Milwaukee Academy of Science plans expansion

A rendering of the Milwaukee Academy of Science's planned expansion.

Last updated on December 14th, 2020 at 02:59 pm

The Milwaukee Academy of Science is raising funds to build out a 20,000-square-foot expansion in vacant space on its campus and to construct a new athletic facility.

The school, located at 2000 W. Kilbourn Ave. in what once housed the Milwaukee Hospital and Sinai Samaritan Medical Center, currently occupies the first two floors of the building, serving 1,250 students. It plans to develop the building’s third floor to expand its capacity to allow for 250 more students.

A rendering of the Todd Wehr Gymnasium on the Milwaukee Academy of Science’s campus.

The $3.3 million expansion would include five new high school classrooms, four new middle school classrooms, two STEAM labs and eight staff offices.

The planned 6,700-square-foot gym facility would be developed adjacent to the existing gym building, and would have its own entryway and include locker rooms and bathrooms. Currently, the school has one gym to serve all students and MAS athletic teams use classrooms and storage closets for locker rooms. The new $1.7 million gym will bear the name of its largest funder, the Todd Wehr Foundation.

Milwaukee Academy of Science has raised just over $1.9 million to date for the school expansion, with funding coming from the Todd Wehr Foundation, Herb Kohl Foundation, Burke Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and an undisclosed donor. The school began raising funds in September with the goal of reaching $2 million by the year’s end.

It will work to raise the additional $3 million through March 2022.

Pending project approvals, Gilbane Building Company is expected to begin breaking ground in January for the expansion. The goal is to open the addition to students in August 2021.

The need for more space is urgent, said MAS development manger Katie Reinhart. The school has waitlists in 10 grades and there isn’t enough room to serve its current elementary students once they advance to middle and high school.

“It’s about 25% of our students that we would have to turn away next year if they’re not able to go to the middle school,” Reinhart said. “… This is the time we need to help kids in Milwaukee to stay at a good school. We truly feel education is the great equalizer.”

MAS was founded in 2000 by Michael T. Bolger, former president of the Medical College of Wisconsin, who was concerned at the time that fewer than 1% of the medical college’s students were minorities from Milwaukee. The school is focused on preparing students for careers in the STEM and health fields.

The school has garnered support from several business leaders, including the late Milwaukee real estate developer Gary Grunau, a founding board member and former board president for MAS. The project recently received a $100,000 gift from the Gary P. Grunau Good for Milwaukee Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

A recent virtual MAS fundraising event also recently brought in $70,000 for the project.

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