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Dept. of Ed plans to buy Middle College building

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After the owner of the building that has housed Long Island City’s Middle College High School for decades declined to renew the school’s lease, the city Department of Education is laying the groundwork to purchase the property.

Community Board 2 was scheduled to hear an application by the city School Construction Authority Thursday regarding the acquisition of the 44,700−s­quare−foot building at Van Dam Street and 47th Avenue right across the street from LaGuardia Community College.

Middle College High School combines its high school curriculum with City University of New York courses at LaGuardia and allows some students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree. It was the model for several charter high schools at CUNY colleges throughout the five boroughs.

CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley said the board is enthusiastic about the application.

“The partnership they have with LaGuardia College has always been a positive one,” he said. “It’s good that they moved forward to get a permanent solution. We’ve reviewed it and I believe the board will vote in favor of it.”

But DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the agency is still negotiating with the property owner and did not go into details on what the application signified.

“It’s just one of the options,” she said. “Either renewing the lease or purchasing the building.”

City Finance Department records show the building’s market value for the upcoming year was assessed at nearly $6 million.

Rick Viteri, president of Middle College High School’s parent−teacher association, was not aware of the DOE’s application Tuesday morning.

“That would be fantastic,” he said. “Middle College High School has to be close to LaGuardia. It has great potential for the students to not only finish high school but to achieve going to college.”

Ted Killmer, a spokesman for the Middle College National Consortium, a Long Island City−based nonprofit that sponsors charter high schools based on the Middle College High School model throughout the nation, has said the DOE was considering moving the school to the former location of St. Patrick’s School about a mile away.

“My understanding is that taking the [current] building for the purpose of keeping Middle College High School there is how they’re moving forward,” he said. “In that case, that means that a successful project of many, many years is going to continue.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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