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Brookhaven High School closing

Some students to Whetstone; fate of building undecided

Northland-area school's students to be reassigned in 2014-15

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What is clear is that staff and students at Brookhaven High School will be reassigned next school year.

What is to become of the building, however, is up in the air and might not be decided for years.

The Columbus City Schools Board of Education March 4 voted to close five schools, including Brookhaven.

That means most students will be reassigned to either Mifflin High School on the Northeast Side or to Whetstone High School, while others could choose lottery schools or schools closer to their homes.

According to information from the school district, 273 Brookhaven students in grades 9-11 will be reassigned to Mifflin.

Another 142 -- 53 living in the Como Elementary School attendance area and 89 students attending Brookhaven through the lottery system -- will be reassigned to Whetstone.

Those figures could be reduced for a number of reasons, including Brookhaven students who choose to enroll in their home school, students who apply through the lottery to other schools and others who attend career centers and college courses off-site during the day.

School officials have been discussing the necessity of closures in recent months, the result of a failed 9.01-mill operating levy in November. The closures are estimated to reduce district expenses by $10 million, as officials seek $50 million in cuts overall.

A schools consolidation team took into account many factors when closing the schools, such as projected future enrollment, capacity and academic performance.

Brookhaven has a building capacity of 1,145, meaning it is 48.5 percent occupied.

Jacqueline Gills' daughter, Brandee, is among the students reassigned to Mifflin.

A junior at Brookhaven, Brandee has friends and good teachers, and doesn't want to start all over again, her mother said.

"I feel like they let Brookhaven down," Gills said of the school board.

The March 4 vote came after two raucous public meetings, at which several hundred parents, staff and students pleaded with district officials not to close their schools.

The school board did reconsider closing two schools -- Independence High School and Siebert Elementary School.

However, Brookhaven, Monroe Middle School and Arlington Park, Maybury and Fifth Avenue International elementary schools will be shuttered.

State law requires any district building that has been vacant for two years be offered for sale or lease to all charter schools at a price no more than their market value, said Jeff Warner, spokesman for the district.

As for buildings that have been vacant less than two years, the district could elect to hold onto them for future district use, reopen them for district use, or offer them for sale or lease, Warner said.

Alesia Gillison, executive director of school leadership development at Columbus City Schools, spoke at the March 4 meeting.

She 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.

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