Milwaukee Public Schools will have a nearly $11 million operating budget deficit for 2010, according to a report released Wednesday.
The district will pay $7.3 million as a result of the overspending, since the district previously had a $3.4 million surplus, according to the MacIver Institute.
The report said 93 schools in Milwaukee reported a budget deficit, with 19 of those schools overspending their budgets in amounts exceeding $200,000.
In the district, 58 percent of all schools had budget deficits, with an average of over $131,000, according to the report.
MPS acknowledges the district is facing tough financial times.
“Milwaukee Public Schools is in financial crisis as it strives to provide educational opportunities in a very competitive marketplace,” said MPS superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton in his budget overview.
According to the report, the MPS Board blamed several factors that led to the deficits.
The largest of these causes were the salaries of teachers, teachers’ aide, and part-time teachers, which accounted for $3.2 million in overages. Services such as textbooks, supplies for classrooms and building modifications added to the deficits as well.
However, not every school in Milwaukee outspent its budget this year.
Even though most schools posted deficits, 67 schools also had budget surpluses, including four schools that had over $100,000 left over.
With these deficits in 2010, next year could bring similar struggles for the school district.
According to the proposed 2011 budget release from MPS, the district faces grim problems that will require cuts in all areas and 2.5 percent decreases in overall spending.
The district will cut their operations budget, the budget that pays daily expenses, by over $10 million and cut their construction budget by nearly $27 million.
To cut costs, the district will implement a number of cost-saving reductions.
The district will eliminate a total of 684 jobs at all levels and further layoffs are very likely, Thornton said in his overview of the budget.
The largest of these cuts will be teachers and therapists, who will lose 260 jobs in 2011, according to the MPS budget.
In his outline of the 2011 budget, Thornton admits that cuts to teachers will result in larger class sizes and less help being available for students.
In all, the school system will cut almost 6.5 percent of its workforce – still three times its projected 2.1 percent decrease in enrollment. In the past, the district has tried to keep reductions in staff equal to reductions in enrollment, according to the MPS.
In addition, at the end of this fiscal year in June, the district will close seven schools to deal with the deficit. MPS will also merge three high schools into a single school.
These changes should result in over $7 million in savings for the district in the next four years, according to MPS.
Despite these cuts, MPS says they will still focus on furthering educational opportunities to students.
“Amidst all the pressures and all the change, there are the two crucial constants – children, and the mission to educate them,” Thornton said.