Proposed Dual-Language High School on the UWS Wins Community Board Support


The Joan of Arc building at 154 West 93rd Street.

By Alex Israel

Félicitations are in order for Lafayette Academy, a public middle school currently serving grades 6-8, which received initial approval to move ahead with expanding to a 6-12 middle and high school, and to become certified to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

The school, located in the Joan of Arc building at 154 West 93rd Street, currently offers a French-English dual-language curriculum that allows students to learn skills and academic subjects like math, science, and history in both languages.

The IB, a certification developed by a Swiss non-profit, would aim to prepare students for life beyond school through an “innovative, international approach” that teaches them to “think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic,” according to its website.

Lafayette Academy Principal Brian Zager advocated on behalf of the school’s expansion during Community Board 7’s February full board meeting on Tuesday.

“In my school it’s not a French 101 class,” Zager explained, asserting that more than 50 percent of students read, write, and speak fluent French. But because of the limited dual-language high school curricula throughout the city, students “have no place to go” to continue that education beyond middle school, he said.

Expanding Lafayette Academy would create another high school within New York City School District 3—the first public dual-language high school program on the Upper West Side—and would give preference to continuing District 3 middle school students, Zager said.

The IB program would “open up a world of jobs” that might previously have only been offered to those who attended expensive private schools, he added. “We’re opening this world up to kids that didn’t think that international jobs … were even possible.”

After a brief discussion, Community Board 7 passed a resolution in support of the plan, calling on the Department of Education and elected officials to provide additional classroom space and the funding Zager said would be necessary to achieve both the expansion and IB certification.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. AndyUWS says:

      This school is already crazy crowded with a large (and great) K-8 (MSC) and too other Middle Schools. There’s already not much of a school year so where in the world are they going to put a HIGH SCHOOL?

      • Kate says:

        This is my question as well. Also, given that there is a K-8 school in the building, do we really think it is a good idea to put high school students there?

        Right now there is a small middle school on floors 1 & 2, MSC on floors 3-6 (the middle school for MSC is on floor six) and another middle school on floors 7 & 8. I just don’t understand the logistics.

      • B says:

        1) The small Middle school on floors 1&2 is Lafayette Academy.

        2) MSC isn’t that great. It’s also a safety hazard.

        3) They are looking for a new building that would be able to house a middle school and hs.

      • Antonio V. says:

        You are correct on one point. The building definitely has a large K-8 school. MSC is large but endless complaints from parents clearly show that it’s far from a “great” school.

    2. ChrisW92 says:

      This building has been under heavy construction for *years* (it hasn’t looked like that photo in a very long time–under scaffolding since 2016), driving nearby neighbors crazy with nighttime construction noise and lights. Of much more interest to those of us nearby than what is *inside* the building is when will it ever end???

      • @davidaron60 says:

        The start of school year 2021, according to a construction foreman I spoke to…but that was before the recent work stop that lasted at least a few months.

        • ChrisW92 says:

          Thanks for that. Yeah, I was recently told something similar (though he seemed far from confident), so at least they are somewhat consistent…

    3. B-ri on the block says:

      This photo is a joke— you make it look like the tower of learning when it’s actually the scaffolding of doom. Hasn’t looked looked like that since 2015, before the scaffolding went up and the construction that goes to 1am. Ohhh, I’m so angry!