Long Awaited School Coming to Upper West Side

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A long-held dream among families on Manhattan's Upper West Side has come true. After years of agitating, the local City Council member said on Tuesday that doors to a new combined middle and high school will open in September 2015.

And because of some clever maneuvering, the high school portion will give admissions priority to local District 3 students.

New York City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents part of the neighborhood, said that parents had long yearned for a high school that gave District 3 students priority during the admissions process, particularly given the bounty of high-performing schools in nearby District 2 that give priority to their own students.

"It's been a constant request," said Rosenthal.

However, Education Department policy called for new high schools to be open to students citywide, said Rosenthal. So she said community members found an alternate way to "thread the needle." The new school will offer priority to incoming middle school students from District 3 who, as existing students, will have priority in the high school admissions process.

The school is expected to be listed in the middle school directory this fall.

The new school will open in the building now occupied by Beacon High School on West 61st Street which is moving to a new, larger building on West 43rd Street. Department of Education officials said the school likely will not require approval from the Panel for Educational Policy because it will be opening in an empty school building. Other than that, many details have yet to be settled.

"There is an immediate timeline for the community and the D.O.E. to develop the structure of the school, what the mission will be, who the principal is, what the guiding philosophy of the school will be," said Rosenthal.