Report on school takeover law released
The Legislative Audit Bureau has released an audit of a program created to take over public school districts. The takeover program was created in the 2015-17 state budget under then-governor Scott Walker.
To date and reaching into 2019-20, no schools have been transferred into the program, dubbed the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program by its authors. That signals a success for neighborhood support of local control when it comes to public schools.
When it was first tucked into the budget in 2015 by the Republican legislative majority, community outrage exploded over the idea of taking away local control of neighborhood schools. The Department of Public Instruction announced in 2016 that Milwaukee Public Schools was no longer in danger under the law of losing local control, as scores on the state school report card were not in the bottom category for two consecutive years. Governor Evers budget proposed eliminating the program, but the 2019-21 budget retains the program.
The LAB includes recommendations in this brief, including that the State Superintendent should report schools that would qualified to be forced into the program and that the vacant school commissioner position should be reported to lawmakers. It’s unclear whether that will happen, but either way, the communities that could be impacted by this law (MPS, Madison Metropolitan School District and Racine Unified School District) must remain vigilant.