The East Side of Manhattan is getting two new school buildings — and the city won't have to spend a cent on them. As part of a complicated deal with a private developer, the World-Wide Group, the Department of Education will open a massive, multi-use private development at 57th Street and 2nd Avenue that will include two schools, a Whole Foods, shops, and 320 residential units. Two schools will occupy the space, PS 59 and the High School for Art and Design, which is 1 million square feet and will open in 2012. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled the designs for the development this morning at PS 59's temporary home, a gleaming East Side building that was also renovated by the World-Wide Group last year. The arrangement will certainly be cheered in the community, since it means 830 new elementary school seats in the overcrowded District 2 region. It could also become a model for how to build school buildings at little cost to the city. The Department of Education negotiated the deal through the Educational Construction Fund, a finance mechanism that gives private developers access to tax-exempt bonds and city air rights if they commit to including schools in their developments. A Greenwich Village school planned for 2012 will follow a similar model. And also in District 2, another public-private partnership is paying for a new space for East Side Middle School in a 118-unit residential tower on East 91st Street. A crane at that site collapsed this spring, killing a construction worker. A sketch of the new development and a rendering of its facade, all designed by architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP, are below the jump.
Before there were "chronically absent" children, there were "truants." And truants were dealt with as criminals, with the city allocating funds to build detention centers for them even when it couldn't afford to build enough schools for all the city's children. Enter progressive education official Julia Richman, who in 1905 launched a kinder, gentler model of truant school. In a full-page profile of the school late in its first year, The New York Times called the Lower East Side school "one of the most important experiments in sociology ever undertaken by the New York Board of Education." Under the leadership of Principal Olive Jones, a woman whose "casual appearance [gave] no indication of her concentrated strength of character," boys enjoyed small classes, intensive counseling, group activities, and, most of all, fairness. Olive Jones on admitting a new student: