Responding to long wait lists, clear success, MPS OKs 2 new schools

MILWAUKEE (June 28, 2012) – Responding to lengthy wait lists and demonstrated success, Milwaukee Public Schools will open a new Montessori school this fall – and it has authorized a new charter school for the fall of 2013 to be operated by the group that runs the successful Carmen High School of Science and Technology.

“We’ve made tough decisions over the last two years to close schools that were not moving children forward quickly enough – or not attracting enough families to thrive. At the same time, we absolutely must expand and replicate schools that are doing both of those things well. We’re relocating five popular schools to give them room to grow for the coming school year. And now we’re paving the way for two new schools based upon successful, popular models,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.

The 139-student-long waiting list at the nearest Milwaukee Public Schools Montessori program shows clear demand for the Montessori early childhood school set to open on the city’s southeast side in September.

A vote on Thursday night by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors paved the way for the new Howard Avenue Montessori School to open to 120 half-day 3- and 4-year-olds in September. The school is set to open at 357 E. Howard Avenue, Milwaukee 53207, in a building in the Tippecanoe neighborhood that once housed an MPS school. The new school community will be able to change the new school’s name if it desires.

Nearly every 3rd-through-8th-grader in the four longest-running MPS Montessori elementary schools – Craig, Fernwood, MacDowell and Maryland – outperforms the district average on state test scores. More than a third – 35% – exceed the state average.

At Fernwood, the MPS Montessori program nearest to the new site, 88.8% of students scored proficient or better in reading in 2011-12, exceeding the state average of 81.9% and the MPS average of 58.4%. In math, 84.6% of Fernwood students were proficient in 2011-12, besting the state average of 77.9% and the MPS average of 48.6%.

Fernwood, in the Bay View area, has a wait list of 110 3-year-olds and 29 4-year-olds.

The new school on Howard Avenue should relieve the pressure at Fernwood and give Milwaukee parents yet another high-quality school for their children.

Enrollment will first be opened to families on the official three-choice enrollment wait lists for existing MPS Montessori schools with a random selection process that will begin immediately. Families selected through the lottery will receive letters next week and will have until July 20 to affirm interest. Three-choice wait list families not selected in the random selection process will also receive letters next week and would have the chance to take open spaces, if available, after July 20. If those processes do not fill the school, a second random selection process will be held for families who have indicated interest in MPS Montessori schools after the three-choice enrollment period. They too will receive letters next week and must indicate interest by August 2. That second random selection process will also be open to any interested family that contacts MPS’ Office of Family Services (5225 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee 53208 or (414) 475-8448) beginning on Monday, July 2 and before August 2. Within each part of the process, preference will be given to families in the new school’s walk zone and to those with siblings at the school, per prior Board action.

In separate action, the Board approved the opening of another new school based upon a successful model, this one for the 2013-14 school year.

The new northwest-side Carmen campus, to be named this summer by a planning team that includes members of the community, is set to open in September 2013 in a yet-to-be-determined location to serve 220 6th and 9th graders. The students would be drawn by lottery, Carmen administrators said. The school would expand to serve students in grades 6 through 12 over the following four years.

The new Carmen campus would be modeled after the existing Carmen High School of Science and Technology, 1712 S. 32nd Street, Milwaukee 53215.

Carmen High School of Science and Technology has a 9th-grade wait list of 200 students and posted a proficiency rate of 72% in reading during the current 2011-12 school year, higher than the district average and closer to the state average of 77%. The school posted 76% proficiency in math for 2011-12, higher than the district average and higher the state’s average of 71%.

“Carmen has an exemplary record of moving its students forward,” Dr. Thornton said. “We’re excited to host a second campus for the school.”

MPS schools slated for expansion in 2012-13 are: Garland School, Golda Meir School, Hayes Bilingual School, MacDowell Montessori School and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning.