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New Middle School to Be Opened in Unused P.S. 158 Space, Officials Say

By Victoria Bekiempis | March 8, 2013 12:02pm | Updated on March 8, 2013 3:50pm

YORKVILLE — After several years of lobbying the Department of Education and elected officials to relieve overcrowding, Upper East Siders are getting a middle school in P.S. 158's vacant space, officials announced Friday.

The new school, which will be co-located with an existing elementary school at 1485 York Ave., is expected to open in the fall of 2014, officials said.

The school will be a district public school — not a charter — officials from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's said.

The new school — the sixth middle school on the Upper East Side — will have 10 classes and approximately 300 students, Stringer said.

There are 24 middle schools within District 2 — an area that spans TriBeCa, Midtown and the Upper East Side — but only five are located in the Upper East Side, according to Insideschools.

 A middle school is coming to P.S. 158, at 1458 York Ave., officials said.
A middle school is coming to P.S. 158, at 1458 York Ave., officials said.
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Parents have long argued that five middle schools aren't enough, saying that overcrowding has been exacerbated by the recent addition of three new elementary schools in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood middle schools are too big or specialized, parents said — and they don't feel comfortable sending their adolescents Downtown by themselves.

In addition, they have adamantly protested against putting a charter school in the P.S. 158 space, citing extensive difficulties during the brief co-location of Girls Prep in the building.

Stringer was joined by City Council Member Jessica Lappin, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Members Micah Kellner and Dan Quart at a news conference to announce the opening of the school.

"We were all there with the parents," Stringer told DNAinfo.com New York. "This is the kind of cooperation that leads to action."

Calling parents "great victors," Quart also lauded local moms and dads' efforts.

"They were the engine working with us as elected officials to get this done," he said.

The DOE said it's "thrilled" to open a new middle school.

"For months we have been engaging with elected officials, community leaders, and parents, so we can best serve the needs of students in this neighborhood," Deputy Chancellor for Portfolio Planning Marc Sternberg said in a statement. "We sought feedback — and we listened. We're excited to provide this new option to families."

Parents were ecstatic with the developments.

"It's sorely needed. Now we're able to send our children to a middle school in our neighborhood," Debra Millman, who has a 7-year-old at nearby P.S. 59, told DNAinfo.com New York. "Our children have had to travel on busses, on subways, to go to middle school and now we're able to keep them in the community."

Todd Helmrich, a parent on P.S. 158's School Leadership Team,  said he was impressed by the DOE's willingness to work with the community.

"They listened to us and were more open than I had expected," said Helmrich, who has a kindergartner and first grader at 158. "I'm excited that my kids are going to be able to walk to school in a few years."