New Albany News

Still no date set for Marburn's move

Academy officials have several goals in addition to expansion of facilities

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RYAN M.L. YOUNG/THISWEEKNEWS
Beth Skuldt, a math tutor at Marburn Academy, has converted a storage closet at the school into a makeshift office. The Marburn Academy board plans to build a 54,000-square-foot facility in New Albany that can accommodate 250 students and alleviate many of the space issues the school has at its Northland site.
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Marburn Academy officials say they don't have a timeline for moving the school from Northland to New Albany.

When asked about the move, school director Earl Oremus said it needed to happen "yesterday" because of the academy's expanding enrollment.

Oremus said the Marburn Academy board has raised half the funds needed and the school has the capacity to issue debt, but he's not sure when members will decide to make the leap.

Marburn officials are expected to invest $9.2 million to build the new facility, according to New Albany officials.

Marburn Academy was founded in 1981 and its enrollment includes students with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

The academy charges $23,800 a year for high school students and $22,500 a year for younger students, with financial-aid programs available.

The academy's 185 students from 26 school districts currently are based in what Oremus calls a "typical 1960s elementary school."

The Marburn building at 1860 Walden Drive served as an elementary school for Columbus but now accommodates Marburn students in all grades.

"We grew to a point where we just couldn't fit in this building," Oremus said.

Marburn officials added three modulars three years ago and another four are being installed now.

"We turn 30 kids away a year," Oremus said.

The Marburn Academy board plans to build a 54,000-square-foot building in New Albany that can accommodate 250 students. The new building would be north of Griswold Drive and west of Johnstown Road near state Route 161.

Like the Northland location, which is surrounded by residential properties, the New Albany site would be bordered on one side by the Windsor subdivision.

Though the move would allow the school to enroll more students, Marburn spokeswoman Nancy Paul said the academy quickly could reach its new capacity.

"We'll be at 200-plus students (by fall 2014)," Paul said.

However, Oremus said, the New Albany site would have room for the school to expand.

The 17-acre site and the new two-story building would have many of features the current location doesn't.

At the Walden Drive building, classrooms are set up in a former library and offices are in converted storage rooms or in a large room separated by partitions.

The new building will have more space for such things, as well as a full-size gymnasium.

The site also includes room for a separate high school and an early childhood training center, which could instruct educators how to teach students such as those who attend Marburn, Oremus said.

In spite of the expansion talk, Oremus said, he has a running joke with Marburn board members who jest he's trying to put the academy out of business.

In a way, Oremus said, he is.

One of his goals is to have 4-year-olds throughout Ohio tested each year.

When students with learning issues are identified, Oremus said, educators need to know how to teach them so they can advance through kindergarten, first and second grades at the same levels as students without learning issues.

The procedure would prevent students with dyslexia, for example, from struggling through three years of school before being tested in third grade and then sent to a special-needs class, where they might not get the help they need, he said.

Oremus said some of that goal has been accomplished through Marburn's outreach programs and through statewide efforts to change teaching.

Marburn is in the second year of a pilot program in eight public school districts that demonstrates how to test students and teach those who need to be taught differently in kindergarten and in first and second grades. Oremus said word has spread and many parents are asking their schools to start similar programs.

A program in Upper Arlington was started by the parent group UA Kids and another could begin soon in Olentangy Local Schools, Oremus said.

Even if he is closer to having more students tested and different teaching methods used, Oremus said, he's still not reaching what he estimates at 50,000 Ohio students who need augmented education.

"We'd like to model here what can then be adopted in traditional class settings," he said.

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