Renovations for Dominion Middle School move in Clintonville near completion

JIM FISCHER
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Construction crews working on reinstalling bricks around new windows July 22 at the longtime Columbus North High School building, which is being converted into the new home of Dominion Middle School.

Dominion Middle School students will begin the school year in their new home on Arcadia Avenue as planned -- provided the district's response to the COVID-19 pandemic allows for students to be in schools at all.

Principal Dottie Flanagan said renovation at the building that originally was Columbus North High School from 1924 through 1979 generally has been unimpeded by the pandemic and there are no changes to the plan for the school to move from its longtime location at 330 Dominion Blvd. to 100 Arcadia Ave. for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

"We couldn't have asked for a smoother process from district leadership and our design and construction team," Flanagan said.

Flanagan acknowledged it remains to be seen what the start of the school year will look like.

"The overall plans for the safe reopening of schools in the fall is an ongoing discussion," district spokeswoman Jacqueline Bryant said. "(Superintendent Talisa Dixon) presented a plan to the school board June 30. However, the plan is subject to change unless there is a decrease in new COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks."

"It's unfortunate the current circumstance overshadows the excitement of the new space," said Michelle Christopher, parent of a Dominion student who served as a member of the steering committee that helped plan and share information about the move. "It's just another one of the challenges" of living through a pandemic.

Flanagan said she is confident the new Dominion Middle School building will allow her and her staff to "respond to any changes in the instructional plan that could occur." Larger hallways, some larger classrooms and multiple lab spaces for everything from science to life skills are among the benefits of the new home, she said.

"We're looking forward to being in the new space and having the expanded programs that will allow us to meet the needs of our students, Flanagan said.

Flanagan said district staff members were to have begun moving furniture and equipment from Dominion Boulevard to Arcadia Avenue the week of July 27.

She said there still will be some minor construction during the early part of the school year, specifically on the heating system and on a second elevator, but air conditioning and the existing elevator will be operational.

"I know families are starting to get a little anxious about information coming from the district, but most of that is separate from the move and has to do with the pandemic," Flanagan said.

"The only thing we ended last school year not knowing (about the move) was orientation and tours," Christopher said. "The hope was to have that information out, but it's just hard to plan for that with all the uncertainty."

"Most of the questions and concerns from other parents I'm hearing have to do with COVID(-19) and with how school is going to look to start the year, and is it going to be safe, but those are things that don't really have to do with the move," she said.

Whatever happens, Flanagan said, "we want out families to be comfortable and confident that we've got this."

The building opened as North High School in 1924. It was closed as a high school in 1979 because of declining enrollment.

For many years, it served as the Columbus City Schools' North Adult Education Center.

In recent years, it has been the temporary home for students whose buildings were being renovated, and from 2012 to 2019, it was the Columbus North International High School. That program was moved to the former Brookhaven High School in 2019.

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