Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin

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Milwaukee Public Schools
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Public Schools seal.jpeg
District Profile
Superintendent:Dr. Darienne Driver
Graduation rate:60.5 percent[2]
Number of schools:160[3]
Budget: $1.2 billion
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Michael Bonds
Board members:9
Term length:4
Milwaukee Public Schools is a school district in Wisconsin that served 78,516 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[1]

About the district

Milwaukee Public Schools is located in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Public Schools is located in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The county seat is Milwaukee. Milwaukee County was home to 956,023 residents in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.[4] During the 2011-2012 school year, Milwaukee Public Schools was the largest school district by enrollment in Wisconsin.[5]


Higher education achievement

Milwaukee County outperformed the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 27.7 percent of Milwaukee County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.4 percent for Wisconsin as a whole.[4]

Median household income

From 2008 through 2012, the median household income for Milwaukee County was $43,599. During that same time period, the median household income for Wisconsin was $52,627.[4]

Poverty rate

The poverty rate in Milwaukee County was 20.9 percent from 2008 through 2012. During that same time period, the poverty rate for the entire state was 12.5 percent.[4]

Racial and political demographics

Racial Demographics, 2013[4]
Race Milwaukee County (%) Wisconsin (%)
White 65.6 88.1
Black or African American 27.1 6.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.9 1.1
Asian 3.8 2.5
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.0 0.0
Two or more race 2.6 1.7
Hispanic or Latino 14.0 6.3

Presidential Voting Pattern, Milwaukee County[6]
Year Democratic Vote Green Party Vote Libertarian Vote Republican Vote
2012 332,438 1,042 2,623 154,924
2008 319,819 589 1,105 149,445
2004 297,653 319 963 180,287

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[7]


Dr. Darienne Driver is the superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. She served as interim superintendent from July 1, 2014, to September 30, 2014. She was named the district's first permanent female superintendent on October 1, 2014. Prior to becoming superintendent, Dr. Driver served as the district's chief innovation officer for two years. Dr. Driver also has experience serving as a deputy chief in curriculum, instruction, professional development and school empowerment with the School District of Philadelphia. She earned her bachelor's degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, her master's degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, another master's degree from the University of Michigan and her doctoral degree from Harvard University. Dr. Driver started her career in education as a public elementary school teacher in Detroit Public Schools.[8][9][10]

School board

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors consists of nine members elected to four-year terms. Eight members are elected by specific geographic districts, and one member is elected at-large.[3]

Milwaukee Board of School Directors[3][11]
Member Title District Term Ends
Michael Bonds President District 3 2019
Mark Sain Director District 1 2019
Wendell Harris Sr. Director District 2 2019
Annie Woodward Director District 4 2017
Larry Miller Director District 5 2017
Tatiana Joseph Director District 6 2017
Claire Zautke Director District 7 2017
Carol Voss Director District 8 2019
Terrence Falk Director At-large 2019

Governing majority

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted unanimously on 66.7 percent of its votes between January 1, 2014, and July 1, 2014. Out of all votes recorded by the board, 94.2 percent passed.

  • When the board did not vote unanimously:
    • Only 17.4 percent of the votes did not pass.
    • Michael Bonds, Terrence Falk, Meagan Holman, Tatiana Joseph, Mark Sain, Jeff Spence and Claire Zautke all voted "no" between one to three times each.
    • Terrence Falk and Claire Zautke voted together 100 percent of the time. Beyond them, there was no clear pattern or alignment between those seven board members on non-unanimous votes.
    • Larry Miller and Annie Woodward voted "no" eight and 22 times, respectively. When Miller voted against a proposal, he and Woodward voted together 87.5 percent of the time. They voted together on only 39.1 percent of all non-unanimous votes.
    • Annie Woodward cast the only vote against a proposal 13 times, which represented 56.5 percent of the non-unanimous votes.
  • Tatiana Joseph was absent for 21.7 percent of all votes cast, which was the highest percentage of any board member.

