A bill that would require the Milwaukee Public School District to sell vacant and unused buildings to charter and choice schools appears dead in the Wisconsin State Senate after passing the Assembly in February. On the last day of the session, AB417/SB318 did not appear on the senate calendar.
One of the lead sponsors of the bill, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis), issued this statement to RightWisconsin:
It is extremely disappointing that this critical bill appears to be killed in the Senate. I cannot imagine why a Senator would want to aid and abet the MPS School Board by allowing them to continue to prevent children residing in one of the poorest areas in the city from getting a high quality life-changing education from one of the best and proven successful voucher school operators in the Milwaukee. Killing this bill almost assuredly guarantees that St. Marcus will never be able to expand into the 6 year-long vacant Malcolm X building. That means more than 700 children will be forced to stay in the failing Milwaukee Public Schools that will remain their only option, increasing the likelihood of these children being sentenced to a life of poverty.
Along with expanding educational opportunities for children, passage of this bill would provide statewide taxpayer protection. Nearly 75% of the money MPS spends comes from state tax dollars. The MPS School Board's no-bid behind-closed-doors deal to sell Malcolm X to a company whose principal owner is a former MPS employee, gives away $2 million in taxpayer dollars to this sham entity. That means state taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of $1.75 million to fund this scam. In other words, state taxpayers are spending more money in Milwaukee to keep kids from being educated than many school districts around the state are getting to actually educate their children. Why this Senator wants to enable this to continue is beyond me.
The MPS vacant buildings bill was proposed largely in response to the corrupt MPS deal to avoid selling the Malcolm X Academy to a successful choice school.