Queens Metro High School ready to open

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Queens Metropolitan High School Principal Marci Levy-Maguire said the outside of her school may not be something to look at, but she told Community Education Council 24 members last week she is thrilled with what is going on inside.

After a nearly two-decade battle to put a school at the site at 98-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, Queens Metropolitan HS was slated to open its doors Wednesday to a little more than 400 students, primarily from School Districts 24 and 28.

District 24 covers Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village and Corona. District 28 includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Jamaica and Kew Gardens.

“As soon as you get past the deep pit in the road outside, it is beautiful,” Levy-Maguire joked of the still rocky terrain outside the school due to construction. “But the school will be ready for students and teachers.”

Levy-Maguire attended CEC 24’s meeting Sept. 1 and said she is looking forward to working with the community during the upcoming school year.

“We’re excited about everything,” said Levy-Maguire, who was born in Forest Hills. “The biggest problem I have is people want to come because there are amazing facilities and our instructional philosophy. That’s a pretty good problem to have.”

CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni said while they are happy the high school is opening, he said he was not pleased that all the seats in the school were not saved specifically for locally zoned students.

The school will ultimately hold about 1,000 students in grades 9 through 12. There are about 350 freshman students who are entering the school this year. Any student from within the school zone in Districts 24 and 28 who put the high school as their first choice on their high school application form were guaranteed a seat, but Comaianni said the city was too quick to allow students from outside the districts to fill in seats not taken by zoned pupils.

For example, if a student from the zone opted to go to Stuyvesant HS in Manhattan instead of Metropolitan, the city then allowed anyone in the city to fill that vacant spot. Instead, Comaianni said, the city should have waited for locally zoned students to find out about the new school and apply.

“I said if we couldn’t fill the high school with locally zoned students, let’s increase the zone so it goes 15, 20 blocks further than the zone now,” Comaianni said. “We had a lot of parents who were just a couple blocks from the school come to us and say they want to go there but couldn’t get in. This was a locally zoned school that parents fought very, very hard for.”

State Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven), who Comaianni is challenging; Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills); and City Councilwomen Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) fought to ensure the high school was locally zoned.

The city Department of Education said in early February it was increasing the number of seats for incoming freshmen from 250 to 350, but the additional 100 seats were going to be open to anyone in Queens — a decision met with ire from local community members. Following meetings attended by city education officials and Hevesi, Miller, Koslowitz and Crowley, the city agreed to prioritize students from School Districts 24 and 28.

Glendale resident Stacy Argento, who lives a little outside the zone, said she has been fighting for her son to be able to go to Metropolitan HS and is disappointed the city will not let him into the school and has placed him in Martin Van Buren HS in Queens Village.

“His first choice was Metropolitan, but he didn’t get in, which makes no sense,” Argento said. “We did an appeal, and when I got a letter back, it said he could go to Martin Van Buren. He wants to go to Metropolitan because it’s close to us and looks like it’s going to be an awesome school.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 6:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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