Michael Bonds

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Michael Bonds
Michael Bonds.jpg
Board member, Milwaukee Board of School Directors, District 3
In office
2007 - Present
Term ends
April 2019
Years in position 8
Elections and appointments
Last electionApril 2015
First electedApril 2007
Next general2019
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Master'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Ph.D.University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Office website
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Michael Bonds is the District 3 incumbent on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors in Wisconsin. He was first elected to the position in April 2007. He won re-election to a third consecutive term in the general election on April 7, 2015.

Bonds was also a 2012 Democratic candidate for District 6 of the Wisconsin State Senate. He withdrew prior to the primary election.[1]


Bonds has his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has served as a senior fiscal review analyst for the city of Milwaukee and an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.[2]

Board membership

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.

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.[3]



See also: Milwaukee Public Schools elections (2015)


Five seats on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors were up for election on April 7, 2015. Two of the races were contested.

District 2 incumbent Jeff Spence faced challenger Wendell Harris Sr. Stephany Pruitt challenged District 3 incumbent Michael Bonds.

Brian Eisold filed a declaration of candidacy to challenge at-large incumbent Terrence Falk. However, Eisold did not file the necessary nominating signatures, leaving Falk unopposed in his re-election bid. District 1 incumbent Mark Sain and candidate Carol Voss for District 8 were also unopposed in the election.

All of the incumbents except Spence, who was defeated by Harris, retained their seats, and Voss won her first term on the board in the open District 8 race.


Milwaukee Public Schools,
District 2 General Election, 4-year term, 2015
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngWendell Harris Sr. 62.5% 3,467
     Nonpartisan Jeff Spence Incumbent 37% 2,053
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.5% 26
Total Votes 5,546
Source: City of Milwaukee Election Commission, "April 7, 2015: Spring Election Summary Report," accessed April 22, 2015


Bonds began the race with an existing account balance of $668.57 from his previous campaign. He reported $2,025.00 in contributions and $2,056.48 in expenditures to Milwaukee Election Commission, which left his campaign with $637.09 in cash on hand as of March 30, 2015.[4]


Bonds had received no official endorsements as of January 9, 2015.


See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2012

Bonds ran in the 2012 election for Wisconsin State Senate, District 6,[5] however he withdrew from the race before the primary election. The general election is on November 6, 2012.[1]


Milwaukee Public Schools, District 3 General Election, 4-year term, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMichael Bonds Incumbent 100% 10,407
Total Votes 10,407
Source: Wisconsin Election Watch, "Michael Bonds," accessed September 22, 2014



Milwaukee Public Schools, District 3 Primary Election, 4-year term, 2007
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMichael Bonds 39.2% 941
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngStephanie Findley 28.5% 684
     Nonpartisan Leon Todd 24.2% 581
     Nonpartisan Markus J. Watts 8.2% 196
Total Votes 2,402
Source: Wisconsin Election Watch, "Michael Bonds," accessed September 22, 2014


Milwaukee Public Schools, District 3 General Election, 4-year term, 2007
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMichael Bonds 54% 2,452
     Nonpartisan Stephanie Findley 46% 2,088
Total Votes 4,540
Source: Wisconsin Election Watch, "Michael Bonds," accessed September 22, 2014

What was at stake?


The Milwaukee Board of School Directors could have seen up to a third of its membership replaced with newcomers in the 2015 election. Incumbents faced challengers in District 2 and 3, and one newcomer ran unopposed for the District 8 seat. Only two of the five seats up for election were guaranteed to see returning incumbents due to unopposed races for the at-large and District 1 seats.

The governing majority of the board lost two members in the 2015 election. The board of 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. The voting data indicates that Michael Bonds, Terrence Falk, Meagan Holman, Tatiana Joseph, Mark Sain, Jeff Spence and Claire Zautke were the governing majority on the board.[6] With Holman not seeking re-election and Bonds and Spence facing challengers, this governing majority was not guaranteed to continue. Ultimately, Holman and Spence were replaced in the 2015 election, leaving five of the governing majority members in office.

Issues in the district

Educators speak out at budget hearings

Hundreds of protesters joined Wisconsin lawmakers at the second of four public hearings on Gov. Scott Walker's (R) proposed state budget on March 20, 2015. The protesters spoke out against the proposed cuts to education.[7] “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.[7]

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.[8] The Milwaukee school district was expected to lose more than $12 million if the proposed budget was passed.[9] The first public hearing on the proposed state budget held on March 18, 2015, also drew hundreds of attendees.[10]

District and state suspension rates examined

While on average 10 percent of high school students nationwide were suspended in the 2011-2012 school year, Wisconsin had the highest suspension rate of black students according to a report published by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA on February 23, 2015. The high suspension rate of black students, however, did not translate to higher overall suspension rates in the state. Wisconsin also ranked in the top 20 districts for highest suspension rates of Latino and American Indian students, but the state was not in the top 20 district for overall suspension rate. Additionally, the study found at the same time Milwaukee Public Schools had the highest overall K-8 suspension rate among districts with at least K-8 enrollments of at least 3,000 and at least 100 black, Latino and white students.[11]

