New P.S. 191 opens its doors

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School will serve 700 students from pre-K to eighth grade


Upper West Side students, educators and local officials gathered last week for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new school building on West 61st Street. Now known as the Riverside School for Makers and Artists, P.S. 191 will welcome students this week on the first day of school in a brand new facility a half-block away from its former location.

The Riverside School for Makers and Artists occupies a portion of a new residential tower at West End Avenue and 61st Street that is part of the five-building Riverside Center development. The 122,000-square-foot school is fully air-conditioned and has space for nearly 700 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Arts and the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — will be cornerstones of the new curriculum at P.S. 191, which has formed educational partnerships with Lincoln Center and nonprofits focusing on arts and STEM learning. Along with science labs, the building also features a gymnasium, rooftop recreational spaces and a library.

“This new building is an important investment in the District 3 community and will transform the way students learn by providing access to state-of-the-art music and art rooms, a science lab and a new library,” New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.

The re-siting of P.S. 191 is one result of a controversial rezoning plan approved by the District 3 Community Education Council in November. P.S. 191’s former location at 210 West 61st St. will become the new home of P.S. 452, which moves nearly a mile south from its previous location on West 77th Street.

Lingering tensions over the rezoning process — which opponents have claimed lacked inclusivity and failed to adequately address racial segregation in the district’s schools, among other criticisms — have become a campaign issue in Upper West Side City Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s bid to win election to a second term. Supporters say that the rezoning will alleviate overcrowding and increase economic and racial diversity in the neighborhood’s schools. Rosenthal, who supported the rezoning, called the opening of the new P.S. 191 building “a historic moment – an important step on the path to ensuring our local schools reflect the wonderful diversity of our community.”

Rosenthal has faced criticism over her handling of the rezoning plan from Cary Goodman and Mel Wymore, the two Democrats challenging her in the Sept. 12 primary election.

Sept. 7 is the first day of class for students in New York City public schools.

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