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Columbus City Schools Openings and Closings

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Yesterday, a Dispatch article revealed the list of 17 Columbus City Schools that are on the “watch list” for closing by the end of the year, which includes the Literature Based Alternative at Hubbard, Douglas Alternative, and Indianola.

Today, the Dispatch has another story that showcases the upcoming opening of a new foreign-language high school set to open next year with a focus on Spanish, French and Chinese. The location of this new school is still TBD.

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21 Responses to Columbus City Schools Openings and Closings

  1. columbusmike October 21, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am

    This is what happens when a city spreads too thin and tax dollars are spread too far.  It’s happening all across the country…not just Columbus.  Someone HAS to make the connection that sprawling communities are killing our country…

  2. Pablo
    Pablo October 21, 2009 1:26 pm at 1:26 pm

    Sprawl might have a role but I think the main reason is lower enrollment.  Remember that at one time these schools were full so I suppose if you’re looking to blame something, you can blame the baby boomers!  Enrollment is down about 50% from the peak in 1971.  Here’s a little enrollment data from Wikipedia:


    40,000 (Estimate)

    93,000 (Estimate)

    110,725 (All-Time Peak)






  3. Coreroc
    Coreroc October 21, 2009 1:37 pm at 1:37 pm

    Douglas would be a shame to close! actually any school would be, but there I believe is a need for alternative shcools for those that cannot afford private education.

  4. joev
    joev October 21, 2009 1:40 pm at 1:40 pm

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but if there is so much demand for alternative schools and pretty wide disdain for the traditional schools, why aren’t they all alternative?

  5. jawjack187
    jawjack187 October 21, 2009 1:46 pm at 1:46 pm

    I agree that enrollment is the reason, but the cause of the decrease should be credited to the growth of Charter Schools in the area (IMO). This would probably line up nicely with the increase in positive state wide test scores for CCS as well. I am not absolutely certain, but I would bet a buffalo nickel that the better scores in the CCS system started happening as charters got more prominent. This would occur for a few reasons. Many of the students who left the district initially were not making good grade/scores in the CCS schools that they were performing in. In a way, their departure helped and hurt CCS. It helped in that the test scores left the buildings where these students were struggling. It hurt in that the $$ associated with the student went to the new school.

    The CCS system is too big. Competition has caused it to downsize and become quite better than it was ten years ago.

  6. kcrissinger October 21, 2009 2:16 pm at 2:16 pm

    I’m no expert, but I have lived in the Columbus metro area my entire life.  The decline is CCS started when forced busing began in the 70′s.  This started the “white flight” to the suburban school districts.  I’m sure you will see a proportionate increase in suburban district enrollment that mirrors the decline in CCS enrollment over the years.  I think much of the “sprawl” in the suburbs was fueled by this.  I’m definitely not saying this is a good thing in any way.  It is very sad.  I don’t know that CCS will ever totally recover due to the burb mentality.

  7. Coreroc
    Coreroc October 21, 2009 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm

    joev Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 1:40 pm
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but……………….

    well then there would be no alternative. I don’t think the demand is such that everyone needs this kind of school, but enough for there to be a variety of selection. For example i went to Douglas and C.A.H.S. and now have a great future in the arts. Same with kids that went to Fort Hayes in my years all have great futures in the arts. However we had no sports at our school at all. So different strokes for different folks fits in here. Not everyone has the need yet a need still exists!!

  8. Walker Evans
    Walker October 21, 2009 3:00 pm at 3:00 pm

    Lower enrollment stems from lower central city populations which stems from suburban sprawl and white flight over the past 50 years. I don’t think that flight can necessarily be completely attributed to forced busing in the 70s (as flight had stared well before that), but it could have certainly contributed to the exodus.

    Closing and consolidating schools due to low enrollment sounds like the short-term fix. If we want to make CCS a stellar school system once again, we’ll have to rebalance and repopulate our central city neighborhoods with familes and especially parents who are involved in the educational system/process.

    Of course, that’s much easier said than done. It’s far beyond what any school board administrators could hope to accomplish in a standard term, and it’s more than any small group of parents can do on their own. It took decades to get into the state that CCS is currently in, and it will take decades to slowly get back out. I certainly think that overall we’re headed in the right direction, and it sounds like many CCS schools have made improvements over the last few years.

    Long way to go though… and it’s not going to be a smooth ride.

  9. jawjack187
    jawjack187 October 21, 2009 4:07 pm at 4:07 pm

    With Columbus exhibiting population growth over the last few years  (12% increase from 1990-2000), I can’t agree with the sheer numbers behind the suburban sprawl argument. The implication is that CCS schools are bad because white people have left the inner city. I disagree. The majority of white citizens in Columbus have not fled, and we still have many caucasian families who live in the central city and send their children to CCS system schools. The low enrollment of central city schools , IMO, must be attributed to free public, non-CCS schools being opened in the neighborhoods where CCS schools are still operating. How else could the population grow (with school aged children having moderate growth as a subset) but the school system shrink? The areas where we have win-win agreements (live in Columbus but attend *insert suburb here* schools) are limited enough to not skew the numebrs by the tens of thousands.

