Task force to recommend Milwaukee Public Schools ask voters for tax increase

NOW: Task force to recommend Milwaukee Public Schools ask voters for tax increase

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A special task force recommends the Milwaukee School Board ask voters to pass a referendum increasing taxes for operations.

After meeting for eight hours over four different sessions, the task force's recommendation said state law has hurt Milwaukee students.

"Our students aren't doing as well as they should be doing, our school district doesn't have the funding that it needs," said task force member Reggie Jackson.

Members said Milwaukee Public Schools receive less money per student than many surrounding districts, and unlike those districts, hasn't gone to voters to ask for more money in 25 years.

"Most communities in Wisconsin have approved referendums over the last decade, some multiple times," said Task Force member Nicole Agesano.

While the school board has the ultimate say, members said the additional money could be used to increase teacher pay, hire more teachers, and offer art, music, and gym classes.

The Milwaukee Teachers Union commissioned a poll independently of the task force. The results show 62 percent of likely primary voters would be willing to pay more in taxes. The poll said the strongest results were for an increase of $150 for every $100,000 a home is worth.

"They're with us, with Milwaukee Public Schools, students, and they're excited to be with us," said MTEA President Amy Mizialko.

It's a big ask, but one the task force believes is critical.

"We need the funds that our school district doesn't have, so that our students are better off," said Jackson.

The task force will present its findings to the board on Thursday, Dec.12. It recommends placing a referendum on the April 2020 primary ballot.

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