The voting data indicates that Michael Bonds, Terrence Falk, Meagan Holman, Tatiana Joseph, Mark Sain, Jeff Spence and Claire Zautke are the governing majority on the board. Larry Miller and Annie Woodward may be the minority faction, although their voting patterns are different enough to indicate that they are not unified on a majority of non-unanimous votes.[12]

School board elections

See also: Milwaukee Public Schools elections (2015)

Members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis every odd-numbered year. Four seats were up for election in 2013, and five seats were up for election in 2015.[3][11]

Public participation in board meetings

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors does not maintain published guidelines regarding public participation in board meetings.


Milwaukee Public Schools publishes its annual budget on its website. Details on the district's revenue and expenditures in recent years can be found in the tables below. The following charts show the percentages of revenue and expenditures by type for the 2014-2015 school year.[13]




The district's total revenues dropped by 28.9 percent from 2011 to 2014. During this same time period local, state and federal aid all decreased.

Revenue by Category
School Year Local Other School Districts State Aid Federal Aid Other Revenue Total
Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue
2011-2012 $19,811,879 1.7% $0 0% $606,523,242 51.3% $59,884,941 5.1% $495,238,837 41.9% $1,181,458,899
2012-2013 $27,451,018 2.3% $0 0% $603,001,056 50.4% $53,912,941 4.5% $512,465,940 42.8% $1,196,830,955
2013-2014 $37,029,221 3.1% $0 0% $611,454,659 51.9% $54,271,650 4.6% $476,220,601 40.4% $1,178,976,131
2014-2015 $6,912,100 0.8% $0 0% $72,481,901 7.9% $16,065,881 1.8% $821,407,339 89.6% $916,867,580
Averages: $22,801,054.5 2% $0 0% $473,365,214.5 42% $46,033,853.25 4% $576,333,179.25 52% $1,118,533,391.25


From 2011 to 2014, the district's total expenditures decreased by 3.1 percent. While expenditures on debt service and operational expenses increased, expenditures on student services and staff expenses decreased.

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2011-2012 $944,757,442 79.2% $95,074,996 8% $143,885,214 12.1% $12,143,284 1% $9,874,646 0.8% $1,193,170,913
2012-2013 $962,576,444 73.7% $97,362,019 7.5% $177,265,465 13.6% $9,212,074 0.7% $2,025,893 0.2% $1,306,436,479
2013-2014 $907,186,413 76.9% $90,693,117 7.7% $187,781,756 15.9% $14,558,485 1.2% $503,567 0% $1,178,976,131
2014-2015 $780,430,694 67.4% $57,722,071 5% $289,592,752 25% $26,647,436 2.3% $2,903,602 0.3% $1,157,296,555
Averages: $898,737,748.25 74% $85,213,050.75 7% $199,631,296.75 17% $15,640,319.75 1% $3,826,927 0% $1,208,970,019.5

Teacher salaries

Teacher salaries at Milwaukee Public Schools are categorized based on higher education achievement and years of service. A teacher with a bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate degrees. The salary schedule also accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries. The following table lists salaries for district teachers during the 2012-2013 school year.[14]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
B.A. 37,721 56,936
B.A. + 16 39,476 59,749
M.A. 42,286 69,832
M.A. + 16 44,046 73,604
M.A. + 32 45,804 76,978


Teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools are represented by the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA).[15] Members of the MTEA elected the following leaders to set union policy:[16]

  • President: Bob Peterson
  • Vice President: Kim Schroeder
  • Secretary: Ingrid Walker-Henry
  • Treasurer: Dorothy Hancock

Members elected president and vice president are released from school duties for their term of office in order to conduct union business. All other elected positions conduct their responsibilities on a voluntary basis, after regular school hours.[16]

Schools in Milwaukee Public Schools


The district served 78,516 students during the 2013-2014 school year. Between 2009 and 2013, Milwaukee Public Schools experienced a 4.6 percent decrease in enrollment. The following table details enrollment in the district between 2009 and 2013:[1]

Total enrollment
School year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2009-2010 82,096 -
2010-2011 80,934 -1.4
2011-2012 79,130 -2.3
2012-2013 78,363 -0.98
2013-2014 78,516 0.19

District schools

Milwaukee Public Schools operates 160 schools.[3] A list of all the schools in the district can be found here.

