Milwaukee teachers vote down proposal to modify contract

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee teachers union voted down a proposal modify their 2010 contract -- and contribute a week of pay to Milwaukee Public Schools in an effort to help reduce class sizes.

3,931 members from MTEA (Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association) voted on the matter. 2,296 teachers voted against modifying the contract and 1,635 were in favor of the idea.

Now, Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton is weighing in on the matter. He spoke with FOX6's Sharita Erves Tuesday. Thornton said, "I was disappointed.  Anytime we have an opportunity to lower class size, which I think is a major driver in our reform, it is something you want to look forward to."

Why did union members vote down this plan? MTEA President Bob Peterson weighed in and said, "Many people pointed out that they've made financial sacrifices and have given to the kids a lot in terms of buying food, office supplies, books and that the kind of  request we're making of 2.6% of their salary was just too large of a request to be in favor of."

Peterson aimed some of the blame on cuts made by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature's budget. But Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says everyone knew the cuts were coming.

"We knew from the very beginning that we were facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit left to us by the previous administration," said Kleefisch. "So that's why Governor Walker and our legislature said listen, we need to put these great reforms in place so that school districts can find some other ways to grab some money."

MPS officials say they are taking steps to address class sizes internally. But they'll be looking for the community's support during that process.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.