Aug Prep awarded $18 million in new market tax credits for new elementary school

A rendering of the corner of Harrison and Fifth Street, with Aug Prep’s existing school on the southeast corner and new elementary school on the northeast corner. (Rendering: Korb + Associates)

Last updated on March 18th, 2022 at 12:54 pm

St. Augustine Preparatory Academy will receive $18 million in federal new market tax credits to support its planned $49 million new elementary school building on Milwaukee’s south side.

The private voucher K4-12 school plans to build a 123,000-square-foot building on its existing campus that would have capacity for 900 students in grades K4-5.

When the project is completed, Aug Prep would be the largest single-campus school in the city, with capacity to serve 2,400 students.

BMO Harris Bank and Old National Bank are project partners, allocating $14 million and $4 million, respectively, according to an Aug Prep announcement.

Hope Community Capital, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, Baker Tilly, Husch Blackwell LLP and CohnReznick served as advisors and legal counsel on the transaction.

The school, which was founded by Husco International chairman Gus Ramirez and his family in 2017, has been preparing for an expansion next to its existing 225,000-square-foot building at 2607 S. 5th St. since 2019, when it purchased adjacent land. 

In addition to classrooms and special education spaces, the new building will have a full-sized gymnasium, small gym, rooftop garden, playground and performing arts center with seating for 700.

Aug Prep also plans to expand its current building by 5,000 square feet to accommodate additional athletic facilities and a family engagement center, along with updated classrooms.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and to be completed in time for the 2023-‘24 academic year. The school is working with contractor VJS and architecture firm Korb + Associates.

Since opening with 560 students in 2017, the school has grown to 1,500 students. Students receive publicly funded vouchers through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to attend the school at no cost.

The Ramirez family gave $40 million toward the existing $52 million school building and contributes about $2 million a year to help supplement the school’s income.

Aug Prep has received a five-star “significantly exceeds expectations” rating from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s annual report cards, making it one of the highest-performing schools in the city.

The school cited Milwaukee Police Department data indicating the area around the school has seen a 43% decrease in crime since its opening.

“As we help our scholars achieve their highest potential, we are reminded of the positive ripple effect strong schools have on communities,” said Abby Andrietsch, chief executive officer of Aug Prep. “In addition to developing strong citizens and faith-grounded leaders of tomorrow, schools like Aug Prep help spur additional community growth and development. We are grateful to our partners for their assistance in helping Aug Prep secure this critical component to the overall investment we and others are making in our scholars and the communities we serve.”

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