While many urban districts have been forced to axe music and art education, Milwaukee Public Schools continues to enrich those programs.
Denise Callaway is MPS’ executive director of community engagement.
“We know that art, music and physical education aren’t extra things that children get, they’re important parts of a well-rounded education,” she says. “This year, for the coming school year, we’ll be adding 50 new teachers as part of the FY-15 budget. That will have a net increase of 142 art, music and physical education positions over the past three years.”
Callaway says the district would also add a support teacher in every K-12 school. She says support teachers work alongside classroom teachers to improve instruction.
Overall, the 2014-2015 MPS budget cuts spending by nearly 3 percent. The district is realizing savings by cutting spending on wages and benefits.
“We’ve been able to restructure some of our benefit pieces, and that has allowed us to focus more dollars in to the classroom,” Callaway says.
She says in 2010, MPS spent about 80 cents of every dollar directly on classroom instruction. That’s risen to 87 cents.
MPS Central Services would also face cuts in the new budget.
“We really have to sit down and evaluate our priorities to determine what services we offer now that we either have to reduce, eliminate or change in some way to live within those dollars we have now in Central Services,” Callaway says.
She says layoffs are not being considered at this time.