Florida schools await storm repairs

Published 6:44 am Monday, July 31, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
Students are not the only ones getting ready for the school year which is due to begin Aug. 8 in Escambia County, Fla.
Bratt Elementary, Ernest Ward Middle and Northview High School are all three waiting much-needed repairs from damages sustained in Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis.
These three local schools help make up a list of more than 75 school construction jobs that are currently in motion by the Escambia County School Board.
"We have already spent $60 million on projects directly related to hurricane damage," School board director of facilities planning Ron Peacock said. "We are working our way down to what I call the mop up phase."
Out of the three local schools, Ernest Ward comes in at the bottom with the least amount of repairs needed and the lowest price tag of $75,000 needed to complete the project.
"Our repairs are minor," EWMS principal Nancy-Perry Gindl said. "The carpet that received water damage in the media center was replaced this week and the carpet in the administrative and classrooms building are scheduled to be replaced during either fall or Christmas break. The largest repair is the replacement of awnings that cover walkways connecting the gym to the main building. We had two architects out Friday walking the grounds to survey what is needed."
According to Peacock the EW job has been awarded to Larry Hall construction and is undergoing final processing.
"The plan is to hopefully begin the EW project around the middle of next month," Peacock said. "The projected expense for that school is $75,000. It is one of the schools that we consider to be minor as far as damage and repairs."
What Ernest Ward may have lacked in damage, Bratt Elementary made up for. Peacock said that Bratt's renovations would total almost a million dollars at an estimated $960,000.
The county will award the bid for the construction of a new media center in next months board meeting.
Hurricane Dennis destroyed the elementary schools media center causing the center to relocate in a portable building.
"The original media center will be reverted back to a multi-purpose room with another classroom and restrooms being added," Bratt Elementary principal Sheryl Cox-Pomeroy said. "It will be new construction, just in the same location. They plan to jackhammer the foundation and start fresh. We hope that work will begin by September. Then we are having a new media center built west of the fourth and fifth grade wing in the back of the school. We hope to occupy all of the new facilities for the 2007-08 school year."
While Bratt faces a major facelift in the months to come, Pomeroy is anxiously awaiting the return of one specific item to the school.
"We lost our school sign out front in Hurricane Dennis," Pomeroy said. "I know everything else is important, but I just miss our sign. I miss it everyday that I come."
Just down the road from Bratt Elementary, Northview High School tops the north end repair list with a price tag of $2 million dollars.
Architects are in the process of designing a new metal roof for the entire school. The original roof was damaged in Hurricane Ivan requiring only minor patchwork, but when Dennis blew through the area a year later, the roof was damaged beyond repair.
"We are looking at a major project with Northview," Peacock said. "Hurricane Ivan did the initial damage and then Dennis finished it off. We have a temporary fix on it to hold until the architectural design is complete and the project goes up for bid in about four months. We should have it ready by the time of next years hurricane season."
Due to the extensive roof damage, the school will also require some drywall repair as well.
The school board expects all three schools to be completed by the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.

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