St. Marcus School embarks on expansion plans

St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood plans to construct a $12 million expansion on its campus located at 2215 N. Palmer St. in Milwaukee

St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood plans to construct a $12 million expansion on its campus located at 2215 N. Palmer St. The expansion will be built to accommodate the growing number of students enrolled at the school, and to serve as a hub for community activity in the area, said superintendent Henry Tyson.
“The vision for this whole project was not just to significantly expand the school facility but to also construct a building that could be a real hub of the Harambee community,” Tyson said.
According to Tyson, St. Marcus owns enough land to begin construction on phase one of the project which would include space for a state of the art elementary school for K4 through grade 4 students.
“Phase one of the project will cost around $9.3 million,” Tyson said. “We have $4.5 already committed from 13 different individuals, foundations and events.”
St. Marcus will need at least $7.5 million committed before they can break ground on the project, but hope to do so some time in 2010, Tyson said.
Phase one will also include church offices, specialty classrooms, a large motor skills room on the first floor and community outreach space. The addition will be connected to the current St. Marcus facility to allow the sharing of the cafeteria and gymnasium space.
“One of the real concerns is that right now we have no additional space for our students,” Tyson said. “Parents are flocking to the school and we have to turn away hundreds. As a contributing member of this community, we feel obligated to provide seats to those parents who are looking for high quality educational opportunities for their children.”
The new building will be able to accommodate nearly 600 students, and the move of the elementary students will free up four additional classrooms in the middle school that will be used as an expanded College Prep Center, Tyson said.
“The College Prep Center is open from 4p.m. until 9 p.m. and provides academic support in the form of tutoring and counseling,” Tyson said. “It also provides some students with dinner, and college preparation support in terms of the skills they need to be ready for college.”

St. Marcus School is a nationally recognized leader in urban educational reform and its curriculum is intense and rigorous, Tyson said. Parents and students must agree to sign contracts indicating they will abide by the school’s strict academic regulations and attendance policy. On average, the school boasts a nearly 96 percent attendance rate daily.
“Our kids come from a variety of backgrounds, most though come from impoverished homes and suffer from below average grades and behavioral problems,” Tyson said. “Our kids and their parents are held to high expectations, and when they enroll here they are taught from day one that they can and will attend college.”
There is no excuse for failure at the school and parents, students, teachers and administrators are expected to do whatever it takes to ensure the academic success of every student, he said.
Milwaukee-based Korb Tredo Architects is responsible for the design of the new addition. Phase II of the project would consist entirely of community space and a new gymnasium that could be duel-purposed as a community meeting room, and a theater, Tyson said.

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