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What Could Oak Creek High School Expansion Look Like?

One possibility is a ninth-grade center attached to the school.

Now that the decision has been made to (someday) expand onto the Civic Center site -- across Knights Way at the corner of Puetz Road and Howell Avenue -- it seems only natural to ask the question, "How might they go about that?"

To be clear, school officials say it's still a ways off in the distance, as it would require a referendum and the district isn't close to beginning a pursuit of that. Plans are in the works to relocate the and the to the Delphi site, and to Centennial Drive, but that's not happening tomorrow, either.

However, one possibility district administrators have floated is constructing a freshman-only building, something I and wanted to get back to.

They see it as a way to share staff easily, create a smaller community for ninth-graders to provide a transition into high school, and allow easy access to upper level courses, as the building still would be connected to the high school.

The facility could also hold the Oak Creek-Franklin administrative offices, which would allow the district to sell its on 10th Street. Knights Way would no longer be a through street, but rather used to enter and exit the parking lots of the , building and high school.

Now, this is just one idea and I don't expect it will receive close examination or debate for awhile.

But it's an intriguing one, and it could serve as a creative way to handle a difficult problem.

Because say what you will about the land swaps and whether it made sense, the school district and board were in a tricky spot either way. They are faced with a high school that's already at capacity, and based on the numbers in the elementary- and middle-school levels, enrollment will only continue to climb. It's at 2,000 now, and officials project it could reach as high as 3,000.

Whatever option the district chose has its pitfalls.

Building a second high school on Oakwood Road (or anywhere) would mean huge construction and staffing costs. But beyond that, I just have not seen any appetite in Oak Creek for it. The general sense I get it is that a second high school would really divide the community, and unnecessarily so.

In expanding at OCHS, you could potentially create the biggest high school in the entire state of Wisconsin (that title currently belongs to Arrowhead, with 2,253 students, according to the state Department of Public Instruction). It could also be a logistical challenge at the corner of Puetz and Howell, and parking between the community center and high school would certainly have to be worked out. 

So maybe a ninth-grade center is a happy medium for a problem that has no easy solution?

We shall see. It's still entirely possible that things could go in another direction. After all, it was only 2009 when the district got the 50 acres on Oakwood from the city (and that stemmed from a lawsuit with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, which at one point wanted to put a sludge landfill there) for the purpose of building a second high school.

As we've seen, circumstances, ideas, adminstrators and policymakers change. So it's pretty clear the debate on the future of Oak Creek High School is only just beginning.

