Declining Enrollment + Declining Performance + Budget Crunch = Big Raises at MPS

MacIver News Service – [Milwaukee, Wisc…] Although overall enrollment and student performance in Milwaukee Public Schools has been down for years, administrator salary increases have made huge gains.

MPS lags its big-city peer districts in reading and math scores and has been listed as a “District Identified For Improvement” by the US Department of Education since 2006. While the district saw its enrollment decline by more than 8,000 students during those years as well,  some MPS administrative  salaries have jumped by nearly 40 percent since 2006.

Dozens of people make six-figure salaries at MPS. It’s difficult to identify all of them, because oftentimes, multiple people have the same job title and their salaries are combined into one line on the budget. However, when only one person holds a particular title, their salary is easily identified.

Using that limited information, MacIver News Service was able to identify two positions in the central office with anticipated salary increases of 38.6 percent from five years ago. Those positions are Director/Board Clerk (in the office of board governance) and the Communications Officer –Information (in the communications and public affairs office).

In the proposed 2011 budget, the board clerk will be making $138,683 (the same as last year). The Communications Officer will be making $111,283 (up nearly $5,000 from $106,491 last year).

Three positions with salary increases of more than 20 percent from five years ago include : School Nutrition Administrator (22.4 percent), Director of Labor Relations (25.4 percent), and Director of Student Services (28.5 percent). The salaries for those position in the proposed 2011 budget range from $106,553 to $132,162.

None of these calculations take into account increases in health and retirement benefits.

The position with the largest increase is the superintendent. In 2006, the position paid $160,000. When Gregory Thornton takes over the position this summer, he’ll be pulling in $265,000. That’s an increase of 65 percent from five years ago.

The district is currently working through a $33 million budget deficit from last year, and Superintendent William Andrekopoulos has proposed cutting as many as 680 employees to bridge the gap. Yet, as we reported yesterday, spending within the Superintendent’s office is slated to double from this year to next. We’ve also reported on the 17 full-time in-house painters who average $98,000 in annual salary and benefits.

MacIver News Service has filed an open records request with MPS for the exact number of current district employees who make more than $100,000 a year in salary, and will report that information when the request is fulfilled. According to an online database maintained by JSOnline, however, in the 2008-09 school year, 42 MPS employees in the central office alone had base salaries in excess of $100,000 with fringe benefits raning from $15,653 to $83,856.