    I agree that we should focus on rebalancing our neighborhoods, but what comes first? The families Walker speaks of will not move to neighborhoods that have low performing schools. They have too many other options. The schools have to perform better, and competition breeds better performance. For better or for worse, Charters have provided that.

  10. Coreroc
    Coreroc October 21, 2009 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm

    Very good closing point jawjack! this is exactly why some parents choose the alternative route! because they can make that choice and still live in thier chosen neighborhood.

  11. thepiece October 21, 2009 4:48 pm at 4:48 pm

    I understand the need to close schools given enrollment trends, but the future for these former school sites (and the planning for reuse) is frustrating.

    I live across the street from the now closed Barret MS, and there have been so many changes in plans for that building its hard to keep it straight (first it was going to be demolished and rebuilt, then rehabed, then closed, then it opened temporarily as South HS, now its closed again but they are only using the ball field…which used to be open to the public but is now fenced off). 

    We have little to no communication from the district about what they are going to do with the site. I see another school just two blocks from me is also on the potential close list, so that’s two (soon to be vacant) blocks now within a five minute walk from my house.

    I just wish there was more sensitivity to the impact of the closures (and these buildings) on the immediate neighborhood. All of these locations have the potential to be reused in a positive way for the neighborhood, but the confusion and the lack of communication about the future of these sites frustrates that potential.

  12. Walker Evans
    Walker October 21, 2009 4:58 pm at 4:58 pm

    jawjack187 Says: With Columbus exhibiting population growth over the last few years  (12% increase from 1990-2000), I can’t agree with the sheer numbers behind the suburban sprawl argument.

    Those numbers don’t tell the whole story though. You have to look at which areas that growth is occurring in. As you’re well aware, the Columbus city limits are a massive area. Much of what has been annexed as Columbus in the past 50 years is suburban in design, and many of those areas are still growing. That means “sprawl” is occuring, even if the population isn’t moving all the way outside of the growing Columbus boundary line. Students may still be attending CCS in those areas, but when the population is spreading itself so thin, we’re bound to run into school problems the same way we’ve run into public service problems that require tax increases to keep things running sufficiently.

    A 12% growth rate is great and all, but when you have multiple suburban communities that are doubling their populations (100% growth) in that same amount of time (10 years) then it’s not quite as regionally significant by comparison.

    jawjack187 Says: The implication is that CCS schools are bad because white people have left the inner city. I disagree.

    The problem with “white flight” isn’t necessarily the color of the skin of people who relocated, because you are correct that many white people still live within central city neighborhoods… the problem is that “white flight” generally implies that people with the means and money and willpower have uprooted and left. From what I’ve read about my neighborhood, the KLD was nearly exclusively a black neighborhood 50 years ago, and the population here has severely declined as well. The median income in 43203 is one of the lowest in the region. Perhaps “suburban flight” is a more accurate term, but the problem is still the same… when everyone who has both the money and the personal conviction to leave for what they perceive to be greener pastures, it’s going to do a lot of harm to the neighborhood school system (and businesses and neighborhood groups and churches and property values and everything else). And that’s exactly what we’ve seen in a lot of our central neighborhoods, regardless of how the race demographics break down.

  13. kcrissinger October 21, 2009 5:26 pm at 5:26 pm

    Maybe as Walker said, “white flight” may not be the best term; “suburban flight”  is a better term.  Many people moved to allow their children to go to a neighborhood school instead of being bused anywhere from 5 to 10 miles (one-way) every day.  I am not a racist in any way.  I’m just saying that the whole forced busing thing was pivotal in the history of the system (note years 1976-1980 below). 

    The following is from Wikepedia regarding the population history in the school system.

    1977 Desegregation
    Although technically the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case made segregation in schools illegal, some schools were still segregated by the neighborhoods they served. In March of 1977 Federal District Court Judge Robert M. Duncan ruled in Penick v. Columbus Board of Education that the school boundary methods used by Columbus Public Schools promoted segregation by sending black students to predominantly black schools and white students to predominantly white schools. The result was forced busing to desegregate all schools in the Columbus Public School district.
    Before the 1978-1979 school year the Columbus Public School district petitioned Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist for a stay on the forced busing, the petition was granted. However in April of 1979 the Supreme Court made their decision and upheld the original Duncan decision.
    Before this landmark decision was handed down, the district had a peak of 110,725 students enrolled in 1971 and operated 20 high schools. Many parents moved their children out of the Columbus district to the suburbs to avoid the desegregation. As a result district enrollment significantly declined forcing two high schools, Central High School (In 1982) and North High School (In 1979) to be closed, including many elementary and middle schools.
    [edit] School Enrollment
    Enrollment figures in the school district have significantly increased, and recently decreased in the past. Following is a list of school enrollments over the years. [1]

    District Enrollment

    Year  Enrollment  


    40,000 (Estimate)

    93,000 (Estimate)

    110,725 (All-Time Peak)






  14. Pablo
    Pablo October 21, 2009 5:46 pm at 5:46 pm

    Remember too that not all kids within the city limits attend CCS.  The “win-win” agreement sent Columbus kids to Dublin, Worthington, etc.  I don’t believe that’s in effect anymore – new areas annexed to the city are in the CCS district.  In my mind the 1977 city limits are basically the current CCS district limits with the exception of recently annexed land.  The drop in enrollment between 1971 and 1990 could be a combination of bussing and simple demographics (baby bommers vs. Gen X).

