Despite Protests, UWS School Will Relocate to East Harlem

edward a reynolds west side high school

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Following protests and a seven hour hearing which stretched to 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, New York City’s Panel of Educational Policy has approved a controversial school swap that’s caused an uproar on the Upper West Side.


The original proposal outlined a plan to exchange Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School (located at 140 West 102nd Street) with The Young Women’s Leadership School, a billionaire-backed institution housed in an office building at 105 East 106th Street. West Side High, a well-regarded transfer school, is celebrated by current students and alumni alike — many of whom feel it was necessary to get back on track (transfer schools are designed to help students behind on credits for a slew of reasons). In recent years, enrollment has decreased by 57% — while TYWLS has allegedly doubled in size.

The vote was far from unanimous, with 12 in favor of the switch and nine against (one abstained, while another was absent), PIX11 News reported. Students from each establishment spoke, sharing stories of how the change would impact their daily commutes, families and safety (the potential of gang violence due to crosstown dynamics was also raised). The accessibility to education West Side High has created for underserved communities was a key factor in arguments opposed to the change.

Advocates who hoped to avoid the school swap include UWS council member Gale Brewer (who submitted a formal request to defer the proposal for one year in hopes of drumming up enrollment), Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “I fully understand that these proposals would allow for both schools to utilize buildings that better align with the current and projected size of their student bodies,” Levine wrote. “However, I believe that these proposed re-sitings, in their current form, are not in the best interests of the student bodies of both schools, due to the failure to align with the real needs of these students.”


Additionally, according to folk hoping to keep the current campus intact, the East Harlem space will not suffice in terms of facilities and services. For starters, West Side High (which was designed in the 1980s to serve its needs) has an ample gymnasium, a kitchen to accommodate cooking classes, an onsite health clinic and a childcare center — the latter being most important, as numerous students have young children.

The swap is scheduled to take place ahead of the upcoming school year.


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