Education Advocates Eye Beacon Space for New UWS Middle School

By Emily Frost on January 7, 2013 12:56pm 

UPPER WEST SIDE — The years of complaints about overcrowded middle schools on the Upper West Side could end when a high school moves out of the neighborhood.

Education advocates in District 3 have been asked to assess if the building that currently houses the Beacon School could be used when that school moves to Hell's Kitchen.

The Department of Education is moving Beacon from its current West 61st Street location to a new state-of-the art campus at 521 West 43rd St.

In August, the city broke ground on the new campus, formerly a New York Public Library Annex, which was purchased by the School Construction Authority for $45 million. 

The new 200,000-square-foot school will open in Fall 2015.

Community Education Council 3 President Christine Annechino said that at a recent meeting Yael Kalban, a DOE portfolio planning manager, asked: "'Would D3 be interested in housing a D3 school in [Beacon?]'"

"We are basically being given the Beacon space," Annechino said.

She said that while there is consensus around the need for a new district middle school among parents, teachers and administrators, the community needs to decide if the Beacon space best suits a middle school, a combined middle school and high school, an elementary school or another high school.

Parent and Community Board 7 member Eric Shuffler urged the group to move quickly.

"As a parent, I have no interest in some hypothetical planning process," he said.

"There is an opportunity in front of us that we should seize."

Another parent added, "This is right here, right now and it's a ripe opportunity that we have to take."

Annechino said that a small group would accompany the DOE in walking through Beacon and assessing what it's best suited for, and what structural changes would be needed.

The DOE did not respond to requests for comment about the future of the building.

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