A facilities advisory board is recommending a broad reorganization for Columbus City Schools. Some residents on the far South Side are wary of the change.
The recommendations would close some schools, convert others and shuffle students among different facilities. Attendance boundaries would change, and so would some feeder patterns—the progression of elementary and middle schools that send students to a given high school.
The district will host four public hearings to discuss the proposal, on September 10, 11, 13 and 20. The locations of those meetings are still in the works.
The plan would:
- adjust attendance boundaries in the Hilltop for Highland, West Broad and Westgate Elementary schools.
- adjust attendance boundaries in Linden for Maize and North Linden Elementary schools.
- move Columbus North International School to the former Brookhaven High School, sharing space with Columbus Global Academy.
- convert Marion Franklin High School to a middle school, shift existing students to South High School, and alter the South High feeder pattern.
- close Buckeye Middle School, and send students to the new Marion Franklin Middle School.
- close Siebert Elementary, moving students to Stewart and Southwood Elementary schools.
Also, beginning in the 2020 school year, Columbus Schools would:
- move Dominion Middle School to the North High School site and expand language immersion programs, folding Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy, Ecole Kenwood French Immersion, and Hubbard Mastery into the school.
- convert Linden-McKinley STEM Academy to a middle school only.
- close Mifflin Middle School, sending students to Medina Middle School and moving ESL units from both schools elsewhere.
Candy Dexter graduated from Marion Franklin High School and still lives nearby. She drove school buses for almost 30 years, and worries school rivalries might make a rough transition.
“That would not be good, they’ve been rivals for, I don’t know, probably 50 years, and that’s going to be problems," Dexter says. "I mean you can’t put two that don’t get a long in the same building.”
"I just hate to see the school close, or not close, but y'know, change," she continues. "Because people that live around here their families graduated from there, just like me. I graduated from there, and both my kids graduated from there."
One of her neighbors, Iesha Campbell, is concerned about students having to travel further to get to school. She says her kids already have a long walk to their elementary school.
Campbell also worries the kids sent to South High might miss out on extracurricular activities.
“Like as far as sports, all these schools have like built a rapport as far as football,” she says. “There’s Marion Franklin football team, there’s Eastmoor football team. You can’t just combine their football teams like that.”
Richard Wirth has misgivings as well, but says sometimes demographics shift, and maybe a middle school makes more sense.
“Well, I think they know more of what the demographics of their neighborhoods are than I do, but my bottom thought is I want to see kids get a good education no matter where they go,” Wirth says. “So, if this, Marion Franklin is better suited to be a middle school, then I hope they do more than just one study on it.”
In addition to the public hearings on the plan, Columbus City school officials are accepting feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.