One day, Stephen Hardwick may find himself the parent of one student at Columbus Alternative High School and another at Dominion Middle School.
The Clintonville resident, a member of the Columbus City Schools Facilities Task Force, said the futures of his daughters helped shape his thinking as he backed the group's recommendation that Dominion students move into the former North High School on Arcadia Avenue from their current cramped quarters, while CAHS would remain at its admittedly outdated building on McGuffey Road.
"Voting one way hurts the education of kids, and the other way doesn't," Hardwick said.
The school board didn't vote either way. Instead, board members opted at a Nov. 7 meeting only to ask the interim superintendent to further study the advisability of relocating Columbus North International from the Arcadia Avenue building to the former Brookhaven High School, joining with students in the Columbus Global Academy, while moving Dominion to the larger North High School, to be joined by sixth-graders from the Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy, Ecole Kenwood and Hubbard Mastery.
"The board also asked the interim superintendent to identify interim alternative solutions for building conditions at Columbus Alternative High School," according to a Nov. 7 announcement from the district's communications office.
The Facilities Task Force on which Hardwick served had recommended the board go ahead with the former plan, to be implemented at the start of the 2020-21 school year, but made no reference to Columbus Alternative.
"We're still trying to figure out what questions the board has," Hardwick said. "They didn't kill this. They could have killed this if they wanted. They only asked for more information about this.
"One thing I'm confident of, because I spent the last six months living with this: They're going to see from the numbers that came from a brilliant plan by their administration, it's the only plan that makes any sense and has any possibility of happening."
The decision not to decide what to do about overcrowding at Dominion, which is at 130 percent of capacity and turned away 48 students from the neighborhood at the start of this school year, has left some parents "in limbo."
"I'm very surprised and disappointed," said Laura Kogan, a librarian at Weinland Park Elementary School whose son is in sixth grade at Dominion. "If Dominion stays put, what is the fate of Dominion?"
"I think my concern with the delay of any decision is just that cuts into any planning time to make changes," said Tasha Weaver, who also has a sixth-grader at Dominion. "It just kind of leaves us in limbo a little bit. I'm just surprised that they decided to delay it."
"I guess I feel like the delay in making a decision, it adds to frustration and confusion, and puts us in limbo," parent Tanya Burgess said. "Certainly, I think parents want to feel confident the board and the district will do their due diligence to make sure concerns are addressed and appropriate solutions will be arrived at. Parents can't really prepare if they don't know what the end solution is or when the decision will be made."
In an email, Dominion Middle School parent Meg Foley wrote:
"I think everyone has made great points and this is a difficult issue. But here's the crux as I see it: Dominion has outgrown its space because the parents, teachers, administration and students have built success into our programs. Our diversity, be it race, nationality, gender orientation, identity, neighborhood or opinion, is what makes us a resilient and growth-oriented community. We need more space to maintain what we have built and to continue to grow. The option for our growth is North. Is it ideal? No. Does it solve some of our problems? Yes. And I say this as a Dominion and Columbus Alternative parent.
"CAHS needs a new space. Immediately. It does not have to be North. There are other buildings that have the space to co-locate CAHS."
"I feel like Dominion Middle School is doing some good things," Kogan said. "My thing is if you're doing such a good job ... why would we want to thwart that? Why wouldn't we want to expand that?"
"It is overcrowded and I haven't heard anyone propose anything else to address that," Weaver said.