Report 21-8 | May 2021
2015 Wisconsin Act 55, the 2015‑17 Biennial Budget Act, created the opportunity schools and partnership program. Student achievement and other factors determine whether public schools are eligible for transfer into the program. Statutes include separate eligibility criteria for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and all other school districts. No schools have been transferred into the program to date. No MPS schools will be eligible for transfer into the program for the 2021‑22 school year. No schools in other school districts will be eligible for transfer into the program for the 2021‑22 or the 2022‑23 school years.
Statutes require us to biennially complete a performance evaluation audit of the program. This is our third audit of the program.
A given MPS school is eligible for transfer into the program if MPS was placed in the fails to meet expectations category in the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI’s) most-recent School and School District Accountability Report and that school either was placed in the fails to meet expectations category or is in a vacant or underutilized school building. No MPS schools were transferred into the program for the 2020‑21 school year. 2019 Wisconsin Act 185 prohibited DPI from publishing the School and School District Accountability Report in November 2020. As a result, no MPS schools will be transferred into the program for the 2021‑22 school year.
Statutes require the Milwaukee County Executive to select a program commissioner, even if no MPS schools are in the program. Statutes also require the county executive to notify the Governor and the mayor of the City of Milwaukee if the commissioner position becomes vacant. The Governor, the county executive, and the mayor are each statutorily required to appoint an individual who is not an elected official to compile a list of nominees for the commissioner position. No county executive has notified the Governor and the mayor that the commissioner position has been vacant since June 2016. We recommend that the county executive comply with statutes by notifying the Governor and the mayor that the commissioner position is vacant.