UPPER WEST SIDE — Parents worried that the new Beacon High School building opening in Hell's Kitchen next fall won't be ready in time learned Wednesday that the new seven-story school will be ready a month earlier than expected.
The School Construction Authority, responsible for building new schools, agreed to fast-track the construction for Beacon High School Principal Ruth Lacey, who wanted to hold orientation in the new Hell's Kitchen building in August, officials said.
The school will open Aug. 1, a month earlier than the previously announced Sept. 1 move-in date, which Community Education Council District 3 members criticized as too close to the start of the school year.
SCA President Lorraine Grillo said she understood parents' anxiety about the timing of the high school's move from West 61st Street to a new state-of-the-art building on West 43rd Street.
In the early years of the SCA, founded in 1988, "we were late a few times" in opening schools, Grillo admitted. "In the past 15 years, we have not missed a single deadline," she said.
"I don’t intend to start that with Beacon High School," Grillo said.
Grillo credited Lacey with pushing the change through, calling her "forceful."
The accelerated construction timeline will cost the SCA more money, but Grillo would not say how much.
Dozens of parents applauded the school's planned Aug. 1 opening at the meeting Wednesday night. They also praised the school's planned amenities, including a music suite, dance studio, exercise room, digital photography room, darkroom, black box theater and health center.
Parents were less happy, though, with the update on the new West End Secondary School, a 6-12 school that will take over Beacon's current space on the Upper West Side next fall.
Families were disappointed to learn that instead of upgrading the cafeteria and classrooms to prepare for the middle school kids, the school's rooms will merely get a fresh coat of paint.
Eric Shuffler, a Community Board 7 member and local parent, called the situation "unfair," since Beacon is getting a whole new building and West End Secondary School is using an old one.
"The SCA has to look out for everyone," he said.
SCA representative Michael Mirasola said it wasn't clear when Beacon would vacate its current building, so the SCA wasn't sure how much renovation work could get done over the summer.
"We’ll go in as soon as they’re out," Mirasola said. "We’ll take advantage of whatever time we have."