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New Berlin School District agrees to sell elementary school; new gymnasium planned

May 13, 2014

New Berlin — An overwhelming majority at the special meeting of electors of the New Berlin School District cast their ballots in favor of selling the former Glen Park Elementary School for terms that were acceptable to the School Board.

The vote was 61 for and 11 against Monday.

The board has an accepted offer of $1.75 million for the school and the 9.2 acres it sits on at 3800 S. Glen Park Road. The offer is from Heritage Christian Schools that now operates pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at three locations in Brookfield, the town of Brookfield and in New Berlin. Heritage wants to consolidate its 550 students into one school building.

Even though the New Berlin School Board has permission to sell the school to Heritage, the deal will likely have to wait until Heritage finds out if the city will approve its plan to build a gymnasium addition and to extensively remodel the building. The Plan Commission is slated to consider the Heritage request June 2.

Heritage would like to open in the the fall of 2015.

Currently, the Heritage secondary school is in the town of Brookfield at 175 S. Barker Road, serving grades seven through 12. Lower elementary students go to school at Weatherstone Church, 1500 S. West Lane, in New Berlin and grades four through six go to school at St. Luke's Parish, 18000 W. Greenfield Ave., Brookfield.

New Berlin officials say they would use sale proceeds to help pay for millions of dollars of facilities improvements, much of it at Eisenhower Middle/High School.

School officials are gratified by the landslide of support.

"I didn't know the vote would be that overwhelming," said School Board President David Maxey after the meeting. "I'm very pleased and we can now dedicate these resources to our facilities needs."

Superintendent Joe Garza said, "We appreciate the support of the electorate."

District officials are trying to do what's best for the entire district and the neighbors.

"Neighbors in that area told us repeatedly that they'd like a school there," said Roger Dickson, chief financial and operating officer.

Not all the neighbors like the idea of Heritage coming in. As the people entered the meeting, they were greeted with fliers urging them to vote no until several aspects affecting the neighborhood around the school could be hashed out.

The unsigned flier particularly noted the increased traffic resulting from taking 550 children to and from school every day. The Heritage enrollment is nearly double the 300 or so that Glen Park had before it closed in June 2012.

The flier also asked where teachers and staff for so many students would park. Finally, it noted that nothing has been mentioned about possible future expansion if enrollments increase or any plans for after-school activities, expanded athletic fields and the addition of lights. It also was critical of Heritage officials for not meeting with neighbors to discuss their concerns.

The electorate seemed unswayed by the flier, however, and approved the sale with no discussion. No one spoke against the sale, either, at the brief meeting.

However, traffic and parking are among the factors that the New Berlin Plan Commission will consider June 2.

The board closed Glen Park deciding that the district had too many elementary schools and that closing Glen Park would save considerable money.

School officials negotiated with the city to see if Glen Park might suit its Recreation Department needs. But the building is too big, Mayor Dave Ament said.

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