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Fisher renovation offers some elbow room

Montessori, recreation use new spaces

Kathy Oestreich and other Wauwatosa Recreation Department staff work in renovated space of in the Fisher Building. The Recreation Department moved to the new space from Wauwatosa West High School.

Kathy Oestreich and other Wauwatosa Recreation Department staff work in renovated space of in the Fisher Building. The Recreation Department moved to the new space from Wauwatosa West High School. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Sept. 19, 2012

Wauwatosa Montessori School and the Wauwatosa Recreation Department are enjoying the fruits of the Fisher Building's new downstairs.

The $975,000, 35,000-square-foot renovation was completed at the beginning of the school year and was under budget. The projected cost of the renovation was $1.3 million.

Don Mack, director of business services for the Wauwatosa School District, said that the project was completed under budget because they didn't have to completely redo the sprinkler system in a few rooms.

The Montessori school has been a primary benefactor of the remodel, gaining two classrooms and a gym.

This is the second year of Wauwatosa's Montessori program, and before the remodel they couldn't use the gym. The gym was previously filled with heating and ventilation systems. The heating and ventilation was moved to the roof in the renovation.

"The kids love the building," said Bill Anderson, Montessori principal. "When we got them in the gym for the first day, we got them running around and excited. As parents came in to the open house meet and greet, they were very impressed. They were like 'holy cow has this place come a long way.' "

The enrollment for Montessori has increased from 63 students last year to 87 this year. The Montessori program differs from other programs in that its focus is on pedagogical learning and multi-age classrooms.

"Last year when we had art classes, they took place in the hallway. We would set up tables and we would build an art room. We made it happen. In terms of the gym area that we can utilize, we had to use the multipurpose room as a gym when we couldn't be outside. We were very limited as to the physical education aspects," Anderson said.

Montessori also gained a staffed kitchen and can use the ovens whereas before they use the ovens for some things but didn't have a hot lunch program.

The renovation coincided with the end of the School of the Trades program. The students in the program helped with some of the early demolition at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

The Recreation Department moved to the Fisher Building from West High School at the end of the renovation. They were at West for 20 years.

The new location adds slightly to the office and storage space of the Recreation Department, but the largest change for them is the gym.

The department plans to use the gym for adult fitness classes and has plans in place for daytime preschool activities and sports leagues.

Rick Beattie, the director of the recreation department, said, "The gymnasium is the thing that offers us new use. It takes the pressure off the other schools and we use all of them whenever we can. Other than that it was just locating the same function to a different space."

There is still minor work to do in the Fisher Building. The building has occupancy permits and is allowed to be in use, but minor items, called "punchless" items, will still need to be worked on. These items will be checked by an architect.

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