There are nine different types of schools within the district, including:[17]

  • Neighborhood schools: Also known as an attendance-area school, these schools automatically accept students from their neighborhood. If there is room, they may enroll students from outside of the immediate neighborhood but within the district of Milwaukee Public Schools.
  • Neighborhood specialty schools: These are neighborhood schools that offer special programs or focus on specific areas of study. Students from the neighborhood are enrolled first, then students within the district, then students outside of the district, if space allows.
  • Citywide specialty schools: These are schools that offer special programs or focus on specific areas of study. Students are accepted from the whole district and also outside of the district. Preference may be given to students within the school's neighborhood, depending on the school.
  • Comprehensive middle schools and comprehensive high schools: These schools offer a wide variety of programming. Though they do have specific attendance areas, students from outside those areas may also enroll.
  • Charter schools: These schools operate more independently from the district than other schools. They set their own enrollment and transportation policies, so these vary by school.
  • Alternative schools: These schools target students who struggle in a more traditional classroom environment.
  • Partnership schools: Like alternative schools, these schools target students who struggle in a more traditional school environment. They also target students who are considered at risk of dropping out.
  • Contracted agency schools: These are operated by partners within the district's community, offering programs such as Head Start, kindergarten and limited elementary services.
  • MPS Head Start: This program offers free preschool for income-eligible 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds at a number of schools and other sites in the district.

Academic performance

See also: Public education in Wisconsin
Education policy logo.jpg

Education policy in the U.S.
Public education in the U.S.
School choice in the U.S.
Charter schools in the U.S.
Higher education in the U.S.
State public education information
Higher education by state
Glossary of education terms
Education statistics
See also

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administers annual Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) tests to students throughout the state. These tests assess proficiency in math and reading among students in grades three through eight as well as 10th grade. WSAS tests also evaluate proficiency in language arts, science and social studies at grades four, eight and 10. The Department of Public Instruction publishes results from WSAS tests as part of each district's Annual District Report Card.[18]

The Annual District Report Card compares district performance with state performance based on four criteria:[18]

  • Student Achievement: This category compares reading and math performance by district students to state and national standards.
  • Student Growth: This category compares year-to-year performance on reading and math sections in WSAS tests.
  • Closing Gaps: This category compares test performance by low-performing groups in the district to similar cohorts across the state.
  • On-Track and Postsecondary Readiness: This category uses benchmarks including ACT scores, graduation rate, attendance rate and math achievement to assess post-graduate preparedness.

Milwaukee Public Schools achieved an overall score of 51.1 during the 2013-2014 school year. The district's overall score led to a "Fails to Meet Expectations" designation from the Department of Public Instruction. The following tables compare district performance with state performance and detail the accountability ratings for schools in the district, according to the 2013-2014 Annual District Report Card:[18]

Annual District Report Card grades, 2013-2014
Category District score State score
Student achievement 37.1 66.4
Student growth 55.7 62.4
Closing gaps 63.0 66.3
On-track and postsecondary readiness 68.7 85.3

Accountability ratings for schools in the district, 2013-2014
Category Number of schools Percentage of schools
Significantly exceeds expectations 0 0.0%
Exceeds expectations 8 5.0%
Meets expectations 22 13.7%
Meets few expectations 49 30.4%
Fails to meet expectations 55 34.2%
Alternate Accountability - Satisfactory Progress 12 7.5%
Alternate Accountability - Needs Improvement 15 9.3%

Historical data

The state's Annual District Report Card includes a review of district and state proficiency information in mathematics and reading for the previous five years. This review includes data from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD) for students from grades three through eight and 10. The following tables compare the district's percentage of proficient and advanced proficient students with state levels from the 2008-2009 school year through the 2013-2014 school year:[18]

Mathematics proficiency comparisons, 2008-2013
School year District proficiency rate (%) State proficiency rate (%)
2008-2009 19.0 45.2
2009-2010 20.8 47.0
2010-2011 20.7 46.8
2011-2012 20.9 48.3
2012-2013 20.6 48.2
2013-2014 20.3 48.8

Reading proficiency comparisons, 2008-2013
School year District proficiency rate (%) State proficiency rate (%)
2008-2009 13.6 35.3
2009-2010 13.9 35.7
2010-2011 14.1 35.7
2011-2012 14.9 36.0
2012-2013 15.1 36.4
2013-2014 15.7 36.7


