Foreclosures during the Great Recession added to thousands of blighted properties in Columbus. But, a state program helped fund demolition of many of those houses and apartment units.
Columbus School Board Faces Decision On Building Closures.
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The Columbus Board of Education today hears first hand a recommendation to close more schools. An advisory committee voted unanimously to shutter four elementaries and five middle school schools before the start of next school year. WOSU’s Debbie Holmes reports. “I think we’ve told them before that there is with the community meetings, come to the community meetings, this is about student assignments ” Columbus schools superintendent, Gene Harris, met with the members of the external advisory committee as it reviewed frequently asked questions about the proposed school closings. Parents, teachers, and students had attended several community meetings recently. They wanted to know about transportation to new schools, special school programs and the future of closed school buildings. During the meeting, Harris was presented with a stack of petitions from concerned citizens in support of the literature-based alternative at Hubbard school. “I would invite them to look at some of our other schools that are doing well that are providing a great opportunity for our students.” Says Harris.
After an hour-long discussion, the nine-member committee voted unanimously to recommend that all nine schools, four elementary and five middle schools on the list be closed and the student re-assignments go forward. Member, and president of the Columbus Education Association, Rhonda Johnson says the vote was not easy. “A promise was made to the taxpayers that six schools would close so that the levy would last four years, but it’s a really sad day in Columbus city schools anytime there are school closings, because it effects students, it effects families, and it effects the teachers I represent.” Says Johnson. Committee co-chair, Floyd Jones says he understands the disappointment for those who love their schools. “But we also have to look at the larger issues about what is best for the district and what is best for our children going forward.” Says Jones. The district is expected to save more than $8,000,000 a year from the closings. Jones will present the committee’s recommendations to the school board at tonight’s meeting. A final decision is expected December 15th.
Debbie Holmes WOSU News.