Last updated on June 13th, 2022 at 02:15 pm
St. Augustine Preparatory Academy broke ground Wednesday on its planned $49 million new elementary school building on Milwaukee’s south side.
The 123,000-square-foot building will have capacity for 900 K4 through 5th grade students. When the project is complete in summer 2023, the private voucher K4-12 school will be the largest single-campus school in the city, with total capacity to serve 2,400 students, according to a news release.
“This groundbreaking is symbolic of not only the investment we are making in our students, but the investment we are making in this community,” said Abby Andrietsch, chief executive officer at Aug Prep. “This expansion gives us the space that we need to support our growing reach and impact.”
The new elementary school is being built across West Harrison Avenue from Aug Prep’s existing school building, located at 2607 S. 5th St. It will include state-of-the art classrooms and special education spaces, a full-sized gymnasium, a small gym, a rooftop garden and playground as well as a performing arts center with seating for 700. The school purchased the adjacent land for the project in 2019.
Aug Prep is working with Milwaukee-based architecture firm Korb + Associates and Pewaukee-based contractor VJS Construction Services Inc., who was involved in construction of the current school building five years ago.
“While supply chain and other issues are impacting the construction industry globally, we are pleased with the pace of this project and expect to stay on track as construction gets underway,” said Craig Jorgensen, president at VJS.
The current Aug Prep school building will continue to serve grades 6-12, and plans are in the works to expand it by 5,000 square feet to include larger athletic facilities and a family engagement center, along with updated small group breakout spaces. This expansion will allow Aug Prep to grow its enrollment to include 1,500 middle and high school students, in addition to 900 elementary students.
Aug Prep, which was founded by Husco International chairman Gus Ramirez and his family in 2017, 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 opened with 560 students and has since grown to currently 1,500 students. 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.
Since the school’s opening, crime in the area has dropped by more than 43%, according to data from the Milwaukee Police Department.
Aug Prep students receive publicly funded vouchers through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to attend the school at no cost. This month, Aug Prep graduated 90 students, almost a third of which will be first generation high school graduates. Collectively, the graduating class received more than 220 acceptances to 4-year colleges and universities and almost $7.4 million in scholarships.
Aug Prep launched its “Be the Bold” campaign to raise funds for the $49 million campus expansion project. To date, almost $3 million has been raised through the campaign. In March, the school was allocated $18 million, which is expected to net $3 million after seven years, through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program which is designed to support economic growth and development in low-income and rural communities across the country. BMO Harris Bank and Old National Bank are project partners, allocating $14 million and $4 million, respectively, according to an earlier announcement.