OPINION | My perspective of MPS budget issues

MPS definitely has a budgetary problem.  What caused that problem?   Several factors (groups) have caused the budgetary issues facing MPS.  It is not only the administration, school board, but also the parents and teachers in the district which have caused many of our financial woes.1.Parents want what is best for their kids.For example, parents want IB programs, gifted and talent programs, etc.  The IB program is costing the district millions of dollars for startup, maintenance, exams, teacher training, and it all goes overseas to Geneva.   Some of these dollars come out the general fund as well as the referendum dollars. Some are paid for by grants which have a limited life span.  Are parents willing to give up IB in order to have some of the other amenities they want in the school?  From what I have heard the answer is a resounding NO.  In life one has to choose what is best for all and that is not happening in MPS.  Look at overcrowded classrooms.  Parents want to send their kids to the “best successful schools” like SW.  If the boundary originally established by administration, does not allow them to go to their preferred school  they raise a hue and cry to get the board to change the boundaries so that their kids can go to the “better” school.  Some of them if they do not get their way threaten the district with sending their kids to charter schools, private schools or leaving the district.  When they succeed we can get an overcrowded school.   Active enthused parents do not want to send their kids to a poorly performing school and they, the parents, community are needed in these schools.2. School board members also want what is best for the students. However they need to evaluate the impact of the decisions made.  For example boundary changes, selling buildings to charter schools, authorizing charter schools, removing successful programs from schools, making all schools IB, making drastic cuts to schools suddenly,  without giving parents time to evaluate what is happening as well as the impact of these cuts.  I mentioned above the impact of changing boundaries and IB.   Some charter schools are very successful and are supposed to share their “best practices” with MPS.  Some do share but are those best practices a reality for MPS with its time constraints and financial woes.  To me, authorizing a charter school or leasing our buildings to charters creates a financial woe to the district.  For example, charters sometimes use only a portion of an entire building, meaning that MPS has to maintain the rest of the building and make sure that the charter school is keeping up MPS standards for maintenance.    In addition charters pull MPS kids out of the system and thus reduce the revenue from these kids to help defray the cuts that are now currently in progress and potentially cause increase in class sizes and the laying off of teachers or other staff.  In the big picture I feel that this school board, the previous school boards and superintendents do not feel that MPS is capable of educating all the students that reside in MPS.3. Continue Reading