Referendum and vacant positions enable MPS to extend salaries regardless of monetary challenges | WUWM 89.7 FM

The Milwaukee Public Faculties board is about to approve its $1.3 billion budget for the upcoming faculty yr this week. The varsity board is holding a public hearing Tuesday and a vote on the finances Thursday.

MPS is shedding funding because of stagnant state help and a pointy enrollment decline through the pandemic. However the district has two life rafts: a tax referendum handed in 2020 that enables for $84 million in extra spending and about $730 million in one-time federal aid.

The Wisconsin Coverage Discussion board delved into the place the cash goes in its report on MPS’s FY23 finances proposal.

Co-author Rob Henken says general, lecture rooms are usually not going through cuts subsequent yr.

“It definitely seems that faculties will likely be held innocent and can see cost-to-continue will increase, so there should not be any damaging impacts,” Henken says. “And also you layer on prime of that the optimistic impacts that will come from these preliminary and one-time infusions of federal cash, plus the continued ramp-up of referendum spending.”

Amid tight labor market, MPS boosts pay

MPS has elevated salaries in an try to draw and retain staff. The board reinstated a salary schedule in 2019 and just lately authorized a 4.7% cost-of-living improve within the upcoming yr.

There’s a query of how MPS can maintain these bills long-term. It lost students at a fast tempo through the pandemic and state funding hasn’t kept up with inflation.

Henken says MPS is planning to spend about $40 million of its $84 million in referendum income on salaries.

“From what we will make out, most of that cash is paying for a part of that cost-of-living adjustment for all MPS staff of 4.7% [and] additionally serving to to pay for compensation adjustments that had been adopted in 2019 and 2020 which have definitely added some vital monetary challenges to the MPS finances.”

MPS additionally plans to make use of projected price financial savings from vacant positions to help the wage will increase.

Henken says MPS at present has 244 vacant instructor positions and dozens of different worker vacancies, which is anticipated to save lots of $120 million within the present FY22 finances.

“It is a byproduct of the tight labor market and all types of different components that frankly each employer is experiencing proper now. They count on these excessive ranges of vacancies to proceed all through the following fiscal yr, and so they have budgeted an additional $38 million value of financial savings (for a complete of $58 million) from these vacant financial savings.”

The coverage discussion board notes that MPS doesn’t focus on this emptiness adjustment intimately in its public finances paperwork.

On the identical time, MPS is budgeting for brand new positions, utilizing its referendum cash and federal stimulus help. Henken says if MPS is not in a position to fill these positions, it must determine whether or not to proceed funding them or to make use of that cash to learn college students in different methods.

$730 million in one-time federal funding

MPS is receiving a windfall of federal funding from the 2 most up-to-date pandemic aid packages. The funding is called Elementary and Secondary Faculties Emergency Reduction, or ESSER. MPS is allotted $225 million from ESSER 2 and $505 million from ESSER 3.

As a result of it is one-time cash, Henken says MPS is planning to make use of most of it on one-time bills — like amenities upgrades, curriculum and expertise.

“We now have nothing however good issues to say concerning the nice care that has been taken to date to make sure these {dollars} are being invested for one-time makes use of and never being pumped into ongoing operations,” says Henken.

Different faculty districts have mentioned they might have to make use of federal {dollars} to fill finances holes created by flat state funding.

Districts have till fall of 2024 to spend the federal help, though the Division of Schooling has said it might grant extensions for constructing upgrades.

Have a query about training you would like WUWM’s Emily Information to dig into? Submit it under.

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