Several attendance borders could be changed and a number of school buildings closed as a result of a recommendation by a citizen task force reporting to Columbus City Schools.
The task force has been meeting since April to study the raw data of where there are too many students and where there are not enough for it to make sense to keep maintaining aging buildings.
With the changes to population and demographics, an imbalance has occurred across the district.
“We heard about some schools that are at less than optimal capacity, maybe they’re only 50-60% filled; other schools are bursting at the seams,” said Pari Sabety, one of the co-chairs of the task force.
One example of what she is referring to is Dominion Middle School, which the district says is over capacity.
The task force wants to move the entire student body from Dominion to North High School and take the students from North High and move them into the former Brookhaven High School.
This would ultimately cause the Dominion building to close as it would no longer be needed.
The task force also wants to stop using Buckeye Middle School, Mifflin Middle School and Siebert Elementary School.
They plan to explain their reasons for each change at four community meetings next month and take public comment on the plan.
“We would want the members of the community to wrestle with the same issues that we had to wrestle with,” said Sabety. “I think at that point people will also understand better what the viewpoint of Columbus City Schools around what the future might be.”
Meanwhile, people living near Siebert Elementary were not happy to hear about the potential closure of the school.
“This seems like kind of a beacon of light in kind of a dark area for education here in the Columbus area and I would hate to see that close for financial reasons that may or may not work out in the long run,” said Norman Carmichael who lives nearby.
“When I watch the interaction between the administrators and the teachers and the parents and the kids in this school; it’s exactly what a school should be and it’s a good size for a school so it’s not to large that an individual child gets lost,” said Carmichael. “I would think it would be a damn shame if they closed this school and did anything else with the property and sent these kids somewhere else.”
According to Sabety, the task force looked at 21 criteria over three phases of decision making; diversity and burden are just two of the elements that were part of their examination in the final phase before their recommendation was drafted as they narrowed down how to make the needed adjustments.
Just because these recommendations are being put forward does not mean they will be acted on, or will not change and Sabety says depending on the community comments, they may have to adjust the plan.
“If there are issues that we have not appropriately approached we’re gonna have to adjust our approached based on that input and we will take it very seriously,” said Sabety.
Ultimately the final decision will be in the hands of the board of education. That decision may not come until sometime in November.
Many of the changes could take effect as soon as next school year.