Volume 17 • Issue 19 | October 01 - 07, 2004

Shifting enrollment at Millennium High school

By Ronda Kaysen

Enrollment at Millennium High School in Tribeca is on the rise, but the number of Downtown teens applying to the liberal arts school remains flat, according to Robert Rhodes, the school’s principal.

The school, now in its third year, has watched its enrollment climb from 340 students last year to 210 students this year. Of those, 50 percent or about 64 students hail from below Houston St. Rhodes expressed concern that although the number of Downtown kids held steady, as the school’s population increased the percentage was falling. “It’s a study in contrast,” said Rhodes to a Community Board 1’s Sept. 28 youth committee meeting.

Millennium High School has been at its 75 Broad St. location since last September. It spent its first year at the Art & Design High School in Midtown while three floors of 75 Broad St. were being renovated for the students.

The fledgling school, the first new school to open Downtown after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, has seen a “dramatic” rise in student G.P.A., according to Rhodes. Fifty percent of the schools students are on the honor roll. Rhodes cites lack of interest from Downtown teens and parents for the stagnant local numbers. Margie Cooper, the school’s head guidance counselor, noted that not one parent from I.S. 89, a Battery Park middle school, attended the school’s first tour for prospective parents. “There isn’t a fair representation from parents below Houston St.,” she said.

Of the Downtown kids who do apply to Millennium, one third of them come from M.S. 131 on Hester St. According to Cooper, many Downtown middle schools do not direct their students to Millennium. “We are making an extreme effort to reach those kids,” she said. “We do a lot more outreach than many of the other schools are doing.”

Youth committee member and Battery Park City resident Barry Skolnick, expressed concern that Downtown applicants were being passed over for teens from other neighborhoods. “It wasn’t so much that they aren’t interested,” he said. “It is surprising to see how many of them aren’t getting in.”

Five hundred and thirty-seven Downtown students applied to Millennium High School this year. Of them, 174 were accepted — one third of the Downtown applicants. Rhodes attributed the low numbers to the school’s competitive selection process. “There’s a tension between admitting all students from below Houston St. and admitting students from high achieving high schools,” he said. If the school selected less competitive applicants, he would “have to run a different academic program.”

Rhodes attributes the rise in applicants – 2,000 students applied for 125 available slots in the 2004-05 school – to an improving reputation. The school, which is over 100 percent capacity for its 9th grade class, has begun to see interest from students coming out of the city’s private and parochial schools. 10 percent of the students come from the city’s specialty schools.

“The reputation is picking up,” Tom Goodkind, a committee member and Battery Park City resident assured the principal. “Your time will come.”


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