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Brookhaven on the block for closing

Columbus City Schools officials are considering a number of options involving the closing or restructuring of under-enrolled schools.

Two weeks ago, district staff identified three schools that could be closed after this academic year: Brookhaven High School and Fairwood and Siebert elementary schools. The three schools were selected using a template process used in past school closings, officials said, incorporating academic performance, enrollment rates and building capacity and condition.

Superintendent Gene Harris and Senior Executive of Capital Improvements Carole Olshavsky last week presented to the external planning committee different scenarios involving the closing of some schools and the reorganization of others.

Harris said the process of closing is increasingly difficult and something no one wants to do.

"We are obviously very concerned about neighborhoods," Harris said.

"We are really paying attention to the whole feeder pattern process."

Three scenarios involving Brookhaven were presented. The first involves closing the high school and assigning its feeder schools -- Medina Middle School and Maize, North Linden, Huy-AG Bell and Como elementary schools -- to the Mifflin High School feeder pattern.

According to the presentation, Brookhaven has a building capacity of 1,145 students, and 963 students could be attending here based on neighborhood assignments. However, the school has an enrollment of 675, with just 306 assigned by address.

"We have a lot of children not necessarily in their assigned school," Olshavsky said.

"From a geographic standpoint, only 306 students are effected."

The remaining students are comprised of students attending through open enrollment, are special-needs or are taking English as a Second Language.

Mifflin High School has a capacity of 835 with a total of 1,258 students assigned there by address. Enrollment is presently 627, with 439 assigned by geography.

Region 2, which includes Brookhaven, is also the district's only region to have four high schools, Olshavsky said.

The second scenario would leave Brookhaven open but close Medina. In the process, Brookhaven would become a grades 7-12 school, and the four feeder elementary schools would be K-6.

"There's plenty of room at Brookhaven to become 7-12," Olshavsky said, adding the problem would be capacity at the elementary schools.

The third option would close Brookhaven and Medina and reassign the elementary schools to different feeder patterns: Maize to Northland, North Linden and Huy-AG Bell to Mifflin and Como to Linden McKinley as a K-6.

Only one scenario was presented involving Fairwood and Siebert, and it would leave both schools open. In this case, South High School would become a 7-12 school, all feeder elementary schools would become K-6 and Heyl and Moler elementary schools would be consolidated into the Southmoor Middle School building.

Attendance zones for the elementary schools would have to accommodate sixth-grade populations.

South High School, with a building capacity of 1,096 and 1,162 student assigned to it by address, has an enrollment of 484. Turning it into a 7-12 school would assign an additional 600 students. It is underutilized, but is one of the district's most recently renovated facilities.

External planning committee co-chairman Floyd Jones said the committee is looking to host community meetings in November to receive public input and present recommendations to the Board of Education in December.

Dates and locations of those meetings have not yet been announced.

The committee also is planning to examine administrative buildings for possible consolidations.

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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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