Milwaukee Public Schools submits missing financial information to state

MPS will launch national search for next superintendent

ilwaukee Board of School Directors President Marva Herndon and Superintendent Keith Posley listen during a virtual board meeting on Oct. 26, 2023
From left, Milwaukee Board of School Directors President Marva Herndon and Superintendent Keith Posley listen during a virtual board meeting on Oct. 26, 2023. The board was discussing the performance of the Milwaukee Education Partnership, which has drawn nearly $1.3 million in no-bid contracts from Milwaukee Public Schools over the past decade. Screenshot view YouTube

Milwaukee Public Schools submitted missing financial data and a corrective action plan to the Department of Public Instruction, which could mean the district won’t lose millions of dollars in state funding. 

MPS Board President Marva Herndon told reporters Wednesday the district is waiting for DPI to review the documents. 

“Next week we will meet with our auditors to determine next steps in certification of the district’s annual audit,” Herndon said. “As this work is being completed, the district is ensuring these issues do not happen again.” 

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DPI spokesman Chris Bucher confirmed the paperwork was submitted.

“The department has received additional budget data from MPS, and we are reviewing that information,” Bucher said. “MPS also provided initial submission of content related to a corrective action plan, and we are working with them to finalize a corrective action plan. I do not have a specific timeline on that approval at this time.”

In late May, DPI released a letter showing  MPS had not provided “key financial data” despite numerous meetings with the state. 

In its letter to the district, DPI said that until it receives the required financial reports, some of which are more than eight months overdue, it may withhold this month’s special education payment to MPS. In June of last year, that payment totaled $15.7 million.

MPS’ delay in sending the documents makes it impossible for the DPI officials to calculate aid estimates for other public school districts in 2024-25. 

To avoid the financial cuts, the state needs information from MPS by July 1 and a corrective action plan that will then face DPI approval.

“People have asked why and how we’ve experienced these issues ,” Herndon said. “I can tell you we’re investigating and we will provide updates as soon as we’re able to do so. The district will expedite this project to ensure these challenges are fully resolved until then, we will continue to meet with all of our stakeholders.”

As news of the financial missteps came to light over the last several weeks, there has been community outcry, leading to the resignation early Tuesday morning of Superintendent Keith Posley. 

The MPS comptroller position has been vacant since Monday, although the district would not say if former comptroller Alfredo Balmaseda was terminated or resigned. 

MPS hired a financial consultant Todd Gray this week, who recently assisted the Glendale-River Hills School District.

The former superintendent of the Waukesha School District will be paid up to $48,000, according to the district. The hiring of a financial consultant was recommended by DPI.

National search will be held for new MPS superintendent

Board vice president Jilly Gokalgandhi said the board will consider possible candidates for an interim superintendent during a closed-session meeting next week. The list of possible candidates will be shared publicly at that time. 

Once that person is named, a national search will be launched for a permanent superintendent, Gokalgandhi said.

In the meantime, MPS Regional Superintendent for the Southwest Region Eduardo Galvan will run day-to-day operations. 

Next week, the board will also consider the 2024-25 budget, which has been delayed while the debacle with DPI was handled. 

The uproar over the administrative missteps have led to calls by elected officials and community members for MPS hold off on implementing a $252 million tax increase narrowly approved by voters in an April referendum. Gokalgandhi said Wednesday the district still needs the money.