As Columbus City Schools officials work their way through the latest round of musical buildings, several Dominion Middle School parents say they tentatively are on board with what's in the works for their building -- but have their reservations as well.
"I'm optimistically cautious," said Tracie Telling Barzdukas, former Dominion Middle School PTA president.
"Obviously, there are concerns," said Tanya Burgess, mother of Sophia, a Dominion sixth-grader. "Change is hard."
A facilities task force -- a group that included Clintonville resident Stephen Hardwick -- recommended Sept. 4 that Dominion Middle School move to the former North High School on Arcadia Avenue. That's currently the home of Columbus North International, which would move in with Columbus Global Academy in the former Brookhaven High School in Northland.
Joining Dominion's students in the much-larger former high school would be sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the Spanish, French and Mandarin language-immersion programs.
The changes, if approved by school board members, would go into effect for the 2020-21 academic year.
Larger is better, as far as the parents of boys and girls at overcrowded Dominion Middle School are concerned.
"Just speaking for me, Dominion is currently overcrowded and that presents challenges in different ways," Burgess said. "The North building, obviously, would provide a lot more space. The primary benefit of the current Dominion moving to North would be space, but space should be linked to curriculum.
"Obviously, the district would need to make sure the staffing matches the number of students."
In giving a report on the task force at the Sept. 6 meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission, Hardwick said 48 students who live within Dominion's attendance territory had to be turned away this year.
He added the building at 330 Dominion Blvd. is at 114 percent of its capacity.
Where some Dominion parents have their doubts is the suggested intermingling of the language-immersion students.
Barzdukas has one daughter, Lija, at Dominion, and another, Vida, at Columbus Alternative High School.
She said she understands why the overcrowding pushed the middle school ahead of CAHS in terms of the district taking steps.
"I can see the benefits that are very alluring to the move: immersion, having more space, the architecture is stunning, it would stay in the neighborhood," she said.
"However," she added, "it's very ambitious. We're going to be merging a variety of communities. How is that all going to work under one principal, coordinating adjacent programs?"
Burgess said one concern is merging schools with different models of teaching.
"There are definite benefits to that; you can expand learning in terms of languages," she said. "But I would hope that the district takes this as an opportunity to be creative and includes staff and community in the process.
"I just hope that they really talk to the staff and the parents to hear what they want and what they don't want to lose."
"It's a difficult situation that they're dealing with," Tasha Weaver said of district officials.
Weaver's older daughter, Maddy, was a student at Dominion but now is a freshman at Whetstone High School. Her younger daughter, Megan, would start at Dominion in time for the potential shift in sites.
"I think it's probably a good solution," Weaver said of moving to the Arcadia Avenue location.
"There are a lot of benefits to a bigger building. Whichever way it goes, there's a really strong group of parents who will pitch in to make it work.
"Change is hard and there will be bumps along the way ... but again I have a lot of faith in our principal, Dottie Flanagan, and her staff that they'll make it work."
The last in a series of scheduled community meetings regarding the recommendations of the district's Schools Facilities Task Force is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at East High School, 1500 E. Broad St.