Jacqueline Gills is pondering her next step following the announced closing of Brookhaven High School in Northland.
Her daughter, Brandee, a junior at the school, likes her classmates and teachers at Brookhaven but will be forced to attend Mifflin High School next year. Others at Brookhaven will have to attend Whetstone High School in Clintonville.
“I feel like they let Brookhaven down,” Gills said of the Columbus Board of Education, which voted unanimously on March 4 to close Brookhaven, Monroe Middle School, Arlington Park, Maybury and Fifth Avenue International elementary schools.
The board, however, spared Independence High School and Siebert Elementary School from the same fate.
Board member Michael D. Cole introduced an amendment to save Maybury, something not supported by a majority of the board, but was a successful in getting “preferred placement” status for parents and students at Monroe, a lottery school.
The vote came after two lively and emotional public meetings, held Feb. 13 at ft. hayers Performing Arts Center and Feb. 25at East High School. Several hundred parents, staff and students attended each meeting and pled with district officials not to close their schools.
Like many parents, Gills is considering leaving the district.
“I don’t want my child to become another statistic,” she said.
District officials agreed they have to iron out many details before they close the schools and reassign students and staff elsewhere. Transportation, athletics, educational needs and assimilation topped the list of concerns for board members and those who spoke at the March 4 meeting.
Alisia Gillison, regional executive director for high schools and middle schools, said the district would soon begin working with parents and students on their transitions to other schools. As for students who would have to use public transportation, the district couldn’t begin discussing route realignments with the Central Ohio Transit Authority until the board made its decision, Gillison said.
Because of a failed 9.01-mill operating levy on the fall ballot, the district must cut $50 million from the budget next year. Superintendent Dan Good said the plan approved by the board will trim about $10 million, $15 million if all seven were closed. Most of that will come from personnel costs while the remainder will come from utilities and other ancillary expenses, he said. Yet, the district will incur some utilities expenditures if the schools remain closed, he said.