By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 05, 2015 at 10:04 AM

The former Happy Hill Elementary School has been closed since 2006. But don't think folks at MPS haven't been thinking about it.

In recent years, the school has come up in a number of discussions about sites for expanding high-performing programs like language immersion and Montessori. In fact, one school board member and a now-retired veteran principal worked to create community support for a new Montessori program in the building a few years back.

Banner School of Milwaukee, a non-instrumentality MPS charter school, occupied the building for two years, from 2013 until June.

Now, the district is again turning to the community as it seeks to re-open a potential new school – built in 1958 – at 7171 W. Brown Deer Rd., just east of the former Northridge Mall site.

The district hosts a pair of information sessions at the school: Saturday, Oct. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m.; and Thursday, Oct. 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

What we know so far is that the school – which has 21 classrooms and a respectable 425 capacity – will reopen next September, accepting 3K (if it's a Montessori school) and 4K students and will add a grade level each year until a full K3 through 8 program is created.

Because – like all Montessori and language immersion programs – Happy Hill will be a citywide specialty school, the program will offer transportation.

But will it be a Montessori program – the K3 component would seem a strong indication of that because these schools always offer K3 – or will it be a language immersion, starting at K4?

That's for you to help decide. You can start by taking the district's survey here and then attending one of the sessions.

In addition to offering a much needed specialty option on the far northwest side, the program will ultimately also add middle school seats in an area that could really use them. And, hey, if a high-performing specialty school draws a few kids in from the nearby suburbs, the increased enrollment will help the bottom line for the entire district.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.