A plan to renovate several Columbus City School buildings, and streamline the language program feeder plan is on hold again, amid questions over the price tag and where the money will come from.
Alison Holm reports.
The decision to renovate Brookhaven and North High Schools and Dominion Middle School as part of a six-school reorganization plan is on hold, after district officials revealed the price tag of $29.8 million dollars. Treasurer Stan Bahorek told board members the money could be found in the district’s general fund without affecting operations, but some were skeptical, and called for a special meeting to review the costs and the resources. Construction is usually paid for out of operating funds approved by voters.
The decision to move ahead with the plan was hastily approved in February, in an effort to reassure parents of language program students ahead of the school lottery process. There was no cost estimate at the time. And while there is now a price tag, there is no clear break down of how the nearly $30 million will be spent. Board member Shawna Gibbs says there needs to be more transparency.
“We understand that that was a very heavy list, and it was a very long process, but I definitely don’t want to get to this point and rush it, and try to do it fast and not do it right.”
The renovations to the three schools were among the proposals made by the Facilties Task Force last summer, after seven months of investigation and public hearings. Those proposals were abruptly shelved by a divided board in November. Board member Eric Brown, who objected to that decision at the time, says he doesn’t see the need for delay now.
“I’m concerned a little bit about what I’m hearing. I’m very comfortable with the decisions that we’ve made. I’m very comfortable that we’ve had the information necessary to make all of those decisions, and I think that we need to proceed with that. I think in large part the decisions were unnecessarily delayed from August, September, until January.”
Board president Gary Baker says there are too many issues involved in the renovation process to unfold in a regular board meeting. The special meeting has not been scheduled.