FLATIRON — Baruch College Campus High School opened its renovated science lab to students for the first time this week — one of many upgrades the school was planning after moving into its run-down building four years ago.
The public high school — which focuses on college preparation and is known for its strong science program and 100 percent graduation rate — found broken furniture and damaged lockers in 2009 when it moved into 55 W. 25th St., which formerly housed the School for the Physical City, the Manhattan Suspension Center and a charter school.
The science lab had no safety shower, and the gas for Bunsen burners hadn't been turned on in years, said Alicia Perez-Katz, principal of Baruch College Campus High School.
“The space had been wrecked,” said Perez-Katz. “Lockers were bashed in, there was graffiti all over the tables, and books were piled high to the ceiling in the gym. Stuff was just everywhere.”
While the school also lacked a library and an auditorium, parents and staff agreed that building a new science lab was a top priority, Perez-Katz said. The school offers Advanced Placement science classes, including AP biology, and recently added an environmental science class that requires lab work.
"There was a safety issue of not having a shower to flush the eyes in the case of an accident," Perez-Katz said.
The $150,000 renovation, which began over the summer and finished in October, included new cabinets, tables, light fixtures, flooring and a shower station, and the gas has since been turned on, she said.
“This room has the best lighting in the school now,” said Perez-Katz. “It’s amazing what a difference in lighting can do.”
The school is unveiling the new lab to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 18.
Funding for the science lab came from City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and the City Council's Finance Committee.
The school, which falls just short of the cutoff for Title 1 funding given to schools serving low-income families, is known for its high performance on standardized tests and has scored an A on its Department of Education progress report card for the past three years.
“We’re financially limited, while trying to provide the kind of enrichment we offer to prepare students for college,” Perez-Katz said.
Looking ahead, Mendez, City Councilman Dan Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer have allocated $500,000 to renovate the school's cafeteria — including adding a stage, lighting and a sound system — so that it can double as an auditorium.
Meanwhile, in response to the lack of a library, students recently launched a lending library in one of the English classrooms. The library features an online catalog, where students can check which books are available.
Baruch College also lets the high school students use its library for research and its gym for basketball games, because the high school's gym is too small, Perez-Katz said.
“We’re coming together one step at a time,” she said.