District faces possibility of takeover

Milwaukee Public Schools received a "fails to meet expectations" rating on the 2013 and 2014 annual school report cards published by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Due to a new proposal the Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee added to the state budget, those grades could cause schools in the district to be taken over by an independent commissioner.[19]

The budget is still a work in progress, but it is expected to be debated on in June 2015. The proposal to have independent commissioners takeover failing schools was added by the Joint Finance Committee on May 20, 2015, on a party-line vote, with Republicans in support and Democrats against.[19]

If passed with the state budget, the three lowest performing schools in the Milwaukee school district would be taken over by an independent commissioner appointed by the county executive for the 2015-2016 and the 2016-2017 school years. After that, five more schools could be added each year. All employees in those the schools taken over would be fired and required to re-apply for their jobs. The commissioner would also have the ability to convert any of the schools to private, non-religious voucher schools or independent charter schools.[19]

The Milwaukee school district is the only district in the state that could be affected by the proposal in 2015, as it meets the following three criteria: it has over 15,000 students, it received the lowest rating on the annual school report cards for two years in a row, and it receives state aid to transport minority students within district boundaries. Only two other districts in the state, the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Racine Unified School District, have the possibility of qualifying, due to student enrollment and receiving state transportation aid. Madison, however, received "meets expectations" ratings in 2013 and 2014, and Racine received "meets few expectations" ratings both years.[19]

Educators speak out at budget hearings

Hundreds of protesters joined Wisconsin lawmakers at the second of four public hearings on Gov. Scott Walker's proposed state budget on March 20, 2015. The protesters spoke out against the proposed cuts to education.[20]

“It doesn’t matter what city we’re leading. It doesn’t matter the size of the district. What we’re talking about are students. We’re talking about children,” said Milwaukee Superintendent Darienne Driver.[20]

The budget meeting was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The group Parents for Public Schools requested an extension for the meeting to allow parents and educators a chance to join after school hours, but the Joint Finance Committee did not respond to their request. Milwaukee educators, parents and students entered the meeting together at 4:30 p.m. to express their concerns about funding cuts to public education.[21] The Milwaukee school district is expected to lose more than $12 million if the proposed budget is passed.[22]

The first public hearing on the proposed state budget held on March 18, 2015, also drew hundreds of attendees.[23]

New superintendent appointed

Dr. Darienne Driver was appointed the new superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools in October 2014, after serving as interim superintendent for three months. Driver is the district's first permanent female superintendent. She replaced Dr. Gregory Thornton, who left the district in July 2014 to serve the Baltimore City Public School System.[10]

Driver has worked in the district since July 2012. She served as the chief innovation officer, and was the first to hold such a role in the district, before taking on the position of interim superintendent. Before coming to Milwaukee, Driver served as the deputy chief of empowerment schools for the School District of Philadelphia.[10]

Debate over the fate of empty school buildings

Milwaukee Public Schools has a number of empty school buildings and a number of interested buyers, but what sounds like an easy solution for both parties is at odds with a so-called "funding flaw" that has made the district wary of selling.

St. Marcus Lutheran School is a private voucher school in Milwaukee looking to expand. The school offered to pay the district $880,000 for one of its empty buildings. Though the offer was equal to the appraised value of the building, Mayor Tom Barrett countered with a deal that would require St. Marcus to pay around $1.3 million over the next 10 years for the building. The increased price would help cover the cost of vouchers the city's taxpayers would have to pay over the next decade for students attending St. Marcus. The school's administrators declined the deal, claiming that the school brings a net benefit to taxpayers.[24] In August 2014, St. Marcus announced a deal to lease space not owned by Milwaukee Public Schools in order to open an early childhood education center.[25]

