Volume 79, Number 22 | November 04 - 10, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


G.V.M.S. will move Downtown; Morton site still in limbo

By Albert Amateau

About 100 parents of the potential new Greenwich Village Middle School class made a visit last week to the Financial District office building that the Department of Education intends as the new home for the middle school that now shares a crowded Hudson St. building with P.S. 3.

Kelly McGuire, G.V.M.S. principal, and some of his students came down to 26 Broadway, two miles away from their current Village home, on Oct. 29 to welcome parents to the new school being converted from office space on the sixth and seventh floors.

The building is also the home of the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, a city high school located on the fourth and fifth floors of the ornate former Standard Oil office tower. The reception for the new parents was actually held in the Urban Assembly school because the proposed G.V.M.S. facilities are still under construction, scheduled to be completed in time for the beginning of the 2010 school year.

McGuire said he was most pleased that the proposed new home will have much more space — 14 classrooms — than the school at 490 Hudson St., which has nine rooms for the sixth, seventh and eighth middle school grades.

The name of the school will change, McGuire indicated. 

“I’ve been talking to parents and students about it. We’ll decide after the first of the year,” he  said. “I wanted to keep the Greenwich Village Middle School name — it’s been 14 years — but it doesn’t make sense. Especially since the kids come from everywhere, not just the Village,” he added.

Indeed, Amy Mata, 13, an eighth grade student who expects to graduate from G.V.M.S. in June, told The Villager that she has been taking the subway from the Bronx for the past three years with a few friends who also attend G.V.M.S.

Currently, the school has 215 students and expects to have 240 next year, three classes in each grade, when the school moves Downtown. The new quarters, which include a dance studio, a multi-purpose room, a recreation room, a full library, a cafeteria and a computer lab, will have a capacity in the future of 361 students.

But at a Department of Education hearing on the evening of Oct. 29 on the Greenwich Village Middle School’s relocation, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Village school activists testified against the move and demanded that the city acquire the state-owned building at 75 Morton St., for a middle school to serve the Village.

Elected officials and neighborhood school advocates have been calling for about two years for the city to acquire the underused, seven-story building from New York State.

“This move [to 26 Broadway] will remove the only middle school in Greenwich Village and place it in the middle of a highly congested business district distant from its home neighborhood,” Glick said in written testimony at the hearing.

“The move is even more befuddling given that it will cost the city $250 million over 30 years and at the end of the day the property will return to the landlord,” she said.

Glick said the state-owned 75 Morton St. “has been available for no more than $78 million.” The partially unused building is stable, handicap accessible and has a cafeteria, a gym and outdoor space for recreation, she said.

“Furthermore, the city would own the property outright,” the assemblymember added. 

Glick said the Department of Education has been dragging its feet on acquiring 75 Morton St.

A D.O.E. spokesperson said in an e-mail on Nov. 2 the move was intended to vacate badly needed space at 490 Hudson St. for elementary school students in the neighborhood. The D.O.E. spokesperson said the department has asked the state whether 75 Morton St. is available for purchase but had not yet received a response. 

“So while we will continue to pursue this property for school use, it is not an option for next year,” the D.O.E. spokesperson said in an e-mail response on the issue. “It’s also important to note that fewer than one-third of the students who attend Greenwich Village Middle School actually live in Greenwich Village, [and that the other students] instead come from various different neighborhoods across District 2 and across the city,” the D.O.E. statement said.

Glick, however, said that someone in Governor Paterson’s office had assured her that 75 Morton St. was available, but the city has not pursued the issue.

“If the city wanted the property they could begin negotiations,” said Glick, noting that while most sales of state property involve formal requests for proposals, the sale to a municipality does not. “The property is just not on the city’s front burner,” Glick said.
Another hearing on the G.V.M.S. move to 26 Broadway was scheduled for Nov. 4, and the Panel for Education Policy, the governing body of D.O.E., is expected to vote for the move on Nov. 12.

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