Moose Lake school damaged worse than previously thoughtUntil Monday, Moose Lake officials and residents thought its schools had fared pretty well from the flood.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Until Monday, Moose Lake officials and residents thought its schools had fared pretty well from the flood.
Then came the sucker punch. Sensors detected a large amount of water in the walls of the elementary school, where there was no visible water.
“A couple days ago, we thought we had dodged a bullet,” Superintendent Tim Caroline told the crowd at Monday’s meeting. “And I want to thank all the volunteers that helped with sandbagging the school: students, teachers, everyone.”
He explained that the elementary school rooms have built-in bookcases running around the exterior walls of each room. Although school staff had cleaned up a small amount of water that had gotten into the building, they hadn’t realized the sheetrock and insulation behind the bookcases was completely saturated.
“Today they began demolishing the bookcases in each room,” Caroline said, getting choked up as he delivered the grim news to the crowd. In addition, books that were saved from the school’s media center were beginning to smell, indicating that they had been contaminated with moisture and will likely have to be thrown away.
On Wednesday he said contractors hope to start work fixing the school next week. But they have to wait for it to dry completely before they can do anything and the boiler room and the health classroom are still taking in water that is bubbling up from the ground below.
“Is it repairable? Yes,” Caroline said, explaining that a contractor had given him an initial estimate between $750,000 and $1 million to get the school ready for students by September. “But it’s not looking like insurance will pay much of anything.”
Without insurance or assistance from the state or federal government, it’s money the district doesn’t have. Caroline said he’s hopeful state officials will allow the school to get 90 percent of its funding from the state instead of the 60 percent given after legislators balanced the budget by delaying payment to the schools last year.
As for questions about a new school – a proposition that has failed to pass voters more than once – Caroline said that’s no silver bullet.
“That’s a two-year process, designing and building a new school,” he said. “We need to have our school ready for students in two months.”