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Fire-damaged College Hill school won’t reopen until at least next semester

It could be a semester or longer before College Hill students will return to their fire-damaged school, district officials said.

“What we’ve told College Hill – the teachers and the parents – is plan on the long haul,” superintendent John Allison recently told a bond issue advisory committee. “We’ll get you back as soon as we can, but we want to make sure it’s done right and everything’s taken care of.”

College Hill Elementary, at First and Clifton, was heavily damaged in a fire Aug. 12. Since Aug. 19, the school has been holding classes at a temporary location, the former Bryant Elementary School near Ninth and West.

Allison said the overall cost of repairs still is unclear. Insurance adjusters have been combing through the damaged school room by room, he said, determining what can be salvaged and making an inventory of the rest.

The district is responsible for the first $250,000 in damage, Allison said. Primary insurance would cover the next $1 million, he said, and secondary insurance another $1.2 million.

“We anticipate that we will definitely be into the secondary insurance realm,” he said. “It’s just hard to tell how much at this point.”

Allison said the timeline for repairs at the damaged school depends on several factors, including how quickly the district can get the necessary permits for reconstruction. College Hill was built in 1976.

He said students likely will be at Bryant “through at least the first semester.”

Kathleen Patterson, principal at College Hill, said students and staff have adjusted well to their temporary location.

“We’re to the point where it just kind of feels like home – not our true home, but we’re settling in,” she said Thursday.

“Kids are learning, teachers are teaching. We’re just really excited to have a place and get things going.”

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