    I live in Clintonville and, in the ’90′s, I saw familes move out of the district when their kids reached middle school.  It seems that’s changed now that bussing has ended.

  15. kcrissinger October 21, 2009 6:04 pm at 6:04 pm

    Win-win is still in effect.  In fact, 44.74% of the students in the Hilliard school district live in Columbus.  These students were never in the Columbus school district, they were always in the suburban district.  Only land that was previously unincorporated and in a suburban school district, but annexed to Columbus after 1995 is moved to Columbus schools.  For example, the Hayden Run corridor.

  16. ColumbusKid
    ColumbusKid October 21, 2009 7:55 pm at 7:55 pm

    For the past couple of years, all new areas built in the city of Columbus (annexed) have to be in the CCS district.  The “win-win” that occured for decades is a big part of the problem for CCS, if not for enrollment purposes, but for funding purposes. When homes in my Linden neighborhood are going for around $95, 000 to $115,000 and the homes in the northwest or northeast part of “Columbus” where columbus taxes are paid, but school taxes are paid to the surburbs, on houses that cost $170,000+ that hurts the amount of funding CCS gets.

    As a CCS graduate, who graduated exactly 10 years ago, and who works at his high school alma mater, a lot of things have changed. There are major differences in the system. Some of those changes can be controlled by CCS, some cannot.

  17. Pablo
    Pablo October 21, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm

    Was ”win-win” enacted to further the growth of the City of Columbus without the burden of CCS?  Did it happen after bussing when families who could moved out of the district and the city needed to avoid a decline in population?

  18. kcrissinger October 22, 2009 9:08 am at 9:08 am

    There are many misconceptions about win-win.  I will try to clear up what I know as fact:

    1.  Columbus Kid – Your school property taxes are assessed by the Auditor based on the school district in which you live, not the municipality.  School taxes and City taxes are two separate things and are paid to separate entities.  The school district taxes you pay go to your home school district.   If your home is in CCS, you as assessed at and pay CCS rates to CCS.  If you’re Columbus, but a suburban district, then you pay the suburan district tax rate.

    2.  It is not when the houses are built, but when the actual land on which they are built was annexed into the City of Columbus.  If the land was annexed to Columbus BEFORE 19xx (that year that the last win-win agreement was signed), then the land (and the homes) stay in the suburban district.  However, anything annexed after 19xx goes to Columbus City School.  I know of one neighborhood in the Hilliard area (but technically City of Columbus) where, based on this, about 20 out of 400ish homes in the same subdivision go to CCS when a Hilliard school is within 2 miles max of their home and the rest of the subdivision goes to that school.

    Pablo, win-win was enacted in 1986,  you can read more by clicking here.  Columbus is unique in the area for its annexation practices dating back to the Sensenbrenner administration in the late 60′s.  Columbus controls the water and sewer in the area and was able to negotiate growth corridors with the suburbs.  This allowed Columbus to grow geographically, when other major cities were “land-locked” by their suburbs.

  19. ColumbusKid
    ColumbusKid October 22, 2009 8:29 pm at 8:29 pm

    @kcrissinger –

    I understand how property taxes work. Here is what I was saying: if you live in the area near Sawmill Rd. (where I used to live) you have a Dublin address, but are apart of the City of Columbus (vote for Mayor, etc.) However, in this area you are in Dublin schools. the property taxes for schools go to Dublin, not Columbus. The city taxes go to to Columbus.

    This is bad for Columbus because while these nicer, more expensive (thus higher yield on property taxes) homes are in the “city of Columbus” the school taxes go to Dublin. If we had NOT annexed that land into Dublin schools and rather into Columbus (the City for which these homes are) the CCS would recieve MORE money from property taxes. CCS loses a lot of money from homes that are in the CIty of Columbus but in another school district.

  20. Walker Evans
    Walker October 27, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am

    Columbus school-closing list narrows
    Panel pares preliminary picks from 17 to nine, with at least six to shut
    Tuesday,  October 27, 2009 3:10 AM
    By Jennifer Smith Richards

    Nine schools remain on a list of Columbus buildings that could close at the end of the school year, with the original list cut by nearly half yesterday.

    The committee responsible for selecting schools to close reviewed the academic performance and unique characteristics of each of the 17 on the first list of potential closures.


  21. Walker Evans
    Walker November 11, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am

    Columbus parents worried about school closings consider options
    Wednesday,  November 11, 2009 3:06 AM

    It has become a familiar gathering over the past several years: Columbus schools officials explaining to parents, students and teachers why their school is closing.

    About 400 people met In East High School last night to hear why the district might shut the doors of four more elementary schools and five more middle schools by the end of this school year.


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