Black, American Indian & Latino students suspended more frequently
Specifically, 2 percent of elementary students and 7 percent of secondary students in Wisconsin were suspended in the 2011-2012 school year. The national average was 2.6 percent for elementary students and 10.1 percent for secondary students. Of the suspended elementary students in Wisconsin, 12.2 percent were black, 2.7 percent were American Indian, 2.0 percent were Latino, 1.0 were white and 0.4 were Asian American. The black/white percentage point gap of 11.2 was the second highest in the nation; only Missouri experienced a higher gap in elementary suspension rates between black and white students at 12.5 points. Wisconsin, however, had the highest point gap, 30 points, when it came to secondary student suspensions; 34 percent of the secondary students suspended were black, 12 percent were American Indian, 11 percent were Latino, 4 percent were white, 2 percent were 2 percent were Asian Americans and 2 percent were Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.[11]

MPS suspension rates decrease; still higher than average
In addition to Milwaukee Public Schools high suspension rate for elementary students, the district's secondary student suspension rate of 33 percent was more than triple the national average. The rate still represents an overall decline in the usage of suspension in the district. In the 2007-2009 school year, Milwaukee Public Schools suspended 56 percent of its black students; the study of 2011-2012 data showed that number dropping to 43 percent, and 2012-2013 state data indicated that 26 percent of black high school students were suspended that year.[12]

Spokesperson for the district Tony Tagliavia responded to the data, saying, "These trends reflect our continued work to make sure discipline is appropriate." According to the Journal Sentinel, some district teachers have reported that the reduction in suspensions has not translated into better classroom behavior, including saying that they have been told not to send students out of the classroom for issues such as swearing.[12]

In the conclusion of The Civil Rights Project study, the authors stated:

A school’s or district’s excessive use of exclusionary discipline should raise alarms about the negative impact on the learning environment, student achievement, graduation rates, and rates of juvenile crime and delinquency in the larger community. Elementary schools that suspend one out of ten students every year and secondary schools that suspend over a quarter of their enrollment—whether overall rates or for a major subgroup—are far out of line with most schools across the nation. This is made clear by looking at the distribution of suspension rates at both school levels. Specifically, there are more schools and districts at the low end of the suspending spectrum than at the high end. However, we do not suggest that slightly lower rates are healthy or that racial disparities within lower-suspending schools and districts are not problematic.[13]

—Daniel Losen, Cheri Hodson, Michael A. Keith II, Katrina Morrison and Shakti Belway, (2015)[11]

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.[14]

Driver had 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.[14]

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.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

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.[15] 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.[16]

The dispute between private voucher school and district laid 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 was a correction that would take years to come to fruition. The disadvantage to Milwaukee Public Schools and the city's taxpayers would be corrected in 10 to 12 years time, but until then, the district was trying to avoid placing a larger tax burden on the city's residents.[15]

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.[17] In September 2014, the district severed ties with its developer.[18] 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 was expected to cost the district $100,000.[19]

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.[20]

The slow progress toward renovation and the district's resistance to selling its property to competitors helped aggravate the issue to a state level. Republican lawmakers tried twice to pass a bill that would have required the city of Milwaukee to sell unused Milwaukee Public Schools property to non-district operators.[17] State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-15) promised a third attempt to pass the bill would coming up in the next legislative session.[15]

About the district

See also: Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin
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 is home to 956,023 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[21] During the 2011-2012 school year, Milwaukee Public Schools was the largest school district by enrollment in Wisconsin and served 79,130 students.[22]


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.[21]

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.[21]

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.[21]

Racial and political demographics

Racial Demographics, 2013[21]
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[23]
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: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[24][25]

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "2012 Candidate List (dead link)
  2. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Michael Bonds," accessed September 22, 2014
  3. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Welcome to the Milwaukee Board of School Directors' Electronic School Board Meetings," accessed August 26, 2014
  4. Milwaukee Election Commission, "Campaign Finance Reports 2015 Election Cycle," accessed April 1, 2015
  5. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "2012 Candidate List (dead link)
  6. Milwaukee Public Schools, "Welcome to the Milwaukee Board of School Directors' Electronic School Board Meetings," accessed August 26, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 ABC 2, "People sound off on governor's budget," March 20, 2015
  8. OnMilwaukee.com, "Public school advocates to request hearing extension to testify against budget," March 19, 2015
  9. Opposing Views, "Scott Walker's Education Cuts Have Wisconsin Schools Preparing For Massive Layoffs," March 19, 2015
  10. NBC 26, "Budget public hearing packed in Brillion," March 18, 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The Center Civil Rights Remedies, "Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?," February 23, 2015
  12. 12.0 12.1 Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin black suspension rate highest in U.S. for high schools," March 1, 2015
  13. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  14. 14.0 14.1 BizTimes, "Driver to lead MPS as permanent superintendent," October 1, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett proposes fee for voucher school to buy MPS building," July 31, 2014
  16. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Henry Tyson charted unlikely path to Milwaukee education debates," August 25, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "9 months after development deal, Malcolm X Academy remains empty," July 30, 2014
  18. Fox 6 Now, "Developer dumped, but what lies ahead for empty school building?" September 23, 2014
  19. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "MPS identifies school to move into empty Malcolm X Academy," November 4, 2014
  20. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee council OKs measures to ease sale of empty school buildings," October 14, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 United States Census Bureau, "Milwaukee County, Wisconsin," accessed August 13, 2014
  22. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
  23. Milwaukee County Election Commission, "Election Results," accessed August 13, 2014
  24. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  25. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.