Fire Leaves Questions For School District - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Wheatley, AR--Brett Garrett Reports

Fire Leaves Questions For School District

February 28, 2006--Posted at 5:30 p.m. CST


WHEATLEY, AR--Where to hold class? That's what Palestine-Wheatley school officials are trying to figure out after yesterday's fire that damaged the middle school campus. It's an unexpected break for students but not for school officials who are scrambling to find a location to finish the school year. Fortunatly, no one was seriously hurt in the fire but it was a scary situation for students.


“It was a little bit scary because we just didn't know what was going on,” said 5th grade student Tiffany Davis.


Luckily no one was hurt in the blaze, but now fire officials are looking at all possible causes for the fire, including arson.


“A fire of this magnitude, especially when you get one on state owned property, there is going to be an investigation and we are not leaving anything unturned,” said Dallas Brogdon, Wheatley Police Chief.


168 students were out of school Tuesday and are not going back on Wednesday after losing a several classrooms and the gym to Monday's fire.


“We're shooting a day at a time.  Tomorrow doesn't look good, so Monday is probably our target date,” saidPalestine Wheatley Superintendent John Manning.


Temporarily, the children are out of school but there is a short term solution. The 5th and 6th graders will be housed at the old elementary school building while the 7th and 8th graders will be housed at the Wheatley Civic Center located directly across the street from the middle school.


“What we are doing today is assessing how many extra desks, tables, and chairs we have,” said Manning.


Manning expects the district will be able to salvage books and other supplies from the middle school to place in the temporary classrooms for this year. And the Palestine Wheatley School District is already looking towards the future.


“We passed a resolution last night to ask for a millage based on the facilities assessment that the state is doing,” said Manning.


This was the first year that grades 5th through 8th were in the same building. Even before the fire there had been talk of closing down the campus next year and possibly consolidating the entire district on one campus.


“Our school board is going to have to make some decisions there and we don't know what our options are until we talk to our insurance adjusters and just see what's possible,” said Manning.




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