A pioneering charter high school that has been a fixture in Long Island City for more than three decades may be forced to move at the end of the school year, angry parents and a nonprofit organization said.
Middle College High School, located in a building across Van Dam Street from LaGuardia Community College, combines its high school curriculum with City University of New York courses at LaGuardia and allows some students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree. It was the model for several charter high schools at CUNY colleges throughout the five boroughs.
After 35 years, the owner of the building, at 45−35 Van Dam St., recently declined to renew the city Department of Education’s lease, and now the school faces the prospect of being forced to move away from campus.
“We are very concerned,” said Middle College PTA President Rick Viteri, who said the school only informed parents of the situation two months ago. “If they move in some other place, they won’t be in the same campus.”
The 53,300−square−foot building is listed for sale or lease by the real estate firm CB Richard Ellis. City Finance Department records show the building’s market value for the upcoming year was assessed at nearly $6 million.
DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the city is “discussing options with the landlord” and declined to comment further.
“We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals,” she said. “It’s too premature.”
But Ted Killmer, spokesman for the Middle College National Consortium, the Long Island City−based nonprofit that sponsors similar high schools throughout the country based on the LaGuardia school’s model, said the DOE is considering moving the school to the former location of St. Patrick’s School about a mile away, something the school itself opposes.
“If it were to do that, it would jeopardize the entire program,” he said. “It would be a longer school day divided between high school and college, so therefore not really meeting the needs of the program.”
Last year, the school had 454 students. Of the 87 seniors graduating, 90 percent had college credits and 14 graduated with associate degrees.
City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) expressed support for the school and its relationship with LaGuardia.
“For more than two decades, there has been a very successful relationship that has let students at Middle College High School thrive,” he said. “That relationship needs to continue so more students get the same opportunities to succeed.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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