Storms take $1 million toll on C.R. schools

Buildings and grounds manager estimates $1 million in damage

Cedar Rapids School District's Brock Skow works on cutting up branches from the Cleveland Elementary School property in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
Cedar Rapids School District's Brock Skow works on cutting up branches from the Cleveland Elementary School property in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Bouts of severe weather in June have caused an estimated $1 million in damage to Cedar Rapids Community School District facilities.

That was the assessment district buildings and grounds manager Rob Kleinsmith gave Wednesday afternoon.

Three buildings bore the worst of the weather’s wrath: Cleveland Elementary, Jefferson High School and Washington High School.

A third of Cleveland’s classrooms and its roof were damaged by severe weather June 16.

“Cleveland’s not in good shape,” Kleinsmith said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do over there.”

The more recent bout of severe weather Sunday and Monday hit Jefferson and Washington high schools hard, and it affected a few other district structures as well.

Roosevelt Middle School, 300 13th St. NW, sustained damage to its gym floor, auditorium storage room floor, gym ceiling and possibly to an air handling unit as the result of a waterline break, though the manager isn’t sure whether that’s tied to the storms.

Work on repairing Cleveland is set to start Monday.

“It’ll take us right up to the first week of school,” Kleinsmith said. “There’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done.”

Kleinsmith said district insurance has allocated about $500,000 for the June 16 issues.

“We’ve got a couple more walk-throughs for the smaller stuff, but we do know that the majority of that, if not all of it, is covered through the insurance claim,” he said.

That might not be the case for the more recent damage, for which Kleinsmith said a dollar valuation is not yet available.

For certain affected spaces, such as Jefferson’s fine arts wing, the total extent of the damage is unknown. A meeting with representatives from the district’s insurance company is set for next week.

“It all depends on what building components are able to salvaged and what can be replaced,” Kleinsmith said. “I know we have some exclusions in our insurance policies concerning floods. We do feel comfortable that there are some components in the event that happened on June 30 that will be covered, but it’s safe to say there are some components that will not be covered.”

Kleinsmith wasn’t sure why Jefferson and Washington were hit so hard, but he said a combination of heavy rain, backed-up storm sewers and sump pumps unable to function during power outages resulted in damage for the high schools.

He said all district schools will be ready by Aug. 26, the first day of school for students, though timelines for repairs and replacements at Jefferson and Washington aren’t yet ready. He said it’s possible maintenance work related to storm damage might be happening once class is back in session.

“We’re going to make every effort that it doesn’t impact students and staff,” Kleinsmith said. “If there is an area that may not be completed yet, we will have temporary measures in place so school can start on time.”

In the meantime, Kleinsmith said he and his staff are hoping for calmer weather.

“We already had a real busy summer construction schedule. The snow days we (made) up put us behind,” he said. “It’s putting a lot of strain on staff in putting these buildings back and up and running before school starts. If another event happens, it’s just going to stretch our resources even thinner.”

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