The BroadsheetDAILY ~ News of Lower Manhattan ~ 1/23/20 –

Posted By on January 23, 2020

Asking for the Millennium

City Announces Agreement to Expand FiDis Millennium High School

City Council member Margaret Chin (center), Community Board 1s Youth and Education chair Tricia Joyce (center left) and Millennium High School principal Colin McEvoy (right) look on as the Citys Schools Chancellor, Richard Carranza, announces that the school will expand to an additional floor (now under construction).

On January 15, jubilant elected officials, community leaders, and education officials toured the new space into which the Financial Districts Millennium High School (MHS) will expand over the next two years. This was the culmination of a multi-year campaign to win approval and funding for the schools growth.

Founded as part of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Millennium (which opened in 2003) occupies three floors (the 11th, 12th, and 13th stories) within 75 Broad Street, a 1928 skyscraper originally built as the headquarters of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT). But the school quickly became a victim of its own success, attracting high-performing students along with top-flight faculty and staff, which led to a flood of applications and severe overcrowding.

In the years since, various plans were floated to expand MHS. In 2010, the City tried to lease the 34th floor within 75 Broad Street, but fire safety officials could not devise a plan that would reliably evacuate hundreds of students quickly in an emergency. In 2011, the City, leased a much larger space nearby, at 26 Broadway, and Millennium lobbied to move into that facility. But the Department of Education (DOE) decided instead to give the space to the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching, which was transplanted from the Upper East Side.

The most recent plan contained an element of serendipity: The owner of 75 Broad Street, JEMB Realty, announced two years ago that the floor directly above MHS had become available, and asked whether the school would be interested in expanding.

This triggered a massive lobbying effort by City Council member Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, and Community Board 1 (CB1) member Tricia Joyce, who chairs that panels Youth and Education Committee, among others.

In the face of this campaign, officials at the DOE and the Citys School Construction Authority scrambled to come up with funding for both the annual rent and the cost of retrofitting the former office space as a school. In mid-2019, they provisionally agreed to try to negotiate a lease. These discussions were successfully concluded before the close of the year, and construction work to convert the space into classrooms recently began. But even with a signed lease, more than two years will be needed before the space is ready for students. The new facility is expected to open in the fall of 2022.

At the January 15 walk-through, Ms. Chin said, when we heard that this beautiful space was available, we were all excited. It took a long time, but this shows what we can do by working together: the principal, the Community Board, the Parents Association.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, its marvelous to see this wonderful space coming to fruition, because we have been working on it for a while. This is a great school, a school that students want to attend. This is an example of the kind of institution we want: one that is desired and has great faculty and great families.

The former headquarters of International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation, at 75 Broad Street, now houses the highly regarded Millennium High School in its 11th, 12th, and 13th floors. The school is now slated to expand and take over the 14th story of the building as well.

The Citys Schools Chancellor, Richard Carranza said, Margaret Chin has been an incredible advocate. And our incredible principal, Colin McEvoy, has utilized every square inch of space he had available. But were going to give him another 25,000 square feet to play with. So get out of his way.

Mr. Carranza noted with pride that, this is a school that has a 100 percent graduation rate. This is what we want for all of our students. He was referring to the fact that one-quarter of New York City public high school students are unable to graduate within four years (a significant subset of these never earn a diploma), while 40 percent of those who do graduate do not enroll in college. MHS not only graduates all of its students, but sends all of them to college with many of these being accepted at highly selective universities.

What Council member Chin and I saw as we toured an environmental classroom was students interpreting data, actively engaged with data, Mr. Carranza continued. When we asked questions about their sources, they were able to authenticate them. They knew what they were talking about. This is whats happening right here, at Millennium.

But we also saw that these students need more space, he added. So were proud to announce that MHS will grow by an additional 25,000 square feet. And that doesnt count the additional square feet that Principal McEvoy will now be able to repurpose.

Mr. McEvoy said, the new space will be transformative, not only in terms of what we can do on the 14th floor, but on the new uses we can bring to the existing three floors. He added words of thanks for the co-presidents of the MHS Parents Association, Lisa Wong and Marilyn Francescon. Then, his voice catching, he continued, if Im emotional, its because Im thinking about all the work that has gone into this, and what it will mean for out students.

Joseph L. Jerome, president of JEMB Realty, said with pride, this school was ground-breaking when we did this 18 years ago it was one of the first times that the City put a school within an office building. About the expansion, he added, thanks go to Margaret Chin, who has championed this effort.

Ms. Joyce observed, this is a gem of a school that arose from the ashes of September 11. It was funded, in part, by CB1, which helped raise $14 million to open Millennium. And in part by Bill and Melinda Gates, and funds from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

So many people came together to make this school happen, she added. Over these very short 18 years, it has turned into one of the most sought-after schools, which now receives more than 6,000 applications each year for just 170 seats, which is a real testament to this school and its leadership.

Its not easy to add space without enrollment, she noted, in a reference to the Department of Educations policy that an expanded school must accept more students. But, in a reference to the fact that the DOE has agreed to hold off on this requirement (at least for the time being), she added, we know the hoops that everybody had to jump through. Its a great thing to see City agencies come together to put the school first.

In response to a question about the possibility of being required to expand the schools student body once the new space is open, Mr. McEvoy said, we are going to first prioritize serving students who are already here. We are currently serving 675 students in a space designed for 525. We are using hallway space, and space originally designed for lounges, as instructional space. The first space to come online will be new classrooms, to make sure our students have an appropriate learning environment. Once thats in place, we can look at evaluating how many additional students, if any, we can serve. But we first want to address the overcrowding. Thats going to make a profound change for students and staff.

Senator Kavanagh said, afterward the walkthrough, Millennium High Schools long-awaited expansion is a laudable development that will increase opportunities for students.

The additional space within 75 Broadway will allow MHS to add five new classrooms, and 5,000 square feet of physical education space, as well as a new staircase connecting all the facilitys floors. The funding for the expansion will also provide for a modernization of the schools security camera system. One issue that remains to be resolved is elevator capacity. The crowding conditions at MHS often result in students waiting up to 30 minutes for space in an elevator to take them into or out of the school. In a 2018, resolution endorsing the proposed expansion, CB1 requested that, at least one, but preferably two additional elevators, dedicated for the school, be made available along with the expansion.

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The BroadsheetDAILY ~ News of Lower Manhattan ~ 1/23/20 -

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