Port parish to break ground for $5.6 million school project

Expansion of St. John XXIII St. Peter’s campus will allow for consolidation, sale of St. Mary’s school

THE ADDITION TO St. John XXIII School in Port Washington will includes six classrooms and a media center, as well as the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) lab pictured in this rendering by Plunkett Raysich Architects. Also included in the expansion project is the creation of a gathering area for the parish’s St. Peter of Alcantara Church, school offices, meeting rooms and spaces for religious and adult education classes.
Ozaukee Press staff

A truckload of dirt has been dropped off at St. John XXIII School in Port Washington, where hard hats will be the accessory of the day for an 11:30 a.m.  groundbreaking ceremony Sunday, Dec. 9, that will mark the beginning of a construction project intended to consolidate the school’s two campuses next year.

The project, which has been in the works for several years, includes construction of a 19,700-square-foot addition to the east side of the school and a 5,000 square-foot renovation  of the existing school.

  “It’s exciting to finally get going,” Parish Coordinator Mike Burch said, noting that some construction equipment is already on site and security fencing is up.

Students will be a big part of the groundbreaking, with St. John XXIII graduate and Port Washington High School student Andrew Schmitz playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” on trumpet to lead people at the 10:30 a.m. Mass to the groundbreaking, Burch said.

Students who have been identified as  “Living Out Our School Mission” will help Father Patrick Wendt, Principal Kristine Klein, Burch, local dignitaries and Director of Children’s Ministry Denise Murre in a ceremonial shoveling of dirt for the groundbreaking.

Also on hand will be representatives of CG Schmidt, the general contractor, and Plunkett Raysich Architects.

The project will add six classrooms, a media center and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) lab to the east side of the current school, while offices, spaces for the religious and adult education programs and meeting rooms will be added to the west side.

In addition, the narthex of St. John XXIII Parish’s St. Peter of Alcantara Church will be renovated to create a gathering area for parishioners.

Burch said contractors are expected to begin work late this week or next week.

Work on the footings and basement will be among the first projects tackled, he said, as well as construction of a new elevator and staircase. The gathering area will also be constructed near the beginning of the project, Burch said. 

Because much of the work involves constructing the addition at the back of the school, he said, it will help minimize disruption to classes.

The connection between the addition and the existing school won’t be opened until the end, he added.

The parish has also changed its Mass schedule to accommodate the construction, Burch said, moving the Thursday morning Mass from St. Peter’s to Immaculate Conception Church in Saukville. 

Access to St. Peter’s Church will be maintained for Masses on Tuesdays and the weekends, he said.

“There’s going to be a little inconvenience, and we’re sorry for that, but it’s unavoidable,” he said.

The school is planning to hold different celebrations as the construction reaches various milestones, Burch said, noting this will help keep the excitement going.

The project is expected to cost $5.6 million, more than originally planned.

“Because of today’s world, we had to add more security,” Burch said, accounting for the increased cost.

The school has raised more than half the funds already, he said, and plans to hold another “debt reduction campaign” in the next 18 months, he said.

“The parish has been very generous,” Burch said.

In addition, the St. Mary’s School building is expected to be sold to Ansay Development for $620,000, funds that will go toward the expansion project, Burch said.

Ansay has an accepted offer to purchase not just the school but the adjoining parish center, and has said it wants to convert it to an apartment building with 25 to 35 market-rate units. It has asked the city to create a pay-as-you-go tax incremental financing district for this project.

Burch said Ansay officials have said they will know by February if the project will move ahead. 

The renovation and expansion is an ambitious project that will allow the school to close its St. Mary’s Campus and consolidate operations at the St. Peter’s Campus next year.

“We’re hoping and planning to be in the school by the beginning of the school year next fall,” Burch said. “It’s a fairly aggressive schedule.”


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