggest discount that we now have had in numerous years,” Posley mentioned.

Posley mentioned in a traditional yr, MPS loses about 1,200 or 1,500 college students. This yr, he mentioned, it’s down round 4,000 college students. MPS communications workers advised WUWM Tuesday that district enrollment is 69,810.

Posley mentioned the inflow of federal ESSER funding is useful. However, it’s one-time cash that can run out inside within the subsequent three years.

“I fear concerning the fiscal cliff that’s going to happen after these stimulus {dollars} are out,” Posley mentioned. “Stimulus {dollars} assist us to satisfy the wants, to stage the taking part in subject for the district and the scholars within the metropolis. But in addition our college students want further [funding] with a purpose to transfer ahead to make sure that we are able to transfer on after 2023-24.”

Throughout dialogue of the $504 million ESSER III finances, college board members talked about the necessity to handle staffing and enrollment points. Erika Siemsen mentioned the district ought to attempt to meet the quick wants of faculties.

“We’ve actually clearly heard that faculties are struggling and wish our help,” Siemsen mentioned. “So my first query was type of about that triage system – to prioritize what do we have to get via this yr?”

Siemsen mentioned she hoped rising COVID vaccinations amongst workers and college students would assist the state of affairs as properly. MPS has a vaccine requirement for workers and plans to reward college students who get vaccinated with $100.

The subsequent assembly on the ESSER III spending plan is scheduled for Oct 7.

Have a query about schooling you need WUWM’s Emily Recordsdata to dig into? Submit it under. (If the module is not showing, please refresh the web page.)

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