Layoffs are going out to more than 500 staffers in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Superintendent Gregory Thornton announced the layoffs, after his request for pension contributions of up to 5.8 percent were turned down by the teachers union. “I asked for the opportunity to begin to have a conversation around what it could take to mitigate the layoffs that are out there,” said Thornton. “A 5.8 percent contribution on the part of unions would put us the neighborhood of somewhere around $200 million, and that would basically reduce our layoffs by approximately 200 people.”
But the biggest impact on the state’s biggest district is the loss of approximately $84 million in state aid under Governor Scott Walker’s budget. Thornton said the cuts will be felt in numerous ways, including larger class sizes, fewer textbooks and decreased summer opportunities. “We’re in the middle of a situation that certainly the children did not cause,” said Thornton. Of the 519 employees receiving notices, 354 are teachers and the majority had been assigned to elementary schools. The arts and physical education take a hit – the layoffs include 38 art teachers, 13 music teachers and 27 phy-ed teachers. Teachers receiving layoff notices will receive information on how to apply for work as substitute teachers.
MPS has more than 80,000 students in 184 schools. The districts Fiscal 2011 budget includes 9,958 full time equivalent staff positions.