St. Marcus Lutheran School has officially taken over ownership of its second site, a 13,000-square-foot building at 2669 N. Richards St. in Milwaukee.
The building, previously the Centro Educacional Aurora Weier Center, sits four blocks north of St. Marcus’ original campus at 2215 W. Palmer St. in Milwaukee.
“We always highly value proximity to the main campus, and it is about as close as we could get,” said St. Marcus superintendent Henry Tyson.
St. Marcus, a high-performing voucher school, closed on the acquisition of the building on Thursday, purchasing the property from Council for the Spanish Speaking, Inc. for $460,075, according to city records.
The school, however, has occupied the building since Sept. 2, thanks to a lease arrangement.
With a capacity of 105 students, the second location currently serves 100 kids in grades K3-1.
St. Marcus has expansion plans that include growing its student population to serve more than 250 kids in grades K3-4 over the next three years. That growth will be made possible by reworking some of the interior of the existing building and adding 24,000 to 36,000 square feet.
Tyson said the school hopes to break ground on an addition sometime next summer or early fall and complete it for the 2016-17 school year.
The site’s “extensive” amount of real estate available to hold such an expansion also attracted St. Marcus to the site, Tyson said, adding that the building’s “close to move in” condition was another major positive.
The opening of the new school shifted about a third of students on St. Marcus’ waiting lists into the classroom, but St. Marcus still had to turn away “a couple hundred” students, Tyson said.
Sharing waiting lists with other “high quality” Milwaukee schools, including Atonement Lutheran School and Siloah Lutheran School, has also helped connect more students to educational opportunity, Tyson said. However, he doesn’t believe the school’s waiting list will ever be extinguished.
“Frankly, I don’t believe that’s possible,” Tyson said. “I don’t think we can build or open schools quickly enough to meet the demand because the bigger you get, the more parents that are out there advocating for the school and telling the story.”
Meanwhile, St. Marcus still has an active offer in on the former Lee School property, a vacant Milwaukee Public Schools building at 921 W. Meinecke Ave. in Milwaukee. That offer has stood since May and has been met with heavy criticism from public school advocates.
However, St. Marcus’ focus rests on operating and expanding its newly acquired site, Tyson said.
Similar to the main campus, which currently educates 740 students in grades K3-8, the new space will also likely serve as a community facility for St. Marcus families and neighbors.