Bad management in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Public Schools waste $103 million a year, concludes a new study.  From the Journal-Sentinel:

The report mostly sidesteps the academic side of MPS, concentrating instead on business operations, from busing to lunch programs to purchasing practices to health insurance policies. It found waste in every area – inefficient payroll processing, overqualified maintenance teams, even pencil sharpeners that cost more than $100. The report also found more than five dozen central office jobs with six-figure salaries.

Milwaukee Public Schools is losing enrollment steadily, but spending hasn’t gone down.

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  1. I’m stunned. Shocked, really. The next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that people get hired in schools because of nepotism or political considerations.

  2. A Plea for Good Pencil Sharpeners 🙂

    I did find one pencil sharpener that retails for more than $100. Here’s the link:

    And according to Amazon the list price is just over $200:

    This particular model is billed as a high volume sharpener for commercial use. Left me wondering which businesses still use pencils commercially. I’m guessing that these models can only exist because enough schools buy them. Anyone know differently?

    I tutor math at a local high school, and boy do I love the pencil sharpener they have. It sharpens fast and evenly. With 25 students and tutors meeting just after school lets out this means no wasting time waiting in line! The model the high school uses lists for $55 and retails for about $35. I’d guess the major difference with the higher cost model is how long it lasts. Too bad the article didn’t mention a $/pencil/time analysis 🙂

  3. What terrible business management! My god, if they reassessed how they spend their non-educational budget, they could save between $58-103 million a year. Can you imagine a corporation being that out of control with finances? That certainly would never happen. All private businesses run their companies in the most efficient and responsible manners. Maybe if MPS keeps running their schools this inefficiently they’ll be eligible for a federal bailout someday!

    Please, people. They talk about how many of the administrators make over $100k as if it’s some terrible waste of money. How much do corporate executives make? And do they do any better managing their corporations? The article points to cuts they can make in salaries and health care. Because if there’s one thing I want–it’s minimum-wage earning people serving my kids lunch and maintaining the boiler room at school. What could possibly go wrong?

    I’m awfully sick of hearing how schools are constantly the worst managers of money and that their ineptitude costs residents by raising property taxes. How much are each of us going to have to pay on our taxes for the next many decades for the hundreds of billions of dollars given out in bailout money to FINANCIAL corporations that couldn’t stay solvent? Or to automakers because they couldn’t build a car people wanted to buy?

    Does the MPS have some problems? Probably. But don’t all large organizations? And why are schools’ problems aired like dirty laundry, whereas private corporations squander billions and then get bailed out by our government?

  4. My Boston pencil sharpener, which does a nice job, is about $55. I have to replace it about every 2 or 2 1/2 years. It gets pretty steady use all day (and, yes, I buy it myself — I get $35 for supplies every year — I guess that’s one way to cut “waste”).

    I can see having a commercial grade sharpener for testing in a large urban district. The kids all need #2 pencils — our district distributes them to make sure — I can’t imagine an urban district wouldn’t do the same.

  5. They’ve only wasted $103 million? Pikers. The Detroit Public Schools district could teach their Milwaukee counterparts a thing or two about wasting money having perfected the art over some decades.

  6. Dick Eagleson says:

    What allen said.

    Here in L.A., I have no idea how much money the LAUSD wastes per year – and if the LAUSD has its way, no one ever will either. However, as some criminal investigations done over the past few years have revealed, the LAUSD staff apparently steals more than Milwaukee wastes in a year. As with Milwaukee and Detroit, the LAUSD’s enrollment is falling too.

    But it’s all “for the children.”

  7. Andy Freeman says:

    > They talk about how many of the administrators make over $100k as if it’s some terrible waste of money. How much do corporate executives make? And do they do any better managing their corporations?

    It’s generally considered poor form for corporations to be on the public teat. Moreover, if I don’t like what a given corporation does, I don’t have to do biz with it. I don’t have to give it money. Tax supported institutions are different. If they don’t like being treated differently, they’re free to turn down tax revenue.

    Yes, bailouts are occurring. (The losses are largely due to govt action and regulations, but that detail isn’t necessary for my conclusion.) I oppose them. Unless you’re going to argue that bailouts are a good thing, you can’t point to them as an argument for mismanagement and waste by public entities.