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New Chelsea School Inundated by Applications in Runup to Fall Opening

By Meredith Hoffman

DNAInfo Reporter/Producer

CHELSEA — A new private school for Pre-K to 12th grade students in Chelsea has been bombarded with applications in anticipation of its planned opening in fall 2012, school officials said Monday.

Avenues: The World School is on track to move into an existing ten-story building at 259 Tenth Avenue near West 25th Street and the High Line, and is seeking permission to raise the top floor height another 18 feet so they can put a gymnasium inside, officials said at a Community Board 4 meeting Monday night.

"We’ve already had over 1000 applications for fall 2012, and between a third and a fourth of those come from the area,” Ray Bordwell, the school’s chief facilities officer, told CB4's land use committee.

"We also have about 256 positions to hire people, and we hope to fill those with neighborhood residents.”

The school will be part of a network of 20 future campuses across the globe, all of which will share a common curriculum and faculty. The institution boasts being a pioneer of "global schools,” with future locations including Tokyo, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, and Delhi.

The community board, noting the school’s location across the street from a public housing complex, asked the school to set aside a specific amount of scholarship money for students specifically in Chelsea, because they will be most affected by the construction and changes to the neighborhood.

The board also warned that they're concerned about additional traffic near the school, and expressed apprehension about the modifications to the historic Tenth Ave. building. The school has asked for an exemption from the current requirement that the ground floor be used as commercial space.

"We’ll be adding as much by adding the school as if there were retail there,” said Bordwell, noting that the space will be able to hold about 1600 students.

Bordwell said he was eager to work with local residents and organizations to address community concerns over its facilities and relationship with the neighborhood.

He said that his school intends to provide financial aid to a portion of local students.

And he added that the school might host local basketball games or community plays to open its doors to neighbors. He said that the institution has also pledged annual $250,000 donations to the High Line for three years.

The community board requested that the school work with Hudson Guild, a nearby non-profit with health and mental health services.

"I felt the board’s comments were helpful. It’s not too early to start talking about what the community needs might be and how we might help them in a supportive way,” said Bordwell.

The first year, the school plans to accept students in Pre-Kindergarden through 9th grades.