Compiled by Courier Staff
Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has decided to respond publicly to false claims that have been made by St. Marcus Lutheran School, as it pushes the school’s desire to purchase one of the district’s properties.
St. Marcus has made claims that MPS refuses to work with them on any vacant property sales, but the truth is that the school has its eye on the former Malcolm X Academy Campus, located on the corner of N. 1st, and E. Center Streets, and that particular property is not for sale.
St. Marcus even went as far as to use its students, teachers, staff and even Sheriff David Clarke to hold a march and rally last week and bombarded the neighborhood with yard signs stating, ‘Support St. Marcus @ Malcolm X’, during school hours.
Despite MPS stating that there have been plans in place to convert the former campus into a community center and that the building has never been available for purchase, a benefit to the entire Bronzeville Community, (which by the way does include St. Marcus), because it is located in that community. St. Marcus is attempting to force MPS to sell it to them.
Sheriff Clarke even stated, “Expanding a successful school in the city is a crime-prevention initiative, and that’s why I joined them.
Any area official who talks of doing everything we can do to reduce poverty and reduce violence, can put their money where their mouth is by participating in this anti-crime effort.”
But, wouldn’t a community center that benefits the entire community instead of a select few be an even more effective anti-crime effort?
The district has informed St. Marcus that two other campuses would be possibilities for purchase and they are Garfield School and Lee School, also walking distance from the school. So how about, a community center at Malcolm X, and St. Marcus choose one of the two other schools? Then, you have two “Crime Prevention Initiatives” in the same community, because again “MALCOLM X CAMPUS IS NOT FOR SALE”.
MPS says that citizens and taxpayers in the city of Milwaukee deserve to know the facts surrounding MPS and the use of district facilities.
Here are the facts:
– In 2012, the Board of School Directors determined that a good use for some closed or surplus facilities, including Malcolm X, was as community resource centers which may include educational components as well as community support services.
This year, MPS was invited to participate in a collaborative community planning session led by the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee involving the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, the Martin Luther King Drive Business Improvement District, the Milwaukee Department of City Development and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).
This planning process validated the Board’s vision of a community center for the site. The MPS Board voted in August to move forward with that vision after months of discussion.
– Since 2011, MPS has sold four school buildings, including three to successful independent charter schools—Milwaukee College Prep and Hmong American Peace Academy— and one that has been successfully redeveloped as senior housing.
– Eleven charter or partnership schools are currently leasing MPS sites. This school year alone, new independent charter schools are opening in five MPS buildings, including the opening of a second campus for the academically successful Carmen High School of Science and Technology.
– MPS is using its buildings to expand successful MPS-run schools. That includes the 2012-13 expansion of Golda Meir School, rated “Exceeds Expectations” on the state report card, into a former middle school property and the 2012-13 creation of Howard Avenue Montessori School in a former elementary school building.
Howard is modeled after the successful Fernwood Montessori School, which also was rated “Exceeds Expectations.”
– MPS is open to discussing other building options with private and public organizations for unused space the district has not identified as needing for future growth of successful MPS schools or for our charter partners.
MPS is committed to making decisions about buildings that benefit all Milwaukee taxpayers, families and students, not just one school or advocacy group.
The citizens of Milwaukee deserve to have a thoughtful, comprehensive plan implemented for the buildings their tax dollars have paid for. That is exactly what has been done.