Binns is back



Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy

The newly completed Binns Elementary School will open it’s doors to students and staff with the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. 

The culmination of planning, construction and anticipation will come to fruition this school year for Binns Elementary School students and staff.

After nearly four years of planning, the Columbus City School district opened the new elementary school building over the summer, according to Michael Straughter of the district’s communications office.

The project, which included the design and construction of the building, cost $10.1 million. The state of Ohio, through the Ohio School Facilities Commission, funded one-third of the funding, and the rest came from taxpayer dollars.

The 46,006 square-foot building, as designed, accommodates 368 K-5 students with 25 students per classroom, according to Straughter. The building also includes space for support staff that are not at the building full-time.

Beginning in 2004, a planning committee, composed of teachers, students, parents and community members began working with the architects on the school design. Construction was projected to be completed near the end of 2007, for a December 2007 move-in, according to Straughter.

That didn’t happen, due to minor design and construction changes.

“While design and construction schedules tend to be very fluid, there have been no major changes to the construction schedule for Binns since the work started,” Straughter said, “although changes to the design of the project were made to accommodate the schedule for the city’s reconstruction of Briggs Road and in response to request from the neighborhood.”

Officials then intended for Binns Elementary occupants to move in last spring. The opening was again delayed.

“While the district has scheduled move-ins over spring break, this past year spring break occurred just prior to state testing, and a decision was made to move into the building over the summer rather than go through this level of disruption just prior to testing,” Straughter said.

Binns Elementary students and staff had been reassigned to the Stockbridge Elementary School building on the south side when construction began.

Stockbridge, which closed in 2006, is now a “swing space building,” in order to keep school populations together, and only housed the Binns students and staff during construction, according to Straughter.

The decision to replace the building was based on an assessment conducted in 2001, which concluded that the cost to renovate Binns was 82.86 percent of the cost of new construction. The Ohio School Facilities Commission determines the need for replacement or renovation of a facility based on assessment results, according to Straughter. If the cost to renovate the building exceeds two-thirds, or 66 percent of the cost of new construction, the OSFC recommends the building be replaced.

Other factors that tied into the decision to replace the building included lack of space, no ADA accessibilities, no air conditioning, inadequate fire and security systems, as well as infrastructure issues.

The new school will have two classrooms specifically designed just for kindergarten classes, and will have 13 regular classrooms, three special needs classrooms and several dedicated rooms for programs such as art and music.

Newly constructed buildings in the district are going green, as they are being built with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, according to Straughter.

Binns will also offer updated technology, such as computers, audio-visual technology systems, as well as a media center with a computer lab adjacent to it for classes in computer technology.

The new building will also feature a room that has become common in other new buildings district-wide.

“A special feature of Columbus City School buildings is a tutor room adjacent or close to every classroom, allowing students to receive special individualized services without leaving the comfort of their classroom setting,” Straughter said.

At recess, students will go to separate playgrounds, based on their age, Straughter said.

Not only will students and staff have use of the building, but when school is not in session, community members can use the building.

Binns Elementary School’s project is part of a 34-school, $520 million construction and renovation program, one of the largest-scale construction programs in Central Ohio.

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