Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle joined with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett last week to announce a plan aimed at improving the ailing Milwaukee Public Schools, both academically and fiscally.

The plan stems from an independent review ordered by the two men last fall as part of a potential government takeover of the system. The report identified various management initiatives, policy changes and other measures that could save $103 million annually.

“MPS is facing tremendous academic and financial challenges, but we also have historic opportunities to work together to reform and improve academic achievement in the state’s largest school district,” Doyle said in a statement.

The review found that the system’s budget is significantly strained by growing expenses and the impact of declining enrollment and the diversion of funds to private schools under the state’s parental choice program. It said MPS further lacks a strong performance management system to implement changes needed to bring about reforms.

“Our paramount concern is improving the academic achievement in MPS,” Barrett said in the statement. “We need to get MPS’ fiscal house in order to free up resources to help improve academic outcomes.”

Under the plan, a community-based advisory council would be created to lead efforts to compete for stimulus funds for education; develop an improvement plan that promotes innovation, accountability, and results; develop a corrective action plan; and take steps to improve financial and performance management.

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