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Board may OK $5 million more to fix fire-damaged College Hill Elementary

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 4:24 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, June 19, 2014, at 10:13 a.m.

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A fire at College Elementary School last summer caused more than $5 million damage – “substantially more than the initial assessment,” according to a district document.

Wichita school board members on Monday will vote on a proposal to approve $4.75 million from the district’s insurance reserve fund and another $250,000 from capital outlay to pay for repairing and rebuilding the school at First and Clifton.

Officials say insurance will reimburse the district for any insurance-fund expenses above a $250,000 deductible. If approved Monday, the district also will have spent $500,000 in capital outlay funds on repairs and upgrades.

College Hill Elementary was heavily damaged in a fire Aug. 12.

Fire officials said the blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction in or near a small appliance in a second-floor closet storage room. Most of the fire damage was concentrated on two classrooms, but flames spread to structural spaces and there was smoke throughout the building, officials said.

Since Aug. 19, the school has been holding classes at a temporary location, the former Bryant Elementary School near Ninth and West. Students likely will finish the school year at that location.

School board members voted in October to authorize $700,000 in preliminary repairs, replacement materials and upgrades for College Hill.

An item on Monday’s school board agenda calls for board members to approve an additional $5 million “to pay for expenses to be incurred in the process of re-building College Hill.”

The timeline for repairs depends on several factors, officials said, 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.

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

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