The Milwaukee vacant schools issue results from decreasing demand for traditional Milwaukee public schools. In the last ten years, total enrollment at Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has declined by 11.5%. While some MPS schools offer a good education, the system overall has struggled mightily to deliver a safe and quality education. For example, MPS’ overall proficiency for the 2016-17 school year in math was 15.4% and for English Language Arts it was 20.1%. Arrests at traditional MPS schools are roughly 27 times higher than at private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). MPS’ four year graduation rate is 62.2%.
As a result, Milwaukee parents have used school choice to send their children to other schools. In the last ten years, enrollment at private schools in the MPCP has increased by 45% and independent charter schools by 47%. Right now, only 67% of children attend traditional district schools
The increase in school choice participation along with a long-term population decline (since 1990, Milwaukee’s population has declined by 5% or about 33,000 people ) are two significant reasons why MPS has vacant and under-utilized facilities. This has been well documented, starting in December 2010 with investigatory reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and subsequent reports by WILL, which will be referenced throughout this brief.
The complete study from Wisconsin Institute For Law and Liberty here > By the Numbers: MPS’ vacant and under-utilized schools crisis