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School children, especially those of low-income and minority populations, will have a new educational launch pad here when La Casa de Esperanza opens its $6.5 million charter school on Sept. 1.

Anselmo Villarreal, president and CEO of La Casa, talked about the educational philosophy of the charter school to supporters at a July 26 event hosted by Weldall Manufacturing, 2001 S. Prairie Ave.

La Casa began its charter school in 2015, across the street from its main building. (A used-car dealership was converted into an educational center.)

During the past year, La Casa built a 41,000-square-foot, three-level educational center on Caroline Street. Plans call for the school to provide 4-year-old kindergarten through eighth-grade education in seven to 10 years, Villarreal said.

The building stands on the former La Casa parking lot behind its main building at 401 Arcadian Ave.

Working ideas

Villarreal stressed that the mission of the school, and of La Casa in general, is to make a difference in the community.

Event organizer Brian Dorow,  a member of the community agency's board of directors, said the school will fulfill its mission by preparing pupils for the workforce.

"They (employers) are in need of a workforce, and we (La Casa charter school) are going to be a model for that," Dorow said in an opening statement at the July 26 event.

Anselmo told the gathering that students would learn about personal responsibility, discipline and patriotism.  

"They have a responsibility to be self-sufficient," Villarreal said. "It's important that all of our (students) understand that it's a privilege to be in this country."

A mission of the school is to close what's viewed as a gap in academic achievement between low-income children of color and their counterparts in mainstream schools, he said.

A La Casa Charter School education means graduates should be equipped to attend the high schools, trade schools and colleges of their choice, he said.     

The school has its charter through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, not the Waukesha School District.

Student body

The school now has 128 students with a goal of growing to 200 by adding a second-grade class.

Although the majority of students are from Waukesha, all are welcome to attend the school, regardless of economic and racial status, Villarreal said.

School lessons are taught in English to ensure that every student is proficient in the language, he said. Spanish will be taught as a second language starting in first grade.

Students wear uniforms. Classrooms average 22 students per teacher and each teaching assistant is assigned to two classes, Villarreal said. 

The plans calls for adding a grade each year, until the school reaches eighth grade.

The school does not charge tuition, but fundraising is needed to pay operational costs, Villarreal said. (The agency has a $500,000 challenge grant pledged to it, provided it raise $500,000 on its own. The agency is around $100,000 short of its goal, and could use additional contributions, he said.)

An open house for the new building is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. To enroll, visit bit.ly/2hh6GvI.

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