Purchasing valuable office space and land at less than average market rate, Columbus City Schools was the successful bidder in an auction of the property at 3700 South High Street, which served as headquarters for the collapsed ECOT online charter school.
And consolidation plans now possible with this purchase could ultimately save the District millions of dollars.
The District’s final bid was $3,155,500. Additional fees associated with the auction and transfer of property bring the total to $3,471,050.
With more than 138,000 square feet of space, the building would give the District an opportunity to consolidate several business functions that are currently spread across multiple buildings. This could include offices that are now housed in the District’s facilities on 17th Avenue and Hudson Street (near the State Fairgrounds) and academic offices at the Linmoor Education Center.
“This is a solid investment in the future operations of Columbus City Schools,” said Board of Education President Gary L. Baker, II. “My colleagues recognize that the amount paid for the property is far less than what would be needed to build new administrative space or refurbish existing space to better maximize District resources.”
“When we can save dollars and better maximize the public resources we’ve been given on the operations side of our business, then there are more resources we can devote to educating our more than 51,000 students and to updating and maintaining our school buildings,” added President Baker.
The design of the ECOT site features a combination of finished office space and unfinished open space. The District could use some of the space — such as the large theater and conference spaces — to offer educational and community outreach programming.
Dedicated reception and waiting areas are also designed to promote improved customer service opportunities, which would allow staff to better assist individuals, families, and organizations who might seek help or to do business with the District at the new location.
The newly-acquired space could also provide for significant savings through consolidation. The District would already expect to have reduced overhead expenses if offices are consolidated at the ECOT site, given the building’s updated infrastructure.
In addition, it’s expected that existing administrative sites would be closed and the property would be sold. The total sale of those older properties would likely exceed the amount paid for the ECOT property.
Closure and sale of the facilities at 17th Avenue and Hudson Street alone could generate an estimated $6.1 million.
No specific decisions on consolidations have been made at this time.
The District currently has a volunteer community-led Facilities Task Force who has been asked to give recommendations to the Board on the best use of current administrative space, as well as recommend changes or possible closures to current school buildings. The District’s purchase of the ECOT property will be discussed with the members of the Task Force at their meeting later this week.