MPS will layoff 354 teachers for next school year

CREATED Jun 29, 2011 - UPDATED: Jun 30, 2011

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MILWAUKEE- Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton announced at a news conference this afternoon that 519 layoff notices would be issued for next school year, including 354 teachers.

Most of the teachers cuts come at the elementary level. The district has about 125 elementary schools. Those most affected are the ones that lost SAGE class reduction initiative funds.

The layoffs are the result of a number of budgetary factors, including the loss of $84 million in state aid to MPS in the state budget for 2011-'13, Thornton said in a news release.

Thornton earlier this year had projected 989 full-time equivalent positions would be cut, nearly 10% of the teacher workforce. But he said then that it did not mean nearly 1,000 jobs would be lost. Many positions are vacant; others would be cut through attrition.

Governor Scott Walker's 2011-13 included $834 million cuts to education funding across the state, including a large portion of cuts being applied to Milwaukee Public Schools. 

His spokesman blamed the Milwaukee teachers' union for not following through on measures that he said would have assisted in mitigating job losses.

"During the budget process, the Legislature and the Governor gave school districts the ability to open up existing contracts, so they could receive savings from increased public employee contributions, without modifying the collective bargaining provisions of the contract. Instead of following their statewide union leader, even with that exact option made available to the school district due to legislative compromise, MTEA would rather layoff teachers than contribute a modest amount toward their benefits," said spokesman Cullen Werwie.

"In other school districts that have utilized the tools available to them, class sizes are going down, budgets are balanced, taxes are held in check, and they still have enough money to begin financially rewarding the best and brightest teachers."

Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association Bob Peterson responded.

"Governor Scott Walker and Senator Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, have slashed funding for public education across the state. For students, families, and educators of our district, the governor’s unprecedented cuts are especially devastating.

"Instead of creating jobs, Governor Walker and his Republican supporters have forced the elimination of hundreds of family-sustaining jobs in Milwaukee."  

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