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Group looks to purchase former MPS school; MPS has other plans

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The building that housed the former Malcolm X Academy, an MPS school, has been sitting idle for about five years. Now, a group has expressed interest in buying the building, but MPS says it has other plans for it.

The building in question is a 170,000 square foot building near Center and Palmer in Milwaukee.

St. Marcus Lutheran School has expressed interest in purchasing the building in an effort to expand the private school, but MPS has said it intends on turning the building into a community center.

On Wednesday, September 4th, St. Marcus supporters held a march and rally to bring public awareness to the situation.

"We’ve built a campus for 750 children. It’s 100% full. We have hundreds of children on the waiting list. Parents are demanding access to high-quality education in our city and we’re bound and determined to provide," St. Marcus Superintendent Henry Tyson said.

Neva Hill has four grandchildren at St. Marcus, which is just four blocks away on North Palmer.

"We have kids going all over the city in search of a good school and St. Marcus has proven to be that year after year. So this is why it’s important for us to expand within the community," Hill said.

Tyson says he had a conversation with MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton in January about the building.

"He said to me that MPS had no use for this building, encouraged me to write a letter requesting the opportunity to buy it, which I did. And about six weeks after I wrote that letter, we were told that the building was not available and that they wouldn’t sell to us," Tyson said.

In a statement to FOX6 News, MPS says the school board voted in August to develop Malcolm X into a community resource center, providing: "educational, cultural, neighborhood and recreational programming and services" -- a concept the board has been working on for about a year.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke sees only one reason the building is being mothballed with a viable potential buyer waiting in the wings.

"It’s hung up because of politics. These kids are being used as pawns. Any building, any empty school building that some other school wants to open up and educate kids, we ought to be supporting them," Sheriff Clarke said.

Tyson says St. Marcus will continue to bring public awareness about the issue. It has a vision for the neglected building, including a 300 student early childhood center and a 600 student elementary and middle school.

There are also plans for affordable senior housing and healthcare services.