The Perfect Enemy | Reagan High School to expand, renovate with MPS COVID ESSER funds
September 29, 2022

Reagan High School to expand, renovate with MPS COVID ESSER funds

Reagan High School to expand, renovate with MPS COVID ESSER funds  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Reagan High School is on track for a $22 million expansion that will add classrooms and athletic fields to the already high-ranking school that Milwaukee Public Schools leaders say has long outgrown its building. 

MPS leaders ceremonially broke ground with gold shovels Wednesday, though construction isn’t set to officially begin until later this fall on the project, which they expect will take about two years to complete — if they secure the full funding. 

“Everyone deserves an equal chance to compete in a sport they value and to be able to develop their athleticism,” Reagan student Ayush Patel said at the event.

Reagan High School expansion funded by COVID relief funds, private donors

Nearly half of the funding for the project is coming from federal COVID relief funds.

MPS has received about $770 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding, significantly more than other districts because funds were allocated based largely on how many students are served from low-income families. 

While MPS invested some of the funding in academic programs to help students catch up, the district also invested heavily in upgrades to its buildings, which on average are 80 years old. Some work is COVID-related and focused on air quality, while other projects are broader. 

A rendering shows plans for an athletic complex at Reagan High School.

Reagan is getting more funding than any other school. When MPS set aside $63 million for school renovations, school leaders requested over 700 projects totaling about $469 million.

Reagan requested $58 million and was granted about $10 million. 

The district has raised an additional $10 million in other fundraising efforts so far, according to a news release. That includes donations of unspecified amounts from Mary and Ted Kellner, and the Pat Connaughton Foundation, district officials said. 

Connaughton spoke to Reagan students Wednesday, saying he wanted to support the project because of the role that schools have played in shaping him and other Bucks players.

“You see us play within those 94 feet, but it’s the things we’ve learned at a young age that helped us get to where we’re at,” Connaughton said, “even if it has nothing to do with basketball.”

The project includes a science wing, athletic fields

As part of the project, MPS is planning to add a wing to the school. It will include STEM labs for science classes and a new lobby. 

The school will also get six new tennis courts, a gymnasium, team locker rooms, concession stands and bathrooms as part of the first phase of the project, for which funding is already secured. 

If the district secures enough funds, there are also plans for a new fitness center, soccer field and two additional tennis courts. 

The final addition would be an $8 million field house with a turf athletic field. 

A rendering shows plans for a new athletic field at Reagan High School.

Reagan students said the current grounds are difficult or impossible to practice on and most teams have to travel to other fields to practice and play games. 

“It’s kind of hard to practice track with no track,” said Zion Owusu-Yeboa, 16. 

Students said the addition would help make the building, originally built as a middle school, feel more like a high school. 

“We need high school facilities for a high school and it’s getting way too big, we have too many people,” said Cameron McCullum, a junior who plays football and has started serving as the Husky mascot. 

While Reagan is receiving the largest piece of funding, MPS is preparing projects at dozens of other schools with the COVID relief dollars. 

At Vincent High School, an estimated $3.75 million is funding repairs to agricultural program areas, a new barn and remodels of its environmental science, horticulture, aquaponics and food science classrooms and labs. 

Other top-spending projects approved include classroom additions at Greenfield Bilingual for an estimated $4 million, at Goodrich for $3 million and Milwaukee High School of the Arts for $2 million. 

Contact Rory Linnane at Follow her on Twitter at @RoryLinnane