DOE Plan: Add 500 Students to University Neighborhood High School Building

200 Monroe St.

The other day parents and City Council member Margaret Chin rallied in opposition to a plan to locate a new high school within a building at 200 Monroe St. that is currently home to University Neighborhood High School.  As expected, the Department of Education made its proposal official.

200 Monroe St.
200 Monroe St.

The DOE’s “Educational Impact Statement” now posted online states:

The New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) is proposing to co-locate 01M203, a new district Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) /early college high school, in school building M446 (“M446”) located at 200 Monroe Street… within the geographical confines of Community School District 1 (“District 1”). 1 CTE programs integrate academic study with workforce skills in specific career clusters.2 Students receive instruction in an industry-related area and have the opportunity to graduate high school with industry-specific competencies and skills that lead to postsecondary education, further industry training and/or entry into the workforce. The early college program is designed to give students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree free of charge, and to put them on a postsecondary pathway potentially leading to career-track employment within the advertising industry. The proposed new high school, 01M203, will offer CTE programming in advertising with a focus on business and media, as described in more detail below, as well as early college programming. If this proposal is approved, 01M203 will be co-located in building M446 with University Neighborhood High School (01M448, “UNHS”), an existing district high school serving students in grades nine through twelve. M446 also houses a community-based organization (“CBO”), Grand Street Settlement.3 The proposed co-location of 01M203 is not expected to impact the current or future student enrollment, admissions policies or instructional programming at UNHS.

The school would debut in 2014 with up to 85 students (in the 9th grade) and would eventually enroll up to 510 students.   According to the DOE, University Neighborhood High School will be serving 275 students during the 2013-2014 school year.  The Education Department claims the building is “underutilized” and that its “target capacity” is 694 students.

At the rally the other day, Chin and parents said the DOE’s calculations are deeply flawed.  Not only are many rooms in the 1903 building under-sized, the building is lacking many features, including a dedicated gym, lunch room or auditorium.  Lisa Donlan, head of the District 1 Community Education Council, noted that University Neighborhood High School’s performance has improved dramatically in the past year (from a D to almost an A).  She also said DOE officials have conceded in public meetings that there’s no room to add new schools in District 1.  This new proposal, she suggested, is part of a desperate rush, in the waning days of the Bloomberg Administration, to push through as many new initiatives as possible.

A public meeting is scheduled October 7 at the school building, 200 Monroe St., to hear community feedback about the plan (a legal requirement that almost never has any bearing on the DOE’s decision-making). The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. The Panel For Education Policy will meet to vote on siting the new school on the Lower East Side October 15.