MPS finance scandal: 'Corrective Action Plan' submitted to state

Milwaukee Public Schools submitted an updated draft for corrective action to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the board announced Tuesday.

The plan, which is required to demonstrate how the district plans to fix its financial mess, is the third MPS has submitted to DPI so far. It is by far the most detailed version yet – it shows the school district isn't just overdue on reporting data, its finance office must be rebuilt.

"We are committed to resolving the issues surrounding the delayed financial data submission," MPS Board President Marva Herndon said in a statement. "In addition to submitting the Corrective Action Plan to DPI, we are actively analyzing the root causes behind this situation, and we pledge to keep our families, staff and the public informed as we progress."

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MPS said a lack of experienced staff led to significant delays in reporting financial data to the state agency. It has already cost the school district more than $16 million.

Tuesday's draft plan shows 60% of the MPS finance office's jobs are vacant when accounting for contracted employees. What's worse, the plan states the finance office relied on the "institutional knowledge" and experience of long-serving staff.

MPS said, when those people left, their "knowledge and experience...left with them." The plan noted there is little documentation on internal accounting policies that would act as guidance.

The draft plan lays out timelines for permanent hires and training to get them up to speed. But the problem isn't just people.

MPS said its financial system does not integrate into the state's system, meaning staff have had to use external files – increasing the risk of data errors. The district will work to update its system to streamline its data reporting to DPI.

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The draft also states MPS will submit all overdue data, which was due in September and December 2023, by late September of this year.

MPS is evaluating its chief financial officer position, the draft plan stated, because a change in leadership is likely.

DPI told FOX6 it is reviewing the draft plan and hopes to have an agreed-upon version later this week.


MPS finance scandal: Evers calls for audits, mayor offers help

Gov. Tony Evers called for additional audits of Milwaukee Public Schools – and Mayor Cavalier Johnson offered support from the city – on Friday.

The school board said it plans to allow public comment on the 2024-2025 budget during its Thursday, June 13 meeting. 

"First and foremost, our top priorities are our students, families and staff. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability, we look forward to hearing from our valued stakeholders," Board Vice President Jilly Gokalgandhi said in a statement. "We trust the engagement will be polite, respectful and related to the matter at hand, which is the 2024-25 budget."

Thursday's special meeting will take place at the MPS Central Services Building near 52nd and Vliet at 5:30 p.m. It will also be live streamed. Details on how to register as a virtual speaker or ot submit written testimony can be found on the MPS website.