Push for increase in funding for Milwaukee Public Schools continues

NOW: Push for increase in funding for Milwaukee Public Schools continues

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The push for a referendum to increase funding for Milwaukee Public Schools continues.

Supporters say if voters don't choose yes on their April ballots, critical cuts could be headed to MPS.

A press conference Thursday morning included former Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, along with MPS board leaders and some Common Council members.

"I am a proud product of our MPS school system. I'm also the proud son of a retired Milwaukee Public School teacher. I'm standing here today simply because of the quality education I received, making sure that quality education is accessible to children for future generations," said Barnes.

The group is gearing up efforts to get this latest referendum passed. "This situation is getting worse than what we thought," said Marva Herndon, MPS board president.

The referendum would provide an additional $252 million in school funding. "We deserve this," Herndon said.

The group says there could be serious implications if the referendum fails, including staff layoffs and cuts to student resources.

"If the referendum doesn't pass, what it means for children and buildings is a 13% cut," said Ingrid Walker-Henry, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA).

She says no referendum could lead to schools losing art, music, and physical education. "Those are the things we know that families value," said Walker-Henry.

About 1$25 million of the funding the referendum aims to add would come from local property taxes. If passed, property taxes would initially raise $216 per $100,000 in property value.

CBS 58 took the issue to the streets and asked people what they thought about a tax hike to support MPS.

"Where else would the money come from?" one woman said. Others questioned exactly where the extra money would go to and said there should be a closer look at better solutions.

"The public schools need to do a little more than what they're doing," another woman said. Most people we spoke to were, however, in favor of more support for schools.

Supporters of the referendum are also pushing for more state aid for schools and say the last time the state budget kept up with inflation was 2009.

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