MPS board officials debate 2013 budget

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MILWAUKEE -- More cuts are ahead for Milwaukee Public Schools, but the district announced some good news ahead of Thursday night's budget vote. The 2013 budget includes hundreds of employee cuts, but also some last-minute savings that could help the district avoid teacher layoffs.

Under the old budget proposal, 400 positions would have been eliminated - some through retirements and vacancies, but the district was preparing for layoffs. This is the third year in a row the district faced position cuts in the triple digits.

Thursday, the district announced it had found a way to save some money and possibly avoid layoffs.

School board members debated the 2013 budget Thursday night, valued at $1.17 billion and originally including nearly $20 million in cuts.

The district announced Thursday it has found healthcare savings worth $10 million.

"This certainly creates a wonderful opportunity for us. I think we are poised to do some things in classrooms that we had all hoped to do that now I think we have an opportunity to do," MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.

The district said changing healthcare administrators and negotiating better prices for prescription drugs can help avoid some cuts and could save up to 75 teachers from layoffs.

It will be up to each school to decide how to use their new savings.

Thursday's announcement was welcome news for district parents, like Julie Rapp.

"If they`re gonna give them extra money and let them work it out as they see fit, I think that`s great," Rapp said.

Among other cuts, the district is closing eight schools, which they announced back in December.

MPS' 2013 budget proposal passed unanimously Thursday night.

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