Volume 16 • Issue 31 | December 30 - January 8, 2004

First private school to open Downtown in 2005

By Elizabeth O’Brien

An educational entrepreneur has decided to invest in Wall Street with the creation of a new private school for grades kindergarten through eight across from the New York Stock Exchange.

Michael Koffler, president and C.E.O. of MetSchools, Inc., plans to open Claremont Preparatory School at 41 Broad St. in the fall of 2005. MetSchools, Inc. currently operates seven nursery schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, and Koffler said parents helped him realize the need for more elementary and middle school options.

Koffler presented plans for the school last week at a meeting of the youth and education committee of Community Board 1.

“Ambitious project—it’s a great idea,” said Bob Townley, a member of C.B. 1 and the director of Manhattan Youth, a nonprofit organization that runs after-school programs Downtown.

The nine-story building at 41 Broad St. will accommodate 1,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grades, Koffler said. There will be 400 students in grades K through 5 and 600 in grades 6, 7 and 8, and the school will open with all grades in place. Elementary school students are guaranteed a spot in the upper grades if they chose to continue at Claremont, Koffler added.

Admission is scheduled to begin in September, 2004. Younger grade applicants must take an E.R.B., or Educational Records Bureau, exam, and all applicants will interview with educational professionals.

Claremont Preparatory School will serve children who are functioning at grade level, although small class sizes will allow teachers to give extra attention to students who may need reinforcement, Koffler said. The curriculum will take advantage of the community’s resources, with trips to Downtown museums and even a sailing program planned as part of the instructional offerings.

MetSchools has secured adequate funding for the new school, Koffler said. Tuition will be comparable to other private schools in the city, or about $22,500 annually. There will be some scholarships available, Koffler said.

When Koffler first came before the community board last summer, he named 23 Wall St., the former JP Morgan building directly across from the stock exchange, as the tentative location of his new school. The current spot is preferable, Koffler said last week, because it is down the street from the exchange and thus slightly removed from its tight security.

Even so, some board members have expressed concerns about a school so close to a potential terrorist target. Koffler said that school buses would be able to pull directly up to the school.

“There are some serious security issues with this,” said Joel Kopel, a member of C.B. 1’s youth and education committee, in a telephone interview. He said buses could be vulnerable to suicide bombers, as they are in Israel, and such an attack could do irreparable harm to the students and their surroundings.

“This is an accident or a disaster waiting to happen,” Kopel said.

Koffler said he met with Captain Michael Hurley, commanding officer of the First Police Precinct, to discuss security at the school. Officials at the First Precinct did not return calls for comment by press time.

Claremont will likely be the first private school in the immediate area of the stock exchange. Last fall, the public Millennium High School opened down the street at 75 Broad St.

As of last summer, there were no private schools accredited with the New York State Association of Independent Schools located south of Canal St. Claremont will be run as a for-profit institution and thus will not be accredited as an independent school, Koffler said, but it will have to comply with state and city regulations.

Koffler said he had considered Lower Manhattan as a location for a new school before Sept. 11, 2001. After the terror attacks, he felt that continuing with his plans would help revitalize the area.

Koffler said he expected to sign the lease for 41 Broad St. the week of Jan. 5.



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