September 26 2012
Vicki E. Alger
Twenty-one Milwaukee Public School buildings have remained vacant for more than a year, the Wisconsin Reporter. Meanwhile, some state lawmakers are lobbying to get MPS more money—even though the empty school buildings are costing taxpayers about $1 million annually.
In June 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed a law that allowed the city of Milwaukee to sell or lease vacant school buildings held by MPS, which previously held a deed restriction, preventing the buildings from being used as schools that were not part of MPS. …Since June 2011, the city hasn’t sold or leased a single vacant school building….
Milwaukee Public Schools spends the fourth most per pupil among large metropolitan areas in the country, at more than $14,000 per student. … State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said MPS should sell off its vacant buildings, rather than ask for more money.
“The teacher union-dominated Milwaukee school board is paying to maintain empty buildings and then has the nerve to ask the state for more money,” Grothman told Wisconsin Reporter. “They don’t get rid of them because they’re afraid if they sell them somehow a choice school is going to buy them.”
According to the U.S. Department of education, during the 2008-09 school year (the latest year figures are available), the average Wisconsin public school spent nearly $12,500 per pupil, about $200 more than the national average. Of that amount, Wisconsin public schools spent almost $4,000 per pupil on support services, including close to $600 per pupil just on debt interest (more than 40 percent higher than the national average).
Apparently, city and school officials have forgotten that they don’t own those buildings. Taxpayers do.