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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interesting nuggets in the MPS audit

by folkbum

Working my way now through all 104 pages of the report (available in pdf form from the daily newspaper or the city's website). I'll be throwing up some of the more interesting things I see that were not reported by the media.
  • In the last five years, enrollment is down 10%, but the number of full-time employees is down 17%. Anyone who tells you we're not cutting fat is lying to you.
  • "Looking at participation, MPS could create additional savings of $0.2 – $0.4 million per year by increasing student participation in the breakfast program []. Based on data obtained from MPS, students participating in the breakfast program on a free or reduced-price basis contribute most positively to net profit (~$0.76 profit per meal). Additionally, all students eating lunch currently contribute negatively to profit, with paying students contributing most negatively at ~ -$0.68 profit per meal. This means that free/reduced breakfast-eaters essentially subsidize the lunch program." All those who whinged about MPS's spending a few thousand for iPods to encourage participation apparently wants MPS to lose money.
  • "MPS spends $7.6 million on county transit passes for students but receives only a 6 percent discount on weekly passes and no discount on daily passes. Other districts across the country commonly receive 25-50 percent discounts on student fares []. Chicago Public Schools, for example, enjoys a 51 percent discount on public transit fares for its students." My understanding is that this is not through a lack of effort on MPS's part, but stubbornness on the county's part. And given that most high schools have gone to daily passes (students who got weekly passes were more lkely to show up once a week--to get their passes), this is going to continue to hurt us for a long time.
  • The audit really, really does suggest pawning off 1,550 employees onto BadgerCare.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the audit reinforces, repeatedly, the notion that even if all $100m or so were saved annually by implementing the recommendations, MPS will still face a funding shortfall. Period.
Also, see work today from Bruce Murphy and Anneliese Dickman.

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