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“We are growing, and we don’t lose children,” MPS’ Fernwood Montessori to expand

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MILWAUKEE -- One Milwaukee Public School has outgrown it's building. Fernwood Montessori School has a unique dilemma.

"We are growing, and we don’t lose children," said Fernwood's principal John Sanchez.

It's a good problem to have. In just five years, the school added close to 150 new students. Demand is so high, there is a waiting list to get in.

"This is the school most everybody targets, because of its great reputation," said Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski.

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver

But the good comes with the bad.

"That means there has been some overcrowding, and a lot of our students and our teachers haven’t had the full access they need," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver.

On Thursday, October 1st, Fernwood Montessori broke ground on an addition that will allow more students to enroll.

"We are responding to the need for really solid MPS schools here," said MPS school board member Carol Voss.

Space in the original building is so limited, students are having to use the computer lab and the art room as classrooms. But when the addition is built, there will be eight new classrooms and a new gym.

"We won`t be so tight. It will alleviate some of the classroom size. We will be able to have the classrooms at a more manageable level," said Sanchez.

To ease some of the pressure on Fernwood, MPS built nearby Howard Montessori three years ago. But as Montessori enrollment increases district-wide, growing by 400 students in five years, the extra space can't come soon enough. The addition will be complete in the fall of 2016.

Fernwood Montessori is ranked as "Exceeding Expectations" on its most recent report card.

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