German Village Gazette

Southside STAY gets encouraging news from CCS


The Columbus City Schools district has expressed a willingness to consider changing the enrollment policy at Stewart Alternative Elementary School.

Superintendent Gene Harris, in a recent letter to Southside STAY members, said that allowing Stewart elementary to serve the neighborhood's families "makes a lot of sense and we are committed to seriously exploring this opportunity as we prepare for the opening of the new school."

Members of Southside STAY -- or Staying Together to Advance Youth -- approached the school board Jan. 8 and asked district officials to create a combined open enrollment and lottery system at the school, which is 100 percent lottery right now.

Matt Eshelbrenner, a co-founder of the group, called Harris' reaction a "good sign."

"I definitely think we're pleasantly surprised," he said. "We were hoping things went in this direction."

Southside STAY, which has roughly 100 members, is looking to improve the school system in the German Village area, giving parents a reason to remain in the neighborhood instead of moving to the suburbs or enrolling their children in private schools.

Southside STAY next will meet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in Beck Elementary School, 387 E. Beck St.

Students have been reassigned to the school since a fire badly damaged Stewart in 2010. A renovated Stewart is slated to reopen in 2014.

Among the group's requests is that the district consider changing the grade configuration of Stewart from grades K-5 to pre-K through sixth grade by renovating the Columbus Maennerchor building directly to the west.

Harris wrote that the district is trying to determine the feasibility of that proposal based upon space and funding options.

"I am both impressed and excited about the energy, passion and commitment demonstrated by the members of Southside STAY," Harris said.

"Parental involvement is one of the key ingredients for the success of a school and the engagement efforts of your organization give me great confidence that the South High School feeder pattern has a bright future ahead of it."