USM set to make $15M upgrade
Earliest possible start for construction work would be next spring
A $15 million project at University School of Milwaukee that will include two major building additions got the go-ahead from the River Hills Village Board last week.
The construction starting date will depend on the success of fundraising. The earliest it could start would be next spring. The two additions and other improvements would then be ready by August 2009, the school's headmaster, Ward Ghory, told trustees.
An exception was granted for the addition to the lower school, which would be taller than River Hills code allows. The addition will be 53 feet tall, which is 13 feet higher than the village's 40-foot limit. But the addition will be behind another building, screened from view, school officials said. The scale of the building also is broken up with several roof lines.
Despite enlarging school space by 21 percent, no major changes in enrollment, program, personnel or time of operations are anticipated, USM officials said. The improvements will allow the school to stop using converted storage closets as offices and more importantly, officials said, they will make it possible to increase the size of classrooms.
Most of the USM classrooms are smaller than classrooms of today, Ghory said. When new elementary schools are built in the North Shore, the standard classroom size is 800 to 900 square feet, Ghory told trustees. But at USM, 50 percent of the middle school classrooms and 70 percent of the lower school classrooms are less than 550 square feet, he said.
"We want to make classrooms bigger so students can work in project teams and with interactive technologies. We value an active style for learning," Ghory said. The new classrooms will make it possible to reduce the number of smaller classrooms by merging them into larger, renovated spaces, Ghory wrote in his request to the board.
Although enrollment is not increasing, the school needs more room because of changes in education over the nearly 50 years since the school buildings were built, he wrote. Those include the introduction of computers and digital technology, the knowledge explosion in science, greater emphasis on learning support and the requirement that girls' athletics be on par with boys,' he wrote.
"In large part, the new construction is designed to facilitate program changes already in place," he wrote.
The school is capped at 1,100 students and officials are projecting 1,050 students this fall.
In addition to the new classrooms, the improvements will include a new lower school gym, a middle-school commons and study hall, outdoor learning spaces and air conditioning.
The project is the second phase of a major facilities upgrade.
The first phase, completed last year, included a new science center, fitness center, the advancement and business offices and an ice arena.
Improvements also were made to the tennis center and the track.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Election update: Dec. 3
- Glendale-River Hills officials start work on fall 2014 referendum
- Fox Point taxpayers face slight increase
- NSFD board passes funding formula
- Nicolet bumps up insurance
- Openings abound in spring elections
- River Hills on board with NSFD funding formula
- NSFD board delays formula, expulsion decisions as River Hills meeting looms
- River Hills could face expulsion from North Shore Fire Department
- River Hills' stance unclear as Brunner continues toward veto of NSFD funding formula