Metro Schools to expand into former Indianola Middle School owned by Ohio State

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Photo by Tom Knox CBF–Ohio State plans to buy the former Indianola Middle School at 420 E. 19th Avenue

COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)– Metro Schools finally found an expansion site – bringing back to life the vacant Indianola Middle School that Ohio State University bought three years ago.

University trustees will be asked this week to approve a 30-year lease to the nonprofit STEM-focused charter district, sponsored by Ohio State and research giant Battelle.

In lieu of rent, Battelle and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission – pending that body’s approval – will split the $30 million renovation cost.

Opened in 1909 as the first junior high school in the country, the building has been vacant since 2010. Ohio State bought the historic building in 2018 for $2.35 million from Columbus City Schools and said it had no intent to “flip” the property to developers.

When the project is complete in 2024, Metro will move its middle and high schools to Indianola, which has a capacity of 1,200 students. The original school, 1929 Kenny Road near Ohio State’s west campus, will become its first elementary school, with a capacity of 970.

Metro Early College High School opened in 2006, focused on science, technology, engineering, and math. The district added a middle school starting with grade six in 2013. Enrollment is open to any student in Ohio, but about half come from Columbus City Schools. The district has wanted to expand to K-12 for several years.

Battelle announced plans to add a campus in 2018, but the pandemic slowed progress. CEO Lou Von Thaer recently told Business First it was close to finalizing the site.

“Through this partnership, many more students in Central Ohio will gain access to a quality STEM education that prepares them for success in their careers and in life,” Wes Hall, Battelle’s vice president of philanthropy and education, said in a statement in response to Business First.

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