In an effort to better accommodate the recent and projected student enrollment growth, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has made an offer to purchase the former Lincoln Elementary School, 608 Algoma Blvd., from the Oshkosh School District. The Oshkosh School Board approved the $1.48 million offer at its April 28 meeting. The deal will go to the UW System Board of Regents and the Department of Administration in June; and could be finalized as early as July 1. Campus-based resources will not be used for the purchase; it will be funded by dollars earmarked by the state for high-priority property acquisitions.
The 52,000-square-foot facility, located adjacent to the University, would be retrofitted to accommodate the University’s Children’s Learning and Care Center (CLCC) and the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement (LLCE), which houses the campus’ community outreach programs. The Children’s Learning and Care Center supports the children of students, faculty and staff on campus. It has become increasingly in demand as many more nontraditional students have come to attend UW Oshkosh. It would also allow the center to accommodate the children of more faculty and staff.
Meanwhile, student enrollment in outreach programs has grown by 35 percent in the past two years. At present, the staff members who support these programs are scattered between buildings on campus. The new space would allow the entire LLCE staff to be under one roof.
“The University’s use of the Lincoln School site would also help the campus respond more effectively to instructional and service space needs both on the campus and throughout the surrounding community,” said Tom Sonnleitner, vice chancellor for administrative services. “For example, the move of some outreach offices to the space will allow us to offer veterans more support services in Dempsey Hall, which is of increasing importance as many more veterans attend classes at the University. Meanwhile, moving the childcare facility will allow space in Swart to be used as classroom space.”
The Oshkosh School District closed Lincoln Elementary in 2009 and moved students to Read Elementary in an effort to consolidate resources. Upon hearing of the closing, the UW Oshkosh Foundation facilitated discussions between the district and the University.
“This is really a win-win situation,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells. “It is a positive for the school district because it allows it to sell unused capital resources; it’s a positive for the University because it allows us to meet the growing needs of our nontraditional student population without undertaking a much more expensive new construction project; and it is a positive for the community because the building will no longer stand vacant.”
This is another example of the University giving new life to a vacant building. In September 2009, the University retrofitted the vacated former Cub Foods building, which stood empty for more three years, and relocated its campus services. The space now houses the University’s Facilities Management, Central Stores/Receiving, Document Services and Postal Services departments.