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Officials aren't sure when College Hill students, staff can return

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, at 5:35 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, June 19, 2014, at 7:22 p.m.

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Five months after a fire damaged parts of College Hill Elementary School, district officials still aren’t sure how much repairs will cost or when students and teachers will return to the building.

This week, College Hill students began their second semester at the former Bryant Elementary School in west Wichita, which was set up as a temporary location after a fire damaged College Hill, First and Clifton, on Aug. 12.

In a letter to parents before winter break, College Hill principal Kathleen Patterson said district officials and contractors “are still working through several final details before confirming a final plan to address all damages.”

“While I know it seems like the process has taken a long time already, I can tell you that the team working on this effort has been very careful and very thorough to not only document all of our contents that were damaged or lost, but also make sure that the building will be restored to ‘good as new’ condition,” Patterson wrote.

“Once this final plan is finalized in January, we will have a better idea of when our students will return to our permanent home.”

School board members voted in October to authorize $700,000 in preliminary repairs, replacement materials and upgrades for College Hill. Officials said at the time that damage could exceed the district’s primary and secondary insurance plans.

“We don’t have the total estimate yet, because we are waiting for some final dollar amounts on professional fees for services that were requested by the insurance company,” district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said Tuesday.

The timeline for repairs depends on several factors, including what it will take to bring the building up to current code and into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. College Hill was built in 1976.

Damage to the school’s aging mechanical system prompted officials to propose an upgrade, which could cost up to $250,000 in capital outlay funds.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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