A Small MPS Reform Could Save Money, Add to the Tax Base, and Enhance Competition
People have been looking for a magic bullet to fix Milwaukee’s education system, and although what I proposed here isn’t the broad sweeping change many are looking for, I do believe in making incremental changes, when possible, to improve individual processes. Currently, the Milwaukee Public Schools system (“MPS”) has at least 15 vacant school buildings, many that have sat unsold for years, and a broken process to handle these sales. Certainly, the decision to close and designate a facility as surplus should be considered carefully, but once the decision is made the goal needs to be putting the property back in to active use as quickly as possible.
The other significant issue with the land sale process involves MPS hiring of an outside brokerage firm and legal aide to facilitate the land sale. This costs taxpayers additional funds and lengthens the land sale process. Further, the City of Milwaukee has a department, the Department of City Development, which has extensive land sale and redevelopment experience that could be better utilized to quicken the process. It’s small, but it’s a duplication of resources that can be eliminated, and one that would likely lead to MPS properties getting on the tax roles in a shorter time frame.
This reform won’t significantly impact MPS’s performance or solve the education problem, but it would shorten the land sale process, save money, add to the tax base, and enhance competition.