The dispute between private voucher school and district lies in a "funding flaw." If the district had sold a building, St. Marcus would have been able to broaden its enrollment, and more students might have left Milwaukee Public Schools to attend the private voucher school. The decrease in enrollment in the district would then have meant less state funding, but because the district is responsible for paying a portion of per-pupil vouchers, the district would have had to pay more money to schools like St. Marcus even though less money would be coming in. This "funding flaw" was corrected when state lawmakers expanded the voucher program statewide in the last state budget, but it is a correction that will take years to come to fruition. The disadvantage to Milwaukee Public Schools and the city's taxpayers will be corrected in 10 to 12 years time, but until then, the district is trying to avoid placing a larger tax burden on the city's residents.[24]

The district did find one way to avoid selling buildings to private voucher schools. It approved plans to turn one vacant school into a three-part space, including a renovated, International Baccalaureate school, low-income apartments and a commercial space. To do so, developers would have bought the building and made the renovations. Then the district would have leased back the reopened school, paying back the developers for the renovations. At the end of the lease, the district would have paid an additional $1 to buy the school. Though the plans were on track to have the newly renovated school open in the fall of 2015, very little progress was made the year after the deal was approved in the fall of 2013.[26] In September 2014, the district severed ties with its developer.[27] Instead of building a new International Baccalaureate school, the district announced plans to move an existing middle school into the empty building in fall 2016, after renovating the school on its own. The move is expected to cost the district $100,000.[28]

In response to the failed development plan, the Milwaukee Common Council approved new ordinances to allow the council to sell or lease unused Milwaukee Public Schools buildings. This is a power that they had already been given from the Wisconsin State Legislature, but the new ordinances create a process to solicit and evaluate proposals for city-owned buildings.[29]

The slow progress toward renovation and the district's resistance to selling its property to competitors has helped aggravate the issue to a state level. Republican lawmakers have twice tried to pass a bill that would require the city of Milwaukee to sell unused Milwaukee Public Schools property to non-district operators.[26] State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R) promised a third attempt to pass the bill would be coming up in the next legislative session.[24]

Contact information

Milwaukee Public Schools seal.jpeg
Milwaukee Public Schools
5225 W. Vliet Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wisconsin Information System for Education, "Enrollment (Single Year): Milwaukee Public Schools," accessed August 13, 2014
  2. Wisconsin Information System for Education, "HS Completion (Single Year): Milwaukee Public Schools," accessed August 13, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Milwaukee Public Schools, "District Fact Sheet," accessed August 13, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 United States Census Bureau, "Milwaukee County, Wisconsin," accessed August 13, 2014
  5. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
  6. Milwaukee County Election Commission, "Election Results," accessed August 13, 2014
  7. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  8. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Office of the Superintendent," accessed August 13, 2014
  9. Fox6, "Interim Superintendent announced: Dr. Darienne Driver to lead MPS," June 5, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 BizTimes, "Driver to lead MPS as permanent superintendent," October 1, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Milwaukee Public Schools, "Know Your Board Members," accessed August 13, 2014
  12. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Welcome to the Milwaukee Board of School Directors' Electronic School Board Meetings," accessed August 26, 2014
  13. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Financial Planning and Budget Services," accessed December 15, 2014
  14. Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, "2012-13 Salary Schedule," accessed August 14, 2014
  15. Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, "About Us," accessed August 14, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, "MTEA Elected Leaders," accessed August 14, 2014
  17. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Types of Schools in the MPS Family," accessed August 14, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "Report Cards," accessed February 5, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Education Week, "Milwaukee, other large school districts face takeover," May 21, 2015
  20. 20.0 20.1 ABC 2, "People sound off on governor's budget," March 20, 2015
  21., "Public school advocates to request hearing extension to testify against budget," March 19, 2015
  22. Opposing Views, "Scott Walker's Education Cuts Have Wisconsin Schools Preparing For Massive Layoffs," March 19, 2015
  23. NBC 26, "Budget public hearing packed in Brillion," March 18, 2015
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett proposes fee for voucher school to buy MPS building," July 31, 2014
  25. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "August 25, 2014
  26. 26.0 26.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "9 months after development deal, Malcolm X Academy remains empty," July 30, 2014
  27. Fox 6 Now, "Developer dumped, but what lies ahead for empty school building?" September 23, 2014
  28. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "MPS identifies school to move into empty Malcolm X Academy," November 4, 2014
  29. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee council OKs measures to ease sale of empty school buildings," October 14, 2014