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.
Statutes require us to biennially complete a performance evaluation audit of the program. This is our fourth 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 will be transferred into the program for the 2023-24 school year.
Statutes require the Milwaukee County Executive to select a program commissioner, even if no MPS schools are in the program. We attempted on several occasions to contact the county executive’s office to determine whether the program commissioner position is vacant, but the county executive’s office did not respond to us.
Statutes specify separate eligibility criteria for school districts other than MPS. To be eligible, a school must be in a school district that had a membership of more than 15,000 students in the most-recent school year, was placed in the fails to meet expectations category in DPI’s two most-recent School and School District Accountability reports, and received intradistrict transfer aid in the two school years the school district was placed in the fails to meet expectations category.
In the 2021-22 school year, only the Madison Metropolitan and the Racine Unified school districts had more than 15,000 students and received intradistrict transfer aid. Neither of these school districts was placed in the fails to meet expectations category in the two most-recent School and School District Accountability reports. As a result, no schools from these two school districts will be transferred into the program for the 2023-24 or the 2024-25 school years.
The Racine Unified school district did not receive intradistrict transfer aid for the 2022-23 school year. If the school district continues to receive no intradistrict transfer aid in subsequent school years, its schools will no longer be eligible for the program.