I'm violating my very wise general policy not to blog on matters concerning Milwaukee Public Schools or the Milwaukee Board of School Directors (my employers) in order to invite everyone to speak yer mind Thursday, Nov. 1, on the proposed 16.4% school tax levy increase.
The School Board will hold a public hearing on the matter at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the central services building, 5225 W. Vliet St.
The proposed budget was released Friday, but most people didn't find out about the proposed tax hike until yesterday, when the JS ran a story about it. The School Board was scheduled to vote on it last night, but just five or six people turned out to comment on it. Ald. Michael Murphy asked that at least one more public hearing be held, and School Board members agreed.
The district's proposed levy-supported funding is up about 2.6%, but the proposed levy is up way, way because the district's state aid is dropping by about $19 million due to declining enrollment and a funding formula that equates property value to wealth (Milwaukee's property value went up, so presto, the district is rich compared to a year ago!). On top of that, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program private school tax is rising from $49 million to $54 million. That particular tax burden is a gift from the state that is only visited upon Milwaukee property taxpayers.
That's the short version of why the levy increase. The long version, with descriptions of spending proposals and how they changed since spring (when the Board adopted a preliminary budget), is here. It's item 5d, or Vd in Roman numeral terminology, on the agenda.