MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A group of community leaders gathered Friday morning, October 18th to protest against the proposed legislation regarding Milwaukee Public Schools' empty buildings.
The coalition to stop the MPS takeover is taking aim at Senate Bill 318. It fears schools such as North Division are at risk under the legislation.
"We're going to fight for this. The council has already taken the position against Assembly Bill 318," said Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamiltion.
If the bill becomes law, it would order MPS to sell certain under-utilized buildings. Co-author Senator Alberta Darling says she's heard the concerns and is already amending the current bill.
"We never intended to shut those schools down and sell them. That's not the intent. That would not happen. In order to clarify that we took out the 40% utilization," said Sen. Darling. "This is the only place in the state where the city owns the school buildings and the school district actually runs them and clarification was asked who is in charge of selling them and who is the legal counsel."
For those in opposition of the bill, the issue is having local control.
"The people of Milwaukee, through their democratic elected school board, should retain the right to decide what to do with surplus property. We should not be forced to sell to privatizers," said MTEA President Bob Peterson.
Members of the coalition fear more privately run schools are not in the children's best interest, however Sen. Darling says educational operators should have first consideration in purchasing the facility.
"What we want to say is what the definition of an empty building is and that we want to define and want to make sure we have an inventory of those buildings and if they're up for sale, there is a competitive bid process," explained Sen. Darling.
Sen. Darling says she plans on going forward with the bill regardless of the heavy opposition. She hopes it will be on the floor by early November.