MPS

Nicole Beilke

Every few days during the school year, a class of MPS 4th graders spills into the lounge of the Milwaukee Ballet School.

They drop off their backpacks then hurry to change clothes. In a few minutes, the 20 students reappear - the girls dressed in leotards and tights, the boys in white t-shirts and shorts - and all are wearing ballet slippers.

Nine-year-old Karena Hurtdo-Reyes explains the program’s name. “Relevè means to rise up,” she says.

After translating the French word, she demonstrates relevè by pressing up on her tiptoes and holding her balance.

Rachel Morello

We now know more about what the Milwaukee county executive and his designee plan to do with failing MPS schools.

Michelle Maternowski

The Milwaukee Public Schools system has been shrinking in terms of enrollment. Now, it could lose more buildings, too.

When a school closes, it goes on a list of vacant, or “surplus” properties.

Friday, the Common Council approved five interested entities who can buy those buildings. Not on the list: MPS.

Photo Courtesy of Danceworks

In the 2005 documentary film “Mad Hot Ballroom,” viewers saw how the lives of New York City public school kids were impacted by dance.

Around that same time, dance was taking center stage in pop culture. Movies like “Step Up” and television shows like “Dancing With the Stars” scored big audiences – many of the viewers were kids.

Leaders on Milwaukee’s dance scene took notice, and decided it was time to open up the art form to kids who might not otherwise experience it.

Rachel Morello

Milwaukee residents had their first chance Thursday night to speak up about the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program, an initiative lawmakers put in place to turn around the lowest-performing Milwaukee Public Schools. 

In November, County Executive Chris Abele appointed Dr. Demond Means, superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville district, to head the project. Means is tasked with devising a plan to boost student achievement, and says he wants public input on what that plan should look like.  

Jabril Faraj / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

The so-called recovery school district within Milwaukee Public Schools - the entity made up of a handful of struggling schools which the state put under the control of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele - has gotten much of the attention and headlines in recent months. Abele recently appointed Mequon-Thiensville superintendent Demond Means as the part-time commissioner of the district.

But a less-heralded retreat on charter schools held by the MPS board could also usher in significant changes in the school climate here. 

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.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has chosen Dr. Demond Means, superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District and an MPS graduate to lead the Milwaukee Turnaround District. The newly formed district will consist of several of the worst-performing Milwaukee Public Schools. State leaders gave Abele the authority to appoint the head of the new district in the 2015-2017 state budget. WUWM recently spoke with Means about his theories for raising academic achievement among students of color.

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.

FRANK JUAREZ / FLICKR

The Milwaukee School Board will hold its first meeting Thursday since the Legislature’s budget committee approved several items that could greatly impact MPS. Perhaps the biggest would be the creation of a Recovery School District. 

It would give an independent commissioner oversight over failing MPS schools. At Thursday night’s school board meeting, members are expected to discuss giving the MPS superintendent similar powers.

Milwaukee School Board member Larry Miller says the state budget language stunned him.

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.

Emory Maiden / Flickr

Two Republican lawmakers are working on a plan that would turn over control of several struggling Milwaukee Public Schools to an independent body.  Details of the plan by Representative Dale Kooyenga and Senator Alberta Darling emerged this week, though no bill has yet been introduced.

FRANK JUAREZ / FLICKR

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.

Pages