Board Votes On School Closures

Mar 5, 2014

The Columbus City Schools board voted unanimously last night to close four schools and relocate a fifth. 

Today, the work begins to integrate some 1,600  students into other schools -- and find an additional $40 million in cuts before the next school year. Alison Holm reports.

Supporters of Independence High School and Siebert Elementary are riding a wave of relief this morning, as the school closure axe passed them by.  But staff, students and their parents at Brookhaven High School, Monroe Middle School, Arlington and Maybury Elementaries, are waking up to the reality that their schools are closing or moving at the end of the school year.  Superintendent Dan Good says district officials are already planning the nuts and bolts of the transition.

Good:  We’ll be talking with city about additional sidewalks and lighting… those two populations. Brookhaven High School students will move to Mifflin High School.  Monroe Middle School, which is a 100% lottery school, will see its students reassigned to their neighborhood schools.  Arlington Park Elementary will be split between two different feeder patterns, with the bulk assigned to East Linden and a smaller number to South Mifflin. Maybury students will be split between Leawood, Oakmont or Liberty Elementaries, depending on where they live.  Students at the Fifth Avenue International School will face the least upheaval, as the program is relocating to a building just a few blacks away, in Victorian Village.  In many cases, students affected by the closures will be given preference in the district lottery, which begins later this month.  The moves will save the district an estimated 10 million dollars – 40 million short of the projected deficit next year.  Superintendent Good says the district is “turning over rocks” looking for other ways to cut costs, including re-examining the 5-year forecast. Good:  One of the last steps we’ll take is look at all those programs and services that exceed the state minimums.  Understand how many students can access all of those programs, what the impacts is, how much we scale that, and is it sustainable.  And most of those programs and services are supported by FTE, or Full Time Equivalent employee…. Difficult to tell at this point. Some board members would also like to see a re-evaluation of the districts assumptions.  Michael Cole, who was elected last November, says he’d like to see the board become more involved in the conversation about school closures before recommendations are made.  And he says he thinks a school’s academic performance must be added to the list of criteria considered for closure.  Board member Ramona Reyes, who has been thru several rounds of closure discussions, wants the board to step back reassess the impact closing schools has on feeder patterns to the districts 22 high schools.