CCS introduces master plan

Columbus City School district’s Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) project has gained full force again, thanks to voters approving a bond issue on November’s ballot.

Columbus schools facilities executive Carole Olshavsky introduced the 2008 bond issue facilities master plan for the district at a board meeting Dec. 2.

The master plan involves the renovation or construction of 11 buildings in the district, according to Olshavsky, by August 2012.

"The time line is pretty aggressive, but I’m pretty committed to it," Olshavsky said.

In November, voters approved a $164 million, 1.13-mill bond issue, which will assist in funding the plan in combination with 30 percent matching funds from the OSFC.

Through OSFC, the district has already completed two phases of the master plan, which involved renovation and construction of 34 schools.

The facilities master plan is divided into six individual planning areas, all categorized by area in Columbus. The first plan would begin at Clinton Elementary School in northeast Columbus, with a renovation and addition constructed to hold 400 students in grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

Linden McKinley would receive a face lift for 1,000 students in grades seven through 12. The face lift would include a renovation of the auditorium and upgrade of athletic fields, which would have to be funded through local funds. This project, according to Olshavsky, would be "fast-tracked" with multiple bid packages in order to get work finished by fall of 2011.

Language immersion programs would receive a new home as the plan includes the consolidation of French immersion and Spanish immersion programs in one location, with a possible third language expansion. A chosen district-owned building would receive renovations and additions for an estimated 900 students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

According to Superintendent Gene Harris, the district may consider adding the Mandarin language, though no final decision has been made.

"By operating the programs at one site, we have hopes that the students are deeply immersed in one language and exposed to two others," Harris said.

Out east, Liberty Elementary School would become a new building on an existing site for 550 pre-kindergarten to fifth grade students. This particular school, according to Olshavsky, has overcrowding issues and is a priority. It could possibly share a site with Independence High School, but logistics will have to be evaluated.

Olde Orchard Alternative Elementary School also has a large population and would receive renovations and additions for 550 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students.

Alum Crest and Clearbrook populations in the southern part of the district would be combined into a new building for 250 special needs children in grades six through 12. The new building would be constructed on existing district property, and the district would require special funding approval from OSFC for larger building plans to accommodate special needs programs.

Cedarwood Alternative Elementary School students would also move into a new building on an existing site, accommodating 550 pre-kindergarten to fifth grade students. This particular school could gain more enrollment from several new developments to the south and west.

Starling Middle School students on the Westside would move into a new building accommodating 600 students on a new 11-acre site acquired from the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. The standing historic Starling Middle School would be used as "swing space," for Westside schools in future projects.

Plans for Georgian Heights Alternative Elementary School include the construction of a new building on an existing site, to house 550 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. The district has marked this school as a potential to gain enrollment with new developments in the area.

Board members discussed the facilities master plan. Board member Stephanie Groce asked about the plans on closing buildings, as promised by the district before voters passed the combined levy and bond in November.

The district vowed to make more than $15 million in cuts each year until 2012, as well as closing six buildings due to low enrollment and reducing staff accordingly, in order to show fiscal responsibility.

Harris pointed out that the building closings are based on enrollment and will be done over the next four years.

Community meetings

The district will host a series of community meetings in December and January to give out information and receive feedback from residents and businesses in the district regarding the facilities master plan, district financial accountability update, school technology and the future of the district 2012 and beyond.

The meetings will take place at:
•6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, at Lincoln Park Elementary School on Markison Avenue
•5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at St. Stephens Community Center on 17th Avenue
•6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at Berwick K-6 Alternative on Scottwood Road
•6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at Oakland Park Elementary School on Atwood Terrace;
•6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Avondale Elementary School on Avondale Avenue; and
•6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at Clinton Elementary School on Clinton Heights Avenue.

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