Caruthersville School District Continues Rebuilding Effort

August 17, 2006 -- Posted at 5:50 p.m. CDT

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO -- The Caruthersville School District was originally expected to have the first bell of the school year ring this morning. However, building delays forced the district to move that date back by two and half weeks.

Rebuilding a severely damaged school district is an expensive undertaking. That's what the town of Caruthersville is facing as they wait to find out just how much insurance will cover.

"At our request they were able to release two million dollars in advance funds, but I can be honest with you that two million dollars is pretty much gone," said Caruthersville Superintendent Nicholas Thiele.

After April 2nd's tornado, the district has been hard at working trying to restore some normalcy, but the school's major damage isn't cheap.

"Our total estimate of damages is going to be over six million dollars," said Thiele.

That money for the most part should be covered by insurance. However, in order to rebuild the current facilities up to building codes the district must meet current seismic requirements.

"I'm told seismic can be anywhere from 20 to 30 percent more than that," said Thiele.

The district's insurance policy doesn't cover seismic improvements, but fortunately they should be able to get those covered as well.

"The FEMA program will help us meet those codes, if necessary," said Thiele.

For the 2006-2007 the high school will actually take place in a series of mobile classrooms.  According to the superintendent, after talking to several different school districts that experienced the same disaster it could be much longer before they are back in the high school.

"The high school campus as a whole will be at least two years," said Thiele.

While things will never return to a pre-tornado form, when the bell rings on September 5th students and staff will operate business as usual.

Another problem building inspectors have come across is mold in the middle school. However, the school is taking care of the problem and expects the buildings to be ready when school starts.