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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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Public testimony on moving MacDowell Montessori to the Juneau campus will be heard on Tuesday next week.
Public testimony on moving MacDowell Montessori to the Juneau campus will be heard on Tuesday next week. (Photo: MIlwaukee Public Schools)

MPS discussion of changes to MacDowell moves to Tuesday

Yesterday MPS posted the agenda for next week's Committee on Accountability, Finance and Personnel meeting on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

This is the meeting at which school closings and changes, based on Master Facilities Plan report recommendations, were expected. While among the 11 items were action items to expand Golda Meir and to close 68th Street and 65th Street Schools and the Hayes Facility, other recommendations, such as closing Carver and Burroughs and moving and expanding MacDowell Montessori were missing.

Turns out that those items have likely moved to Tuesday's Innovation/School Reform Committee, which meets on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for that meeting has not yet appeared on the MPS portal.

Public testimony will be heard at both meetings next week (but it behooves those who want to comment to appear at the correct meeting).

MacDowell principal Andrea Corona notified the school community of the change last night and the news has been gotten around today.

Being involved in similar – now tabled – discussions at another MPS Montessori school, I understand that it's hard to gauge a community's mood about such changes because there is usually a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints and a lot of unanswered questions.

But recently I asked MacDowell teacher Jenny Aicher how the school's teachers have reacted to the proposal to relocate the K3-8 program to the Juneau campus and expand it through 12th grade next year.

"The overall feeling at the school is pretty good about the move," she told me in an e-mail. "Our building is so uninspiring aethetically, so I know I, as well as others, are excited for something more pleasant.

"The staff still has a lot of questions about specifics, but overall I think the feeling is good."

Moving a school is a difficult proposition in terms of buy-in and it's likely families who must travel farther will be less happy than those whose commute will shrink.

Others may be concerned about the idea of 3-year-olds sharing a building with 18-year-olds, but the Juneau building – which originally housed a large comprehensive traditional high school – is a spacious one, which could alleviate some such concerns.

The Juneau campus is currently home to the Montessori High School, an MPS charter school that recently expanded to include 7th and 8th grades. The school's charter expires this year.

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