Milwaukee Public Schools spends $14K+ on each student

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MILWAUKEE -- New Census numbers show Milwaukee Public Schools spends more than $14,000 on each student every school year. Among the nation's biggest school districts, only three others spend more than that.

MPS officials say those numbers are from 2010 and are dated. Spokesperson Roseann St. Aubin says over the last two years, the district has enacted reforms that save money -- especially on employee benefits.

"More contributions from employees to healthcare in their deductibles and in their pensions, also taking additional contributions from employees, we were able to save $20 million," said St. Aubin.

FOX6 News talked with Dale Knapp of the Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance. He says it'd take an extensive study to determine how well those reforms are working.

"There's so many moving parts each year in terms of what's going on in a district as large as MPS in terms of students counts and teacher counts and various staff movements," said Knapp.

MPS officials say much of the spending is beyond their control -- noting the percentage of special needs students enrolled.

"Here in Milwaukee, our student population is almost 20% special ed. That is a type of student that requires much more support," said St. Aubin.

Knapp says the passage of Act 10 will likely lead to lower per-pupil spending across the state. But even then, he says that doesn't guarantee more efficient spending.

"It's gonna vary district by district as far as where do that put that money? Are they gonna put it in direct education costs? Is it gonna go to maintenance?" said Knapp.

There are multiple school districts in Wisconsin that spend more per student than MPS. However, none of them have enough students enrolled to be considered "large districts."