Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:46 am
California-based Rocketship Education has decided to bring eight high-performing charter schools to Milwaukee. The decision is the first expansion outside California for the K-5 charter school.
“Milwaukee really pulled all of the pieces together,” said Kristoffer Haines, director of national expansion at Rocketship Education. “There’s a really great sense community and a lot of people have come together to talk about what it’s going to take to eliminate the achievement gap in Milwaukee, we didn’t see that in every city.”
Rocketship Education currently has five schools in San Jose, Calif., and will open two more in the fall, Haines said. There are four more schools in the Bay Area of California. The first Milwaukee school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.
According to Haines, in addition to Milwaukee, Rocketship had looked at Chicago, New Orleans and Newark for possible expansions.
“Abby at Schools that Can Milwaukee and others in Milwaukee drew us in with a tremendous sense of urgency and opportunity for collaboration,” Haines said. “One of the most important qualities Rocketship knew we needed in order to go outside of our school state was opportunity for collaboration in meaningful ways.”
Rocketship Education worked with the Milwaukee Common Council to receive approval for the charter school and plans to eventually enroll up to 4,000 students in eight K-5 charter schools throughout the city.
The first, according to Haines, will most likely be located in an existing facility on Milwaukee’s south side.
“I am excited that Rocketship has chosen to make Milwaukee their first city outside of California,” said Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines. “We are excited to have them as part of the City of Milwaukee’s educational ecosystem and I look forward to their role in providing a rich and thriving educational environment for our children.”
Rocketship Education started the process about a year ago, Haines said.
Schools That Can Milwaukee, a not-for-profit organization committed to quality education for low-income students, played an integral role in Rocketship’s Request For Proposal process.
“Though some saw Milwaukee as a dark horse for Rocketship’s first expansion site, the urgency and collaboration between city government, the business community, nonprofits, local high-performing schools and foundations quickly elevated Milwaukee to the top,” said Abby Andrietsch, co-founder and executive director of Schools that Can Milwaukee. “I believe Rocketship Education, in conjunction with the high-impact collaboration across Schools That Can Milwaukee’s partner schools, will create a tipping point for transformational change in Milwaukee education.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been a strong proponent of bringing Rocketship to Milwaukee as well.
“I am pleased to welcome Rocketship schools to Milwaukee. Their track record of performance with low-income kids is impressive. Rocketship will add to the great school options we have in this city.”
Melissa McGonegle, current director of Rocketship Bay Area Schools will lead the first Milwaukee Rocketship school. McGonegle has been with Rocketship Education for four years and rose through the ranks through Rocketship’s Network Leadership Program, which prepares Rocketship teachers to serve as future school leaders for its schools nationwide. Under McGonegle’s leadership, Rocketship Sí Se Puede Academy in San Jose, California, earned an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 859 for 2011 and was ranked number three for elementary schools serving low-income students in Santa Clara County. Tim Sheehy, President of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce, will serve as the Rocketship Education Milwaukee local board chair.