By Andrea Cordle
According to board member W. Shawna Gibbs, the Columbus City Schools District needs 21st century facilities.
The district has been reviewing its facilities master plan to address future building needs. Now, the district is looking to the community for input before moving forward with a concrete plan.
The district held a special meeting on April 20 at Briggs High School to review building options for westside schools.
Gibbs, who grew up on the city’s westside, said though the Briggs meeting was to address the west planning area, the entire district could see changes.
“At the end of the day, we are going to have one plan for one district,” said Gibbs.
Columbus Schools consultant Tracy Richter, with DeJong – Richter, said the district plan would cost an estimated $1 billion and the approved plan would take at least 10 to 15 years to complete. The work to rebuild schools would be completed in phases.
There will be no changes implemented in the 2016/17 school year.
“The goal is to place every student in a new or fully renovated facility,” said Richter.
According to Richter, the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission would fund 30 percent of the school construction project for Columbus City Schools.
The district would need to seek a bond issue to fund the remaining amount.
“We need to position the district to operate facilities efficiently to put valuable taxpayer dollars into the classroom,” said Richter.
There were several draft options presented for the two west area high schools. One potential option includes reducing one high school. This could include plans to:
•Rebuild or renovate West High School and consolidate Briggs with West. West High School would then become a larger campus, with off-site space for athletics.
•Renovate and add to Briggs High School, making it larger to hold approximately 1,600 students. West High School would consolidate with Briggs.
•Close both Briggs and West and consolidate both schools into a big box reuse high school. According to Richter, many school districts around the country have found success using old commercial space as a school facility.
The other draft option would be to keep two high schools in the area. This plan includes:
•Rebuild or renovate West High School for 800 students and renovate Briggs high School for 800 students.
•Renovate Briggs High School and West would become a regional alternative school.
•West would become a regional alternative high school. Briggs would close and the district would use a big box reuse high school.
The west draft plan also addressed elementary and middle school facilities. One option includes plans to:
•Retire Highland Elementary School and consolidate with Westgate Elementary.
•Retire Valleyview Elementary School and consolidate with a new West Broad Elementary.
•Renovate Lindbergh Elementary.
•Replace Eakin Elementary and Westgate Elementary.
•Replace Hiltonia and Westmoor middle schools.
Another draft option includes plans to:
•Retire Highland Elementary and consolidate with a new West Broad and a new Westgate Elementary.
•Replace Eakin and Valleyview elementary schools.
“Nothing is final right now,” said Richter.
After Richter’s presentation, community members were asked to discuss the draft plan options in small groups and fill out a questionnaire so district leaders can move forward.
To view all the draft options for schools in the west planning area, visit www.ccsoh.us.