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Columbus School Board Weighs School Closing Recommendations.

More than 100 people turned out last night at Linden McKinley High School to sound off on the proposed closing next year of four Columbus schools. Some parents pleaded to board members to spare Linden Park Elementary and Linmoor Middle school.

Columbus school board members listened for about 90 minutes to passionate pleas, short history lessons of Linden schools, and even a poem as parents and some staff asked them to decline a recommendation to close Linden Park Elementary School and Linmoor Middle School. Parent Kim Winfield beamed as she told of her son's experience at Linmoor. "This is the first year on honor roll. So, obviously we're doing something right. I couldn't beg for a B. you know, So when are we going to concentrate on doing something right." Says Winfield.

Gene West says closing schools and re-drawing attendance boundaries is disruptive and hurts students ability to learn. "Our kids need somebody they can count on and somebody they can depend on. I mean when we went to school we had our teachers. They switch teachers like they switch shirts now. It don't make any sense." Says West. At one point during the hearing, Longtime Linden Area activist, Clarence Lumpkin walked out of the meeting saying it was a waste of time. The Columbus school board is being asked to weigh both emotion and facts. The district enrolls 56,000 students in 134 school buildings. And Superintendent Gene Harris says, in the Linden Area, 53 percent of parents with school age children choose to send them to charter or private and community schools. "We have about 1,556 of those students who have elected to stay in those schools out of 3,318. We have about 1,700, 1,762 to be exact, who have elected, they or their parents have elected to go someplace else. We have about 53 percent just of the students who go to those schools that I've named, Linden McKinley, Linmoor, Hamilton, Linden Elementary, Windsor who have elected to go somewhere else." Says Harris.

Harris adds that declining enrollments is a primary reason the district has to consider possible school closings. Harris says her administration would like a decision on the possible closings by the end of January so the district can complete its planning for the school year that begins in the late summer.

Tom Borgerding, WOSU News