MPS finance report problem could impact all state school districts

Milwaukee Public Schools is months behind on submitting multiple required financial reports to the state, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced Wednesday.

Not only could the delay cost MPS millions of dollars in state aid, every school district in Wisconsin could be affected.

"When you have the biggest school district in the state that gets the most aid, that calculation is really important," said Sachin Chheda, DPI executive director. "We are in an extraordinary circumstance where they are very late."

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DPI needs every school district in Wisconsin to submit their financial data, so the agency can decide how to allocate funds for its June 2024 financial general aid report. 

"There is no intent on DPI’s part to be punitive. Our goal isn’t to withhold money, our goal is to get the financial reports and financial data in place so we can do our work," Chheda said. "It affects what everybody gets."


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"If the state isn’t getting that number, it's having consequences for everybody," said Kevin Rich, Marquette University accounting department chair.

It very well could. DPI said every school district in the state may be delayed in receiving state aid next month as a result of the MPS delay.

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"If you can’t satisfy your regulators, it may question whether you are making good decisions internally," Rich said.

"I do think it's kind of shady that they didn't make their report dates," one MPS grandparent told FOX6.

DPI also said it may withhold next month's aid from MPS, which was around $16 million last year. Meanwhile, MPS said it is working to resolve the matter.

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)


MPS statement (issued Wednesday, May 30)

On Friday, MPS was notified by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that some funding may be delayed until certain financial reports are submitted to the state. District Administration and the Milwaukee Board of School Directors are engaging an external financial consultant to assist in submitting the required data and to improve this process moving forward. We are meeting daily with the Department of Public Instruction until the process is completed.

The Department of Public Instruction has confirmed with MPS that the district will be able to fully recoup any delayed funds when reports are complete. This issue will not have any impact on current staffing, hiring, or other district operations.

The district will work with the Department of Public Instruction to create an action plan to streamline the reporting process and ensure any concerns are identified and resolved moving forward. 

MPS Administration, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, and the Department of Public Instruction are all committed to providing the best outcomes for children in the City of Milwaukee. We will continue to work together through this process­.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

With 50 percent of our city’s students attending Milwaukee Public Schools, news about significant state funding at risk due to bureaucratic mismanagement is both shocking and infuriating. MPS owes an explanation to its stakeholders, most importantly the families it serves and taxpayers in our community. The most vulnerable and underfunded students – those with special needs – will be impacted directly because of the district’s malfeasance.

Just days ago, it was announced the U.S government has suspended funding for MPS’s Head Start program due to non-compliance. While the federal and state government have or plan to withhold funding to the district, taxpayers are on the hook for a massive tax increase later this year.  

The school district’s non-compliance with federal and state statutes should have been disclosed to the Milwaukee taxpayers, the majority of whom are working families,  before they were asked to increase the district’s budget by more than a quarter-billion dollars annually in April. It would have changed the narrative and forced the electorate to think twice about entrusting this amount of funding to a body who seemingly can’t manage it.  MPS has a transparency problem, and the state and federal governments are holding it accountable.  

We now ask the Milwaukee Public School Board to investigate the matter and hold those responsible fully accountable.  A deep, independent performance audit of the district must be conducted, and the results made public.  

Our students are told to complete their work and turn it in on time. MPS administration needs to be held to that same standard.