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MPS referendum seeking to close funding gap will go to voters in April 2 election

MPS Central ServicesOn Thursday, January 11, 2024, at a Special Board Meeting, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted to place a referendum on the April 2, 2024, ballot to address the funding crisis affecting MPS. The vote comes after Board Resolution 2324R-009 was adopted in December. The resolution, introduced by MPS Board President Marva Herndon and MPS Board Director Missy Zombor, directed the Administration to deliver a recommendation for a referendum ballot question during the January Board cycle.  

“I applaud my fellow board members for taking action to address the budget shortfall, which is the result of years of underfunding by the State of Wisconsin,” said President Herndon. “The state has not provided per pupil funding that has kept pace with inflation for 16 years. MPS, like hundreds of districts across the state, must now turn to voters to help provide for our children.”     

Had state funding matched inflation, MPS would have more than $210 million in additional support for educational services each year. Instead, MPS is facing an estimated budget shortfall for fiscal year 2025 of at least $200 million. Furthermore, MPS students with disabilities are underfunded by the state by at least $50 million annually, per state-level recommendations.  

The referendum will be on the April 2, 2024, spring election ballot and will ask voters for a $252 million four-year phased-in revenue limit increase. The estimated impact for homeowners would be $216 per $100,000 of assessed property value in Year One only. Taxes would remain flat in future years.  

The board chose the middle of three referendum options. It would exceed the revenue limit by $140 million for the 2024-25 school year and would phase in revenue limit increases until reaching $252 million for the 2027-28 school year and thereafter.  

“We have a responsibility to support our students, and the state has not left us other options,” said Director Zombor. “I am choosing to give voters the choice to invest in our students and to help protect important programming that will set them, and the community, up for success.” 

If voters approve the referendum, the extra funding will sustain the district’s educational programming. That includes offering career and technical education programs, attracting and retaining certified educators, and further improving art, music, physical education and language programs.  

Contacts

Stephen Davis, Media Relations Manager

davis2@milwaukee.k12.wi.us
(414) 475-8675
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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • Ninety-four percent of 2022-23 budget dollars go to support schools;
  • The MPS Class of 2023 earned $121 million in scholarships and grants; and
  • MPS is home to five of the state's top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report.

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