Nearly a dozen new middle schools will open in the Bronx and Brooklyn next fall. New school applications are available now from elementary school guidance counselors in districts 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 23 and 32. Students who apply to a new school may get an offer from two schools -- one they applied to in the main round and a new school. They'll get both offers in the same letter and then will be able to choose, enrollment officials said. That letter will come out some time in May.
A list and description of the new middle schools is on the Department of Education's website. A few, like PS/IS 5 in the Bronx, PS/IS 8 in Brooklyn Heights and Community Roots Charter School in Fort Greene, are successful elementary schools which are expanding to include middle school grades. Those will be good options, which will give priority to continuing students. The Urban Assembly Unison School in Clinton Hill and Young Women's Leadership in the Bronx, are created by organizations that have effectively run other schools and are good bets as well.
Other schools are virtually "replacement schools," moving into buildings where previous middle schools have failed and are being closed by the DOE.
Applications for new middle schools are due March 26.
Open houses and info sessions (more will be added as we get them):
Community Roots Charter School: March 28, 8:45 a.m. 51 Saint Edwards Street, Brooklyn
PS/MS 8: March 22, 6:30 p.m. & Saturday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m. PS 8 auditorium, Brooklyn
Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx: March 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Eagle Academy & March 27, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 4143 Third Avenue, Bronx
Urban Assembly Unison School: Wednesday, March 21, 6 p.m. at 170 Gates Ave, Brooklyn
Here's a rundown of the new schools.
Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx: This all girl's middle school promises a curriculum rich in math, science, technology and engineering basics and might be a great option for incoming 6th-graders who meet the selective admissions criteria. Many YWL schools have a terrific track record in college acceptances. UWL in the Bronx will be housed in a District 9 middle school building, IS 117, but it is open to all Bronx residents. See the school's website for more information and how to apply.
PS 5, an orderly school with a longtime, well-respected principal where every child gets a laptop computer, is accepting sixth-graders for fall 2012. Continuing 5th-graders get priority in admissions.
Blueprint Middle School, IS 562 will share the JHS 125 Henry Hudson building to give zoned students a choice between the two schools. Pending city approval, JHS 125 would shrink from its current size of 632 students to about 330 and Blueprint Middle School would grow to about 330 students. Blueprint, as its name indicates, promises a focus on technology. Priority in admissions goes to students in the JHS 125 zone, but other District 8 students may apply. More information about the plan for the two schools is on the DOE's website.
Bronx Works is the latest in a series of small middle schools to open in the IS 135 building. Aspire Academy is phasing out because of poor performance. Bronx Green and the Pelham Academy, also in the building, will remain open. Bronx Works promises classroom projects, introductions to careers and trips around the city.
Pelham Gardens Middle School, pending city approval, will share the building with a MS 144. The DOE is planning to reduce enrollment at MS 144, a large middle school, in an effort to improve performance. Students would have a choice of applying to either school. Pelham Gardens plans to have a focus on digital media and the latest technology.
There are three good options for District 13, a district which has had a dearth of successful middle schools.
PS/IS 8 Parents at this sought-after elementary school in Brooklyn Heights long wished it would continue through middle school, but there was no space in the cramped building. The DOE found room at a nearby high school, George Westinghouse and PS 8 is opening a 6th grade in 2012 with the same principal. Priority will go to current PS 8 5th-graders. The school's guidance counselor estimates there may be about 20 openings for non-PS 8 students. The curriculum will be one of explorations, similar to that of MS 447 in District 15, she said.
Urban Assembly Unison School is 6-8 school created by the new school developer at the Urban Assembly, a nonprofit which has opened more than a dozen schools over the last decade. School leader Jennifer Ostrow will be working closely with an NYU professor who developed a structured, yet hands-on, method of teaching reading called "unison reading." Incoming students and their parents are invited to participate in an introductory overnight trip in the summer.
Community Roots Charter School, after being unable to expand as hoped last year, will this year open its middle school at PS 287. There will be two classes in the sixth grade, with priority going to the 50 current 5th-graders. The school does not know yet how many openings there will be for new students. A lottery for the open seats will be held in April.
Madiba Prep will open in the PS 26 building in Bedford Stuyvesant with a theme of science, math, technology and engineering. The building is also shared with FDA IV, a secondary school whose middle school grades are being phased out, leaving room for Madiba Prep.
New Heights Middle School will essentially be a replacement school for MS 587 Middle School of the Arts, which will be closed by 2014 for poor performance. The school will offer lots of individual attention to students, an advisory program, online learning and field trips. Priority goes to zoned students then to those who attend an information session.
Spring Creek Community School will open in a new building at 1065 Elton Street, as an option for all District 19 students. With a humanities focus, arts and technology will be incorporated into all classes. Priority goes to students who attend an information session. The school leader is Christina Koza.
Brownsville Collaborative Middle School. Opening in the PS 298 building, Brownsville Collaborative will offer a performing arts and media arts focus. The middle school at PS 298, which has very low test scores and attendance, will be closed by 2014. The new school will offer seats to about 85 6th-graders. It is open to all District 23 students with priority to those who attend an information session.
The Evergreen Middle School for Urban Exploration will open in the IS 296 building. That school is being closed after years of failing test scores and low attendance. Evergreen will offer field work, experiments, and group projects and exploration of the city. It is a zoned school, but all District 32 students may apply. There will be bilingual, Spanish-English instruction for those who need it.