West Mound Elementary ready to re-open

 Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy

West Mound Elementary, 2051 West Mound St., will hold an open house at 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 to provide an opportunity for parents and community members to meet staff and tour the new facility.

West Mound Elementary School, located at 2051 West Mound St., is one of six reconstructed Columbus Public Schools (CPS) featuring an open house and a dedication ceremony in the month of August.

On Aug. 23, Dr. Karla Case, principal of West Mound Elementary School, along with the school staff, will welcome the community at 7 p.m. to an open house and dedication ceremony.

“Actually, we’re complete, we’re ready, bring it on! Obviously we’re still unpacking, but in terms of construction [the building] is absolutely beautiful,” said Case.

Case said CPS had to raze the existing building in order to build the new and improved West Mound Elementary School, but Case is very pleased with the results.

“There’s lot of new features, mostly with new state of the art technology; we have a computer lab we didn’t have before and we have a gymnasium; before the cafeteria had to double as a gymnasium, so it’s well-equipped,” said Case.

Jeff Warner, Communications Officer at CPS said the total cost for the reconstruction of West Mound was $8.9 million. Warner said the money for this project came from the bond issue on the ballot passed by voters in 2002.

“It was Issue 3 that passed in 2002 to construct or renovate 35 schools on a large-scale facilities master plan. We’re finished with segment one; we’re in segment two of that plan. So this is a multi-stage plan and there’s three proposed segments. Each of the segments have to be voted on,” said Warner.

Warner said 14 out of the 35 construction projects associated with the 2002 bond issue are now completed, which includes five of six historic buildings at Fort Hayes Elementary School. Seven schools are scheduled to open for the fall school year, serving around 4,000 students altogether with a rough total estimate of 900,000 square feet constructed so far.

“We’ve also completed 40 of what’s called ‘Warm, Safe and Dry’ projects which are boiler replacement, roof replacements, things that keep buildings open and operational without having to replace them; and we have three remaining projects that’ll wrap up this year, and they’re roof replacements,” said Warner.

Case said West Mound has one preschool and then the rest of the grades are kindergarten through 5th grade. The building might have changed, but West Mound will still be known as the “West Mound All-Stars” in sports. And the school colors?

“Red, white and blue, we’re patriotic,” Case said with a laugh. “The only thing different is the facility.”

Case says the staff has not discussed how the facility will be used outside of the school hours, but she is sure arrangements for that will be made.

“We definitely want this facility to be used by the community; the boy scouts and so forth will use it and intramural sports will use the facility. In terms of school-sponsored clubs and organizations, we’ve been talking about some things, but we hadn’t decided on anything as of yet,” said Case.

Case said that while the year and a half long construction was being done, the students and staff were temporarily relocated to Watkins Elementary School. Watkins had extra room to accommodate the students and staff, due to declining enrollment, but Case said the relocation itself was not an issue.

“You can imagine with all the kids having to be bussed the challenges that can be, so all the parents are probably glad to be back; I know we’re glad to be back,” said Case.

Case admitted sometimes there are daunting obstacles to being a school principal, but she seems to have dealt with her challenges well. Case has been a principal at West Mound for four years now, with this being her sixth year as a principal in Columbus and a total of eleven years experience as a principal altogether. She hails from Waverly, Ohio, and has taught in Charleston, W.Va.  

I like working in a large urban district because of the diversity and I have lots of colleagues to work with. In a smaller district, you might have three or four principals but in this area, you might have 80 and it makes it easier to brainstorm and problem solve. It makes it nicer,” said Case.

Case emphasized there have been many rewards to being a principal and one of them is seeing West Mound rise to an “Effective” rating on the CPS report card. Case said this indicates West Mound is heading in the right direction.

“The most important thing is we just want to welcome the community – we’re thrilled to be back on the Westside; our doors are always open and parents are always welcome,” said Case.

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