With a $14 million donation from American Girl founder and philanthropist Pleasant Rowland, One City Schools announced plans on Tuesday to purchase an office building in Monona that will become a new home for the fast-growing independent charter school.
One City will use the donation to buy a 157,000-square-foot office building on the campus of WPS Health Solutions for $12 million and transform it into a school.
Kaleem Caire, founder and CEO of One City, also said the school received conditional approval earlier this year from its charter authorizer — the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity — to start teaching middle- and high-schoolers in the fall of 2022.
“This is huge, having Pleasant Rowland’s support like this,” Caire said in an interview. “It’s a sign that the opportunity’s here for us to do something great, there are a lot more people that want to do great things for our children and the schools that we’re creating.”
The four-story building at 1707 W. Broadway will take in kindergarten to fourth-grade students next fall.
One City, which predominantly educates disadvantaged populations, currently enrolls 167 children from 2 years old to second grade through its private preschool and public charter portions spread across two locations on Madison’s South Side. Third and fourth grade will be added in 2021-22.
By 2024 — when One City expects all grade levels to be introduced — the school plans to teach at least 888 K-12 students at the new Monona location and 66 preschool students at an existing Madison location.
The WPS building will get $2 million in renovations out of the $14 million donation from Rowland, Caire said, but One City expects an additional $6 million to $8 million could be necessary to fully transform the space, including adding a gymnasium, science labs and culinary spaces.