January 7, 1997 in Nation/World

Bonner Schools Seek Space For Displaced Students District Still Assessing Extent Of Snow Damage To Buildings

By The Spokesman-Review

The Bonner County School District is scrambling to find room for several hundred students who will be displaced because of snow damage to roofs and classrooms at three schools.

The district is eyeing vacant space at local churches and the Bonner Mall. It will bring in eight portable classrooms to house students. Double shifting students at Sandpoint High School also may be an option.

“We still don’t know the extent of the damage at all the schools and until we do, we don’t know how many students could be displaced,” said Superintendent Max Harrell. “Double shifting is an option that has been talked about, but that would be a last resort.”

The auditorium roof at Sandpoint High School caved in under heavy snow last week. The collapse affected several classrooms. The damage may have extended into the cafeteria, offices and other classrooms in another wing, Harrell said.

“There will have to be a very careful inspection done before we decide what areas can be used,” he said.

Six classrooms at Farmin-Stidwell Elementary were condemned and the library is unusable because of roof damage. The gym ceiling and floor also were damaged and may have to be closed. Most of the portable classrooms will be placed at Farmin-Stidwell. Others may be needed at Priest River Elementary where another four classrooms were closed.

Damage estimates are more than $250,000 and the district’s insurance company is reviewing all the buildings this week.

For now, Harrell said principals are trying to arrange classes so school can resume next week. Churches near the high school might be used, as well as some vacant storefronts in the Bonner Mall just east of Sandpoint.

“Our goal is to be back in school next week but we won’t be making that decision until Wednesday or Thursday,” Harrell said. “For now we are trying to line up space until we know what will and will not be open in the schools.”

The National Guard helped the district shovel off roofs at four schools before they pulled out of town last weekend. The district still has 11 schools to clear of snow. Since the county has been declared a disaster area, officials hope to get some federal emergency funding to hire contractors to finish the snow-removal job.

“There are other buildings the district owns and there is still a lot to be done,” Harrell said.

The district has requested the state forgive the 10 days of school students will have missed at the end of this week. The district still will receive its state funding for those days and it also may decide to make up the days even if they are forgiven, Harrell said.

To graduate, seniors are required to attend a minimum number of classroom hours to get credit. The other concern is purely educational, Harrell said.

“From a parental perspective, how much time can you lose before you have kids losing ground on what they are learning? That is a critical issue,” he said.

District principals will meet Friday to talk about making up days and finalize plans for using alternative sites for students.

, DataTimes

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email