New middle schools pitched for Morton St.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON   | Two middle schools may be coming to the soon-to-be-vacant West Village building at 75 Morton St.

Members of the 75 Morton Task Force discussed possible school plans for the building on Jan. 24. The committee is a joint initiative of Community Board 2 and the District 2 Community Education Council. According to a School Construction Authority official, a likely scenario for the building between Hudson and Greenwich Sts. would be two middle schools, including a number of special education students.

The 177,000-square-foot, seven-story building can accommodate 900 seats for students, of which S.C.A. would like 90 seats to be for special ed students.

District 2 middle schools are typically not zoned, so the Morton St. building would likely draw a sizable number of students south of Canal St., where there are not many middle school choices.

The site is currently used by the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which was supposed to have already vacated, but the move-out was delayed by Superstorm Sandy. As part of the approval last year of the Rudin residential redevelopment project for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital campus, the city agreed to buy 75 Morton St. from the state to help address the Village’s shortage of school seats.

However, C.B. 2 and C.E.C. members weren’t set on the S.C.A.’s preferred uses for the building, and are still considering different mixes of uses, notably including an elementary school.

Bob Ely, a neighbor who championed obtaining 75 Morton St. for a new school, said he felt that if there are to be two middle schools, an appropriate complementary use would be a good, small high school, along the lines of the Upper West Side’s Beacon School, which one of the middle schools could feed into.

A big concern of P.S. 3 parents is that they’d like students for the middle schools to be screened by geographical preference, meaning local kids would get first dibs. But, Ely said, as opposed to elementary schools, middle schools generally don’t work that way. District 2 covers a very broad area, stretching from the Battery to the Upper East Side.

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