Marti Mikkelson

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and his new commissioner of failing MPS schools say they don’t intend to step on any toes. 

On Thursday, Abele introduced the person he’s selected for the job – Dr. Demond Means, superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville district.

State law now tasks him with taking control of the lowest performing MPS schools and boosting their student achievement. Means can restructure up to three schools in each of the next two years, and up to five, afterward.

LaToya Dennis

A group of Milwaukee area kids is headed to Washington D.C. this week to compete in a national high school computer competition. The teens are developing skills that lead to positions companies often have a hard time filling.

Alvin Cherry is like a lot of 15 year olds. The Rufus King junior likes football and hanging out with friends, but at the top of his list are video games.

“They’re so cool, it’s like my favorite form of entertainment. It’s fun. I just like video games. I want to be a video game developer when I grow up,” Cherry says.

Jabril Faraj / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

The effort to create the so-called Milwaukee Excellence Charter School took a hit this past spring when the proposal was tabled after a split vote by the MPS School Board. However, it is expected that the plan will be going back in front of the board for further consideration soon.

Milwaukee Public Schools

Before becoming Class of 2015 valedictorian and salutatorian at Morse Marshall School for the Gifted, Anthony Eruchalu and Ia Thao had to adjust to their new school system and language. Eruchalu's family moved here from Nigeria, Thao's from Thailand.

“It was very hard to adapt. Like just trying to fit in and learning the new language was very difficult for me. First day of school, I hated it. I didn’t know what to do. I would just sit at the desk, staring at the wall, very nervous. I didn’t know what to do. So it was very hard to adapt to the new country,” Thao admits.

Milwaukee Public Schools will hold the final public hearing Thursday on its proposed budget for next school year. The district faces a $29-million deficit brought on by falling state and federal aid.

Gov. Walker has proposed cutting $127 million from public schools next year. That number could change when lawmakers take up K12 spending in coming weeks, but if it doesn’t, MPS would lose $12 million. On top of that, Superintendent Darienne Driver says the district’s federal funding is going down by $17 million.


A couple of state lawmakers say they have a plan to turn around the most underperforming public schools in Milwaukee. The proposal by Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Rep. Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield would give the Milwaukee County executive authority to appoint new leaders in MPS schools that are deemed as failing.

Neither legislator returned our calls seeking comment Monday.

Their proposal would allow County Executive Chris Abele to appoint a commissioner charged with turning around up to five underperforming MPS schools per year.

Erin Toner

Milwaukee Public Schools says it has a plan to turn around Bradley Tech. 

The south side high school opened more than a century ago as the first public school to teach the trades.  Over the decades, it churned out graduates prepared for jobs with local industry, and in 2002, donors helped build a new state-of-the-art building.

But last year, Bradley Tech ranked last among MPS high schools on measures including academic performance and college readiness. The school also struggles with behavioral problems and absenteeism.

Erin Toner

Thousands of students and hundreds of millions of public dollars that might have gone to Milwaukee Public Schools instead went to private schools in the last quarter century. Still, several MPS schools are showing improvement.

frankjuarez / Flickr

The state's report cards on school and school district success came out earlier this fall. Those performance measurements look at areas including student achievement and growth, a school's success in closing performance gaps and readiness for post-secondary education.

Milwaukee’s brand new school superintendent has inherited an old problem. What should MPS do, with its shuttered school buildings?