Girl’s Prep Gets a New Home

East Side Community High SchoolRachel Ohm The building that houses East Side Community School on 11th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A will also become the new home of Girl’s Prep Middle School in the fall.

For the past year, Girl’s Prep, an all-girls charter school in the East Village has been in search of a new home for its growing middle school.

Last week, school officials received approval from the Department of Education to move into a space at the East Side Community School building on 11th Street and First Avenue. The middle school, which currently serves students in grades five and six only, will be able to re-locate in the fall and eventually expand to teach seventh and eighth graders.

“It’s such a relief to know we have a permanent, free public school space,” said Ian Rowe, the school’s interim principal. “Our parents have been through a roller coaster these last two years.”

Girl’s Prep is a kindergarten through sixth grade school that opened at 442 Houston Street in 2005 as an elementary school. Last year, when it expanded to grades five and six, the new middle school moved to a temporary location that it rented at 51 Astor Place. That building is set to be demolished later this year, after the charter’s lease expires June 30.

Until last week, parents and teachers were wondering what would become of the school.

April Conyer, 35, has been sending her daughter, now in sixth grade, to Girl’s Prep since the school opened. She said she was devastated when she learned the building at 51 Astor Place was going to be demolished.

“I’m one of those parents who was at all the meetings and went to City Hall,” she said. “At the same time I’m trying to raise a daughter and work to earn a living. I’m happy they finally found a place where they can be comfortable and learn.”

Ms. Conyer, who works at a nearby post office, said the new location will still be convenient for her and she can even stop by the new school during her lunch break, which is something she often does now at 51 Astor.

The news of the re-location comes not long after Kimberly Morcate was dismissed as principal of Girl’s Prep Middle School and the school’s scores on the annual city-wide progress reports fell to the 13th percentile from the 82nd percentile.

Parents are hopeful that the new environment will have positive academic results. Ms. Conyer said that in a recent meeting with the assistant principal of East Side, she and other parents were told that the school would do everything it could to accommodate the new students.

“They seemed favorable to having and accepting us,” she said. “That’s half the battle.”

East Side Community High School_2Rachel Ohm The principal of East Side, Mark Federman, said he is excited about the co-location arrangement but that the schools are only in the “beginning of beginning stages.”

Many schools that have co-location arrangements struggle to share resources such as gymnasiums, auditoriums and cafeterias. Yet Mr. Rowe said he is confident about the new relationship with East Side.

“I think we can create a model co-location relationship,” he said. “I know co-locations have been a challenge at other schools, but I am really excited about it.”

The principal of East Side, Mark Federman, said he is excited about the co-location arrangement but that the schools are only in the “beginning of beginning stages.”

Mr. Federman said that the schools have discussed creating a mentoring program that pairs high school students with middle schoolers.

The schools are still working out the details of the co-location arrangement, but there will be separate entrances and most day-to-day activities will be individual by school.

At 442 Houston Street, Girl’s Prep shares a building with P.S. 188 and P.S. 94M, a special education school.

Tracy Garay, 33, the mother of a fifth grader at Girl’s Prep said that her daughter, who is in her first year at the school, has been successful at the charter school.

“There are smaller classrooms, more focus on learning and I feel the curriculum is advanced,” she said. “Wherever it” – the school – “goes, I’m going to follow them.”