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Columbus City Schools Out $1 Million In Scrapped Expansion Plan

Columbus City School board members, Tuesday night, received a recommendation on the stalled language immersion expansion project. WOSU reports the board also learned $1 million it spent on the project cannot be recovered. Columbus City Schools went back to the drawing board earlier this year on its plans to expand its highly-sought after language immersion program after environmental issues were discovered at the city’s historic Indianola Middle School. The school was set to become the home of the district’s two language immersion schools. After discussions with the schools, parents and a neighborhood partnership group, the district’s facilities and construction manager, Carole Olshavsky, with the support from Superintendent Gene Harris, recommended to build a new Ecole Kenwood French immersion school on its current site and to renovate the Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy. “For the expanded programs it’s still the most cost effective solution going forward because of the extra 300 students we would be providing for with this expansion.," Olshavsky said. This option would increase the programs to allow for a total of 1,200 students. The price tag: $30.8 million – $5.8 million over budget. The total includes $1 million the school district already spent on an architect for design and construction fees for the scrapped Indianola school plan. Board member W. Shawna Gibbs asked Olshavsky about the $1 million: “How do we recoup this $1 million we’ve already put into Indianola?â€? Gibbs asked. “We don’t,â€? Olshavksy answered. “Lessons learned. It’s not recoverable.â€? Olshavsky said the contingency fund, which would be used to pay for the over-budget project, covers unforeseeable expenses, like the Indianola issue. But that response did not satisfy Gibbs. "We put $1 million in the building. We have two schools looking for space and we’re going to walk away from $1 million?â€? Gibbs asked. “That’s our only choice, option at this point in time. We made that decision when we terminated the contract [with the architect] and moved forward,â€? Olshavsky replied. If Indianola could be sold or leased, Olshavsky said, the money could be recovered. The board could vote at its next meeting whether to accept Olshavksy’s recommendation.