After a breakneck-speed negotiation, Madison is poised to decide the biggest investment for a private development in city history with a huge question for Mayor Paul Soglin and the City Council: Is it worth it?
Gus Ramirez embarked on one of the most ambitious projects of his philanthropic career earlier this year when he pledged to make a $60 million investment in improving education in Milwaukee with the development of a new K-12 school on the city's south side.
Concerned about the future workforce of his company, Waukesha-based HUSCO International Inc., and fed up with the performance of Milwaukee Public Schools, Ramirez made a bold proposal to play a more direct role in improving education in Milwaukee.
His proposed school, Augustine Prep, has garnered as much criticism from public school advocates, teachers' unions and charter school competitors as it has support from those who understand his vision. Much of the criticism stems from competition among schools to draw students and, with them, public funds.
“I believe this is something God wants to happen and He's given me enough nudges, opened up enough doors, created enough options for us to be successful that I think He's had a hand in this process,” said Ramirez, who serves as executive chairman of HUSCO. “If I didn't feel that, we wouldn't be doing it.”