Juniper March 15, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Well before all the grassy knoll theorists chime in with their stats about things that only the six of them care about, I will say great points Mark. Oak Creek has to continually deal with the repercussions of zero city planning. Both the city and the school district have now had to make tough decisions to fix problems that were created 20, 30+ years ago. The city grew and now we need to think of the future and how to make room for the students from all the families that bought or built homes here. To the school board and city officials...keep up the good work. You are on the right path. You won't please everyone at first but in the end we will all benefit from the tough decisions you have made.
BringBackOakCreek09 March 15, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I wouldnt be worrying about what its going to look like. The city needs to replan, regroup, and involve the people.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 15, 2012 at 01:06 PM
And what will happen when all of these Freshmen become Sophomores? will the High School require another expansion when this happens? if so will there be room for further expansion? The High School is already at capacity, has the school board thought about that? Zero planning, and shortsighted fixes are just what Oak Creek needs. Oak Creek Would have been better off scrapping any thoughts of their civic center and moving city hall, and used the 50 acres they just gave away to Wis Park, and used that land to build a new High School. As opposed to the city spending money as I am, and with the city and school district already operating with deficits this plan would have made the most sense. Our city officials have no respect for the people they are supposed to serve...yes...they are supposed to serve the citizens, it's not the other way around with the citizens serving them. The constant stroking of egos by doing what Wis Park wants done also needs to be stopped, Oak Creek should not have to be submissive to a corporation, and the city should be submissive to it's citizens. I'm tired of the city and corporations bullying the citizens or doing what ever they please without finding out if the citizens want it. Citizen input should be required before any further steps are taken, and a referendums should be put on the ballot concerning the High School and proposed Civic Center/new City Hall.
Mark Schaaf March 15, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Well when the freshmen become sophomores, the 12th grade class will have graduated. So you would have three grades at the high school instead of four, is the idea.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Yeah Mark, I understand the natural progression of High School life having been through High School myself, and having a Senior year that only required me to take 3 credits to graduate. But another class of Freshmen will move in to take the place of the Freshmen turned Sophomores...The bigger class of freshmen now Sophomores will have moved to the High School (Sophomore to Senior High School), eventually classes at the current High School will hit the capacity of the High School is where I was going. Then as another reader stated in the Patch article of the land sale said: what about the extracurricular activities at the school, there are only so many spots on the teams, a lot of students will not have any chance to participate in them due to this. The parents of these students pay taxes, a portion of those taxes get funneled to fund the school district, should their children be disallowed a chance to participate in extracurricular activities? Another High School would handle that issue.
Mark Schaaf March 15, 2012 at 02:01 PM
For sure. All I was trying to point out in the story was that there is issues no matter what they do. Building a second high school is just as complicated (especially cost wise) as expanding.
Sharon Armstrong March 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM
To Juniper - thanks for your excellent comment, enthusiasm and clear thinking. I am with you 100%
SoccerMom March 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I too, applaud the board on what was a very difficult decision at a critical time in our community. I feel that Oak Creek has made it quite clear that our identity is the Knights and that another high school would not be an option. The land swap option gives us room to grow in both the high school and elementary schools - both will be needed in the not so distant future and with this option the referendums that will be needed will be much smaller amounts than if the school board had kept the land on Oakwood and we had to start from scratch on that land. The school board may not have made the most popular decision amongst those who have not been part of the process and do not know all of the facts, but it was the right decision for the children of Oak Creek. Thank you for your dedication!
Debra Mueller March 15, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Just a future thought for the schools, how are the students going to travel from one building to the other during the cold, winter months?? Would the buildings be connected to one another, so the students wouldn't have to find a place for their coats, etc. in the other buildings?? Also, have the connection, so the students from each building would still feel a sense of "belonging" to feel comfortable enough to join in the activities of the school system.
DrMom March 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I dislike the idea of having the freashmen in a separate building. It will make for the building of duplicate services like labs. I presume that they will have to use a corridor to the main high school to attend P.ED. or Band which has them mingling with the upper classmen anyway. What about meal times? This idea is a non-started from the get go. Our school board is most probably the worst for preplanning in all that I have seen or discussed with family and friends. In many communities the school board is NOT independant of the common council unfortunately ours is a separate entity and makes no bones about letting others know that they are the only ones that will be making the decisions about how your tax dollars will be spent. They do not preplan nor do they care how much they in they put out or cost the tax payers. The Oak Cak East Middle School dabocle to name just one such incident. The School board planned to place a new middle school in a place where not many tax payers wanted it, had already spent considerable amount of money on plans, etc and only after the citizen fought against it did they back down and the new OCEMS get built in the playing field of the old school but at a much higher cost. Way to go school board. What the school board needs to do is to find an appropreate site and rebuild a new larger school or stop taking in chapter 220 students.
Mike in OC March 15, 2012 at 07:46 PM
@DrMom you said "or stop taking in chapter 220 students". Why didn't you just say what you really mean?
CB March 15, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Dr. Mom has no clue. The district currently has very few 220 students. Change is difficult for most....this change will work best for all. Go Knights!
Morgan Raddatz March 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Dr. Mom said stop bringing out of district students to the oak creek school district and I disagree. I am currently a student that attends oak creek high school through the open enrollment program and have went to the district since the 08-09 school year. Our parents do pay taxes for us to attend the school district as if we did live in oak creek. So families like mine do contribute to the district and community. By the way only a small percentage of 220 and open enrollment students attend the oak creek school district compared to other school districts in the milwaukee area. I also have to say im thankful for the opportunity to go Oak Creek because it has many resources and options that would not be avalible to me if I did go to MPS. I know people are entitled to their opinions but next time please get your facts straight before you blame a certain group of individuals for a problem. Go Knights!!:)
