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Principal Warns of Overcrowding Problems at Downtown's Millennium High School

By Julie Shapiro | August 9, 2010 6:54am | Updated on August 9, 2010 7:07am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Millennium High School is already so overcrowded the school has started holding classes in the hallway in order to avoid increasing class sizes — and this year the enrollment will be even higher, thanks to city budget cuts.

The school, which was founded after 9/11 in former office space at 75 Broad St., expects 630 students to attend this fall, up from 620 last year and 573 the year before. The enrollment has ballooned well above the school’s maximum capacity of 525, said the school's principal, Robert Rhodes.

“We’re barely hanging on by a fingernail,” Rhodes said in a phone interview last week.

Rhodes said the city has cut his budget by several hundred thousand dollars in the past few years, and the only way he can afford to keep his teachers is to enroll more students, which gives him more money in his budget.

Millennium seniors at graduation earlier this year.
Millennium seniors at graduation earlier this year.
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Millennium High School

Last Thursday, the city’s Independent Budget Office named Millennium the 10th most overcrowded high school in Manhattan, based on 2008-2009 numbers and a lower capacity figure of 466.

Even with the extra students Rhodes brought in, he still had to cut programs for this fall, including advanced biology and art, along with several electives.

“It’s a difficult choice,” Rhodes said. “Kids only get to go through high school once.”

Karen Manville, co-president of the PTA, said she was shocked when she first saw students being taught in the hallways.

“No matter how you chop it up, it’s a difficult decision,” said Manville, a Brooklyn resident, whose son and daughter are entering ninth and 12th grade at Millennium this fall. “It’s really frustrating.”

Emel Saat, 16, who is about to start her junior year at Millennium, said it’s hard to pay attention when she’s not in a regular classroom, and teachers get annoyed when the students are distracted.

“In regular classrooms, sometimes there aren’t enough chairs so kids sit on the floor,” Saat, a Battery Park City resident, added via text message. “Or we have to always move chairs back and forth between classrooms. And there aren’t enough lockers so either two or three people share a locker. I know some people who didn’t even have a locker.”

Millennium Principal Robert Rhodes said he accepts extra students to offset the impact of city budget cuts.
Millennium Principal Robert Rhodes said he accepts extra students to offset the impact of city budget cuts.
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Millennium High School

A Department of Education spokesman declined to comment on overcrowding at Millennium but released a statement saying schools across the city are less crowded than they were five years ago. The city is opening eight new high school sites this year, the spokesman said.

Millennium's 2010 graduating class.
Millennium's 2010 graduating class.
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Millennium High School