After twelve years leasing space at Manhattan College in Riverdale, the Jonas Bronck Academy has finally landed a space of its own, in the new office tower Fordham Place, on the corner of Webster Ave and Fordham Road.
The school, which Principal Donalda Chumney calls "a college-preparatory middle school," now occupies the newly renovated fourth and fifth floors of the tower (just a few floors down from the new district office of State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, who fought off the whole Democratic caucus for the right to set up shop at this address).
The new space has allowed the small middle school to add two more classes and plenty of new programs, including music, art and Spanish classes. There's a cafeteria, a gym, a library and a state of the art science lab, as well as a brand-new parent resource center with computers parents can use anytime.
"We are very, very, very blessed," said Chumney.
Not everyone is thrilled with the new space. Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez used Jonas Bronck as an example of everything that's shady in Mayor Bloomberg's claim that the city has added a record number of new school buildings and seats in the last two years. Gonzalez called the space "a few floors of rented space at an old office complex on Fordham Road," and complains that "the DOE has agreed to pay Acadia Partners, the building's owners, nearly $40 million for a 20-year lease on the space, plus an additional $11.5 million for renovations."
The new space looks pretty spiffy to us. What do you think? Worth the price tag?
Photos: Principal Donalda Chumney with 7th Graders at Jonas Bronck Academy, Adelaide, 12, Edison, 12, Miranda, 11, Besnik, 11, and Princess, 12.; The new cafeteria; and the new parent resource center.