Oak Creek peds RN March 16, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I grew up in a large highschool (grad class of 800) & we had 2 campuses, 1 for frosh/soph & 1 for jr/sr. There were buses that went in between for extracurricular activities after school. The campuses were about 1.5 miles apart...and it all worked just fine.
Sharon Armstrong March 16, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I just LOVE all of this positive feedback! To Morgan - we are happy to have you in Oak Creek and thrilled that you selected our school district. Good Luck to you! (I am a Knight, too, from many years ago.)
Connie Ploch March 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM
What about building on to the current OCHS (a freshman wing so to speak), so there wouldn't have to be two buildings, a walkway, and duplicate labs, etc like DrMom sugests? The current city hall/library area could be a large parking lot that would benefit OCCC as well. Knights Way would go away eliminating pedistrians dodging the traffic. I feel it would avoid the nasty congestion and possible accidents between cars and students walking in/out of school and the traffic pattern during drop-off/pick-up times could flow in a more orderly manner. ALL high school students, teachers, and staff would benefit. Parking along Groveland and Puetz could be minimized, which could increase safety during stadium events and other school functions that brings more vehicles needing parking.
jack ryan March 16, 2012 at 03:04 PM
The School Board would be able to plan for the future if a few individuals would stop complaining as if they represent the citizens of Oak Creek, they were not elected the School Board was.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 16, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Jack ryan, we are just voicing our opinions, like you are, and pondering thoughts in an open forum. Now I will agree with you that we were not elected to the school board, but we have a right to tell our "ELECTED" officials what we would like to see them do, after all they are "REPRESENTING" us, the people, and as citizens, all of us have a voice in "OUR" government through "OUR" "ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES", and that goes for all representatives...SCHOOL BOARD, ALDERPERSON, MAYOR, GOVERNOR, etc.. If I'm wrong then I stand corrected.
ocbubble March 16, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I think the options being discussed by the board and the city are encouraging and in the right direction. Anyone concerned with the cost of duplicate services, would definitely not want to have a second High School constructed that is several miles away from the current one. Regardless of whether that second High School is truly a standalone facility or affiliated with the current one, duplication of costs with this option would far exceed simply expanding the current High School using the land currently occupied by City Hall, Library, and the Fire Station.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 16, 2012 at 07:12 PM
And here we go again...We will have to pay for a new city hall, library and fire station. which we already have, and a new city hall and library are already being considered. In a community already strapped for cash everyone wants new public buildings, instead of working with what we have. My house was built in 1963...you don't see me tearing it down because it's nearly 50 years old, it would be FOOLISH to tear it down and build new, instead I maintain, and remodel...which is something Oak Creek should consider doing. Milwaukee finished the renovations to it's city hall...yes, they renovated their city hall instead of building a new one.
Wanda in Oak Creek March 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Rather than building more schools or adding on to the schools in Oak Creek, why not just start planning for an Oak Creek school system that does not include Franklin? Could someone please tell me why we need to continue the combined Oak Creek-Franklin joint school district? I thought the combined school district was formed years ago when both Franklin and Oak Creek were small communities and it was to their advantage to share resources.
Theresa March 17, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I have a child that will be going to high school in about four years so this decision affects my family very much. I think some of the comments on here are based on " I want " . Rather than clear level thinking. I would love for her to have a brand new school to go to, but it is not in the best interest of the city. Some think the entire city revolves around the high school students. It doesn't . Beside the concerns listed by others I have a few more. One is parking cars already line both sides of the street. Another is traffic it is a bottle neck at peak times of the day. There is a lot of traffic already then when the school lets out kids just fly into the street and pull out of the lot like they are on a race way. Meanwhile the rest of us have to crawl . I built here ten years ago because I loved the city . It is slowly turning into a place that caters to kids and their parents. I want a well rounded city that takes everyone's interest and wants into consideration.
vocal local 1 March 18, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Although we don't have many Ch. 220 transfer students we do have a large number of open enrollment. Out of district students and the double count of 4 K which we don't have to offer, results in growing HS numbers. Actual OC student enrollment has been deceasing in recent years. DATA IS AVAILABLE ON THE DPI WEB SITE. In addition, Verhalen told me last week WisPark plans to build 975 housing units on the Delphi site. If each of those households contains one HS aged student we could have problems. Still your council is spending big money trying to lure development to decrease costs or increase state revenue. TO WHAT AVAIL is my question. The school board has lots of options, charter, on-line, second shift which don't sell here. In OC the residents get what their elect choose. In this case if anyone paid attention to Kaminski's comments the board will build little by litte as the need arises. More of the failing same.In the future the School Board will probably be faced with the acquisition of land on which to build. The entire land swap is not in our best interest. Tuesday night the council will go into closed session to finalize the terms of this deal. The predevelopment deal with WisPark reads that WisPark will buy the land from the city for the price the city pays the schools. WisPark gains and the schools lose roughly 6 million. I certainly don't think this is a good deal for the resident taxpayers Do you?
concerned citizen March 18, 2012 at 06:41 AM
@OC Paul. What does your 3 credits in your senior year have to do with the school now? This is not a forum for bragging rights. Let's stick with the important facts.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 18, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I agree with you Wanda. Look as Saint Francis, for as small as their city and school district are even they have their own school district, and they could easily send the students to Cudahy or Milwaukee schools, but that would mean that Cudahy or Milwaukee would have to plan for these additional students. Besides St. Francis already has the schools so why not use them instead of making the switch to Cudahy or Milwaukee and have 3 vacant schools sitting there, even if they were vacant the buildings still need to be maintained and heated.
SoccerMom March 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
The idea of removing the Franklin portion from Oak Creek Franklin Joint School District certainly has been discussed. As part of the Facilities commmittee that met for nearly a year and a half we decided that was not a fiscally responsible choice for our community. The majority of the land that is in Franklin's portion of our school district is commercial and not residential. This means that the amount of property taxes that we receive from this land far outweighs the number of residents that are being served by our district.

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