Paul Carringer is predicting a fight.

Paul Carringer is predicting a fight.

Joe Jackson is thinking it's a trial balloon.

The two Clintonville men, both ardent supporters of Whetstone High School, were reacting to news reports last week that a combined building for Whetstone and Centennial high school students -- one of many scenarios Columbus City Schools officials are kicking around -- could not be built on the current Scenic Drive site.

That's because Whetstone, built in the late 1950s, was constructed in the Olentangy River flood plain, which would bar that site from receiving state funding for a new building.

Reaction to the possibility that Clintonville might one day lose its neighborhood high school did not come from said high school.

"All comments on this are coming from the district," Principal Janet L. Routzong said.

Carringer and Jackson, though, didn't hesitate to make their response to the possibility known.

Carringer, president and chief strategy officer for his own marketing firm, said the building's flood-plain status isn't exactly breaking news.

"The flood-plain issue is surprising in that it's been known since the school was built," the Whetstone graduate said. "I'm not sure why it's suddenly on the district's radar. They're trying to find a way to consolidate schools and that's obviously something that they're going to trot out."

"My reaction goes back about 10 or 15 years ago where a similar issue came up when they were considering merging Whetstone and Centennial, and it didn't happen," said Jackson, a real-estate agent. "I think the board of education now is just putting feelers out."

"It would be disappointing to lose the high school from the neighborhood," Carringer said. "High schools, when they're taken out, really damage the fabric of the neighborhood. When the building leaves, it removes that piece of fabric that keeps Clintonville strong."

Closing or merging high-performing schools, which both Whetstone and Centennial are, "would be a severe error" in Jackson's view.

"I think closing schools that are performing makes no sense, and yet rebuilding on that site also makes no sense because it's in a flood plain," he said. "I think it would be detrimental to both communities if either school were to close or merge."

Jackson predicted an "exodus" of families from Clintonville to the suburbs or to charter and private schools if Whetstone was shut down or merged with Centennial on the Northwest Side, but he doubts that will come about.

"I don't think they will close either school or merge them," he said. "My thoughts are when it all shakes out, they'll merge a couple of schools, but I don't see them merging Whetstone and Centennial. I think they just threw them out on the table because all the others were out there."

Carringer agreed -- but only to an extent.

"I suspect this is a feeling-out process by the school administration to see where the path of least resistance would be," he said. "They've been down this path before. I suspect that there will be more discussion and at some point people will have to once again fight for their neighborhood school -- and I really believe they will."