City residents and taxpayers deserve to know the facts about Milwaukee Public Schools, its Malcolm X Academy site and the Milwaukee Board of School Directors’ vote this week to authorize the sale of the site to 2760 Holdings, LLC pending approval from the Milwaukee Common Council. Here they are:
Under the sale, 2760 Holdings, LLC, will make significant improvements to the 50-plus-year-old building to prepare it to be reopened as a community center and school. MPS estimates the cost of those improvements to be, at minimum, $4.2 million, approximately matching the lease payments MPS would make over 50 months for the educational portion of the building. 2760 Holdings’ payment of the sale price of $2.1 million makes the deal a “break-even” one for the district because MPS ultimately reimburses the improvement for the educational portion while having the option to repurchase the facility for a dollar. In the end, taxpayers and the community benefit because the community receives an upgraded, 21st-century facility for a community center and school.
Contrary to statements made by lawmakers, 2760 Holdings, LLC is not a ‘fly-by-night’ organization. As is typical in commercial real estate developments, when partners from different organizations come together, they create a separate LLC to work on the project.
Principals of 2760 Holdings, LLC, include James Phelps, whose work has included renovations at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the YWCA – and Dennis Klein, chairman of KBS, who has been involved in substantial construction and development projects including three mixed-use University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee properties, two new facilities for Marquette University, major new Milwaukee hotels Aloft and Marriott, and the redevelopment of Capitol Court into Midtown Center.
Milwaukee Public Schools has offered three other facilities to St. Marcus Lutheran School – all of which are in the neighborhoods where many St. Marcus students live and two of which are in close proximity to St. Marcus’ existing site – but St. Marcus leaders rejected those sites. MPS remains open to discussing the sites with St. Marcus.
In August 2012, the Board of School Directors began discussion of turning unused former school buildings into community resource centers. The process specific to converting Malcolm X began in May and included a number of public hearings. Legislation to strip MPS and the city of Milwaukee of their control over local school facilities was introduced in October 2013.
Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to continuing our work with parents, community partners and others to increase educational opportunities and improve outcomes for the more than 78,000 children served in MPS.
As MPS enrollment grows, legislative proposals restrict growth of successful MPS schools
The Wisconsin Assembly is now considering a proposal that, like an earlier proposal from the Wisconsin Senate, could evict more than 3,500 Milwaukee Public Schools students from their current schools, some of which are among the most successful schools in the city (read more).
A group of Senators voted Monday to remove the provision from the Senate plan that would evict students. But at a time when MPS is seeing enrollment growth for the first time in a decade, both the Senate and Assembly plans prevent the district from continuing to strategically use facilities to grow successful schools.
This school year, MPS’ strategic use of facilities allowed top-rated Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School to add 45 students and the successful I.D.E.A.L. Charter School to add 30 students. Golda Meir School, which is rated “Exceeds Expectations” by the state and added 28 students this year, is expected to grow further as it adds high school grades beginning in 2014-15.
Both Assembly Bill 417 and Senate Bill 318 would deny MPS and Milwaukee families the opportunity to continue to grow the successful schools those families are choosing. The bills force MPS and the city of Milwaukee to sell buildings, including ones that MPS has plans for, as the district continues to seek to grow successful programs.
MPS has shared with lawmakers that it does currently have facilities that could be sold and that voucher schools have rejected those buildings. In recent years, the district has sold four facilities, including two to Milwaukee College Prep. MPS also currently leases 11 sites to charter and partnership schools and has used facilities to grow eight successful and popular MPS schools.