School Construction Plan Change Could Cost Taxpayers $1 Million

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The plan was to put two schools under one roof, but now Columbus City Schools is considering abandoning that idea, which could cost tax payers at least $1 million.

Indianola Middle School is in the beginning of a $26 million renovation. The plan was to renovate the historic school to house the district’s K-8 French and Spanish immersion schools.

The project has been slow to get off the ground. The district terminated the contract for the original architect.

District officials said that completing the renovation will now cost more than the $26 million budget, and school leaders are considering dumping the plan and the $1 million already spent on the project.

Facilities Chief Carole Olshavsky told school board members that the vast majority of money went to design and construction management fees.

“It’s lessons learned,” Olshavsky said. “It’s not recoverable.”

Columbus Board of Education member Shawna Gibbs said that she was stunned.

“I didn’t think that was going to be the answer,” Gibbs said.

A Columbus City Schools spokeswoman released a statement to Watchdog 10 on Wednesday.

“The district invested approximately $1 million on the original project. However, the district can recover the investment on the sale, lease or repurposing of the property,” the spokeswoman said.

That’s not exactly what Olshavsky told the board last night, Watchdog 10 discovered.

Gibbs asked Olshavsky if there was a plan in place to recoup the $1 million.

“Not directly,” Olshavsky said. “That building then becomes a vacant building and falls under our normal property rules, which means at some point in time, we would probably offer it for sale or lease.”

Olshavsky said that some of the $1 million might be recouped, but most of it would be lost.

On Tuesday night, administrators recommended that the board of education build a new French immersion school at its current site on Shattuck Avenue. They also recommended renovating the Clinton Middle School building into a Spanish immersion school.

The money for those projects would come from the district’s contingency fund, officials said.

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