by Caroline Chidester, ’17
Neighboring high school could close under Columbus school master plan
One of two Columbus schools bordering Upper Arlington could close and be consolidated with the other under a new plan announced in early April by Columbus City Schools (CSS).
CCS announced a major rebuilding plan in April that will replace or modernize up to six high schools. As part of its newly introduced Facilities Master Plan, the district has created a variety of options for each area of the district, some involving only renovations of existing buildings and others calling for the building of new schools to replace ageing structures.
In the northwest area, one option is to replace both Centennial and Whetstone, while other options include consolidating one school into the other. Replacement of Whetstone on its current site became much less likely shortly after the master plan was unveiled, when the district was told by a consultant that the high school sits in a floodplain.
“I think the renovations could benefit the students through having a nicer school, but it could definitely create conflicts because it could create a lot longer travel to school, and it would be more expensive than just fixing up Whetstone and Centennial,” Whetstone junior Lauren Peters, said.
Upper Arlington junior Jordan Zimmer believes that the plan may be the last straw for some Whetstone students.
“I have a lot of friends at Whetstone that have considered moving to UA in the past,” Zimmer said. “I think this big change may finally inspire them to switch, considering they may have to switch schools anyway.”
The master plan was developed by an Facilities Master Planning Ad Hoc Committee, a committee designed for this particular purposed comprised of qualified professionals.
The district recently held four community meetings to introduce its plan. The presentation included a statement of goals for the Facilities Master Plan, including to “place every student in a new or fully renovated facility.”
Additional goals include operating facilities efficiently and balancing diverse educational programs, neighborhood schools and long-term operational costs.
Critics of the plan cite the value of attending a school in their neighborhood, and are concerned about the cost to taxpayers.
Replacing Centennial with a new structure on the same site would cost an estimated $57 million. The district has 109 schools in all, with an enrollment of more than 50,000 students. Up to six high schools could close under all of the plans being considered.