The Eagles will soar no more, while Dominion will have dominion over a wider area as a result of a recent Columbus school board decision.

The Eagles will soar no more, while Dominion will have dominion over a wider area as a result of a recent Columbus school board decision.

Board members voted unanimously last week to close four elementary and five middle schools at the end of the 2009-10 academic year.

Clinton Middle School on Karl Road just south of Morse Road, where the sports teams are the Eagles and the motto is "Dare to Soar," is among those being closed, while the shuttering of the Indianola Math, Science and Technical middle school on East 19th Avenue will send additional students to Dominion Middle School in Clintonville.

School closings and the resultant changes in feeder patterns are almost always highly emotional issues, but the principals at Clinton and Dominion middle schools said they, the members of their staffs and the parents of students are making the best of their very different situations.

"Leading up to the vote, the school district management did a great job of, I think, putting information out to the public in terms of scheduling community meetings and holding communities throughout the city," said Dorothy Flanagan, principal at Dominion Middle School.

"The flavor here has been one that is very positive," she added. "My staff is very strong. They're looking forward to being able to educate more children."

"Naturally, because of the fact that we're a family here and we work well with the kids, it's a difficult change," said Clinton principal Patricia DuBose. "Staff has embraced it and supported it and understands the superintendent's realignment policy.

"We're moving on. We have a job to do."

The board's Dec. 8 ruling adopted a plan forwarded a week earlier by members of the External Oversight Committee for Student Reassignment and Consolidation. The panel conducted what a district announcement described as "exhaustive data analysis and public feedback."

The plan closes the nine "under-enrolled" schools and alters attendance zones. It affects about 13 percent of the approximately 53,000 students.

Clinton Middle School students will be reassigned to Medina Middle School.

"For parents of students at the schools which will be closed," the announcement stated, "meetings will be held at their respective building(s) to assist in working through the choices for the coming school year."

"We are working very hard to create greater continuity among our elementary, middle and high schools and ease student transitions as they advance to higher grade levels," Superintendent Gene Harris said in the statement announcing the board's decision.

The last comprehensive review of attendance boundaries occurred in 1996, according to the statement.

The elementary schools set to close are Deshler, Douglas Alternative, Fair Alternative and Literature Based Alternative at Hubbard.

The other three middle schools included in the board's ruling are Beery, Eastmoor and Franklin Alternative.

Parents are part of the family at Clinton Middle School, DuBose said, and many of them, past and present, spoke out at public meetings against the closure. Some of the students, she added, offered to hold a bake sale, if that would help.

"Naturally it was difficult for them, as well," DuBose said.

Staff members at Clinton were especially gratified by a man who walked in and offered to do what he could to help keep the school open, the principal said. It turned out that he had attended the school for a single year, in 1981, before his family moved away. Now back in Columbus, he was distressed to read that his old middle school was being considered for closure.

"It really was (gratifying), because he appreciated the effort," DuBose said. "It kind of made us speechless, because he just walked in off the street."

Dominion Middle School's Flanagan said closing schools "is never an easy thing."

However, she added that she felt the process was handled smoothly, logically and professionally.

"One of the concerns that I have heard from the community is how will this affect class sizes, and the answer is it won't," Flanagan said. "Because of the teacher contract, class size has to be set between 30 and 35.

"We're looking forward to a possible increase in staffing and being able to hire on some new people with different talents," she added. "We're just looking forward to having those additional students.

"The goal is building a strong sense of family and community in the school."

"As a whole, the parents do understand the whole realignment process," DuBose said. "We're all working together to make this as smooth as possible.

"It's a learning lesson for all of us."

kparks@thisweeknews.com