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City Eyes Swath of Midtown for Students at New West Village Middle School

 A huge swath of District 2 has no zoned middle school. The Community Education Council president says it's because
A huge swath of District 2 has no zoned middle school. The Community Education Council president says it's because "a certain segment of the population" didn't want their kids going to school with kids who live in project housing.
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Community Education Council District

MIDTOWN EAST — A 30-block swath of Midtown is being eyed as the potential "zone" to draw students for a new middle school in the West Village, district planning officials said Tuesday night.

The school at 75 Morton St., which is currently under construction, is expected to welcome its first students in September 2017. It will be the newest middle school in Manhattan's District 2.

READ MORE: Parents Want Admissions Process at 75 Morton St. to Promote Diversity

The district is the largest in the borough, and runs from Battery Park to 59th Street on the west side and 96th Street on the east side, plus Roosevelt Island.

It has four zoned middle schools: Baruch, which gives preference to families in Battery Park, SoHo, Greenwich Village, part of Chelsea, Gramercy, Murray Hill and Midtown East; Wagner, which gives preference to families on the Upper East Side; M.S. 131, which gives preference to families in Chinatown; and P.S. 217, which gives preference to families on Roosevelt Island.

But a huge section of District 2 west of Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street to 59th Street is unzoned.

Students who live in Hell's Kitchen and the upper part of Chelsea "do not receive zoned preference to any middle school," Hallie Martin, a district planner for the Department of Education, said at the District 2 Community Education Council meeting at the High School for Art and Design on East 56th Street Tuesday night.

The Department of Education is "thinking about rezoning and thinking about potential scenarios" for 75 Morton St. with an eye to "providing students in that area with a zoned preference to a school," Martin said.

The DOE is also considering "aligning middle school zones with current elementary zones so that we could create continuity of communities where possible" in District 2, Martin said. "That would be our preference."

There are more elementary school zones than there are middle schools, so multiple elementary schools would feed into one middle school.

"We would like to not separate or divide elementary school zones, if possible," she added.

Over the course of February and March, the district planning office will analyze data like demographics, enrollment trends, residential data and school capacity and demand to come up with draft zone scenarios, Martin and O'Brien said.

At District 2's Community Education Council President Shino Tanikawa's request, the planners are expected to return with a draft of their plan in early February before the winter break, though DOE planner Jessica O'Brien said that was an unusually "aggressive" timeline and that she was unsure they could secure the requisite "engagement with key stakeholders" by then.

They aim to present a final plan to the public at a CEC meeting in early April, and once the plan is submitted, the CEC has 45 days to vote to approve the plan — or to vote it down.

The plan must receive the approval of at least six of the 10 CEC members in order to be put in place.