No one ever said it was going to be easy, but the road to the changes recommended in the Milwaukee Public Schools Long-Range Master Facilities Plan has perhaps been more winding than expected.
And that road, in some cases, it seems, has circled back on itself.
The report, prepared by an outside firm after months of research, suggested a number of moves, including closing some schools, moving others and altering the programs at still more.
While the recommendations were not yet proposed to the school board by MPS administration at least one school board member told me privately that he read the recommendations as if they were proposals.
Last night and this morning it became clear that many of the changes recommended for year one of the 10-year plan will not occur this coming year.
According to one source, the closing of Carver Academy will move forward, even though the plan to expand Maryland Avenue Montessori into that space has been rescinded.
Another source said that Burroughs and 68th Street School will also close as planned, but that the district is no longer seeking to shutter LaFollette.
While Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning’s move to Sarah Scott, and Garland’s move into the WCLL space will both move forward, plans to open a Montessori program in the Garland building have apparently been set aside.
Also, the plan to close the Montessori program at Kosciuszko has been abandoned and will exist instead as a school within a school in its current location. The transfer of the Hayes Bilingual program to the Kozy building is apparently also still in the works.
None of the sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, had information on the recommendations to expand the program at Golda Meir to include the M.E.C. campus, close 65th Street School and expand and relocate MacDowell Montessori.
“The recommendations in the report were never actual proposals,” said MPS spokesperson Roseann St. Aubin. “What we’re seeing is a funneling down now.”
St. Aubin said that funneling comes in the wake of meetings with various stakeholders, including school communities. Two schools – Hayes Bilingual and Maryland Avenue – still have meetings planned for Thursday evening with administration officials.
The specific reasons why each rescinded recommendation is off the table are unclear. Some moves might have required further planning, others may have faced too much opposition and it is possible that, in some cases, projected enrollments didn’t appear sufficient to sustain projected budgets.
St. Aubin wouldn’t speculate on whether or not the tabled changes would re-appear next year. But it seems likely at least some will.
The final administration proposals will be presented to the board’s Committee on Accountability, Finance and Personnel meets at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. The agenda and accompanying documentation – including those proposals – is expected to be published on the MPS portal later this week.