$100K in pay raises for top MPS administrators draw concern: “Nobody knew. It was backdoor”

Milwaukee Public Schools

MILWAUKEE -- Pay raises at Milwaukee Public Schools aren't making the grade with some teachers. A school board member is questioning a $100,000 worth of raises to top MPS administrators.

Reports indicate one administrator got a raise of more than $17,000. The teacher's union says, that's too much.

"I think we are all deeply disappointed," said Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association President Kim Schroeder.

In a school district hit hard with budget issues, a new report claims 23 top MPS administrators received a collective $100,000 in raises. The largest single increase went to one employee, now making $17,600 more.

Kim Schroeder

"Which is also more than some of our members make in a whole year working with students in the classroom," said Schroeder. "Nobody knew. It was backdoor."

Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association President Kim Schroeder, believes the raises were intentionally kept quiet.

"We have asked about raises for our members and we are continually told, 'no money, no money, no money,'" said Schroeder.

Board member, Terry Falk, says the report came to light after a whistle-blower pointed out the changes. He says MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver, has the authority to approve raises under ten percent without board approval, as long as the employee is being reclassified.

"The number of reclassifications raises an alarm indicating they used reclassification to give raises without the board's approval," Falk said.

The guidelines are even confusing the union:

"The budget isn't necessarily user-friendly to read," said Schroeder.

FOX6's Bret Lemoine: "Are they correct in saying that they can give raises under ten percent?"

Schroeder: "I don't know. We will have to look at school board policy."

MPS released a statement, explaining their transparency:

"The Office of Accountability and Efficiency identified 14 positions and the Office of Human Resources identified nine positions."

"Out of the 23 positions mentioned, 16 of the positions fall within the purview of the Superintendent. The remaining seven positions report directly to the Office of Board Governance."

"In accordance with Board Policy 4.10 and 4.11 – MPS Superintendent’s Administration has the authority to provide salary increases under 10% and need to be reported to the School Board. The policy states that adjustments over 10% are to be approved by the School Board."

"The amounts attributed to the salary increases in question were included as a part of the 2017-2018 budget. Hence, they were not provided to the School Board in a separate report."

"The salary changes were due to one of the following conditions: restructuring of duties, internal equity, or job reclassifications in accordance with compensation studies in determining the market value of the roles. All changes were within the salary level for the modified roles."

"In July 2017, the Office of Human Resources initiated a compensation committee to review, provide internal approval, and periodic reporting to the School Board. No salary changes were made from October 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017."

"Mr. Falk’s statement referenced a pay raise investigation, which was triggered by a whistleblower. This complaint was reviewed and reported to the School Board for approval during February 2017 board cycle."

"We had several discussions with the School Board in regards to guidance on reporting salary changes. Based on the discussions, we will be bringing forward all salary changes for the period 01/01/2017-12/31/2017 during the January 2018 Board cycle. We continue to work with the School Board and look to update policy in February 2018."

Meanwhile, Schroeder says his teachers are upset.

"I think that anybody in this district getting a $17,000 raise for the year, is getting too much of a raise," said Schroeder.

Kim Schroeder

The union says teachers in the district only received a raise of $143.00. He says that doesn't even cover cost of living, and most of that money is spent by teachers on items needed for the classroom.