After six months of deliberations and seven public forums, the Columbus City Schools' task force on facilties voted on a final slate of recomendations on school closures and reconfiguration.
Alison Holm has more.
The recommendations approved by the Facilities Task Force Monday night will affect 29 schools and 10 administrative buildings. If approved by the school board next month, four schools will close, three high schools will be altered, and one high school will be expanded. Task Force co-chair Pari Sabety says some of the recommendations were revised over the course of seven public forums.
“We took every single alternative that was brought forward in any community meeting. We gave it an airing, we looked at the fact; we determined whether that was an appropriate way to meet our goal. Which was how do we improve academic outcomes, and optimize the facilities to achieve those outcomes.”
With six task force members absent, the remaining 13 narrowly rejected a proposal that would close Marion-Franklin High School, and approved a recommendation to create separate 6 through 8th grade middle schools within Marion-Franklin and South High Schools. By the same narrow margin, the task force approved a plan for the east side that preserves East High School and turns Linden-McKinley STEM Academy into a 6 through 8th grade middle school, including sixth-graders from Medina, Hamilton, Linden, South Mifflin Middle Schools.
Task Force member Stephen Hardwick voted to close both Linden-McKinley and Marion-Franklin, because he believes the larger high schools will provide more opportunities.
“The administration gave us figures for elective opportunities at the various public schools, and the larger public schools have twice or more than twice the number of elective opportunities than the kids at Linden-McKinley and East, and very close to that at South and Marion Franklin.”
The recommendations will close four schools: Siebert Elementary and Mifflin, Buckeye, and Dominion Middle Schools. The task force is recommending boundary changes for Highland, West Broad and Westgate Elementary schools, as well as Maize and North Linden Elementary. They approved closing several sites, including the Morse Road bus compand, Beery/Marion-Franklin Opportunity Center and Adult Education at Lexington Avenue, and relocated some services, like the Linmoor Education Center, 17th Avenue facility, and the Hudson Distribution Center. And unanimously recommended further study on closing and possibly selling off sites like the Kingswood Data Center and the downtown State Street district head quarters.
The school board is scheduled to vote on the recommendations in November. If approved, changes would take effect at the end of this school year for all buildings except for Linden-McKinley Middle School, which would make the change from a high school to middle school the following year.