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Sandy Repairs at Lawrence High School to Cost District $8M

Hallways are crowded at middle school after relocation, but superintendent is satisfied with the results.

The Lawrence School District will spend $8 million to get Lawrence High School fully repaired from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, according to Superintendent Gary Schall.

The district shut down the high school building about a month ago after its electrical system became in danger of failing, Schall said. About $2.4 million will be used for cleanup at the high school, and $1.4 million for electrical work. All the high school students have been relocated to Lawrence Middle School, while other students were placed in other schools.

“We are moving swiftly to get back to the high school,” Schall said at a town hall meeting held Thursday. “The cost of Sandy is huge.”

Schall stressed that relocating over a 1,000 students within 24 hours was a huge undertaking for the district, and he is proud of his team. All administration members have been moved out of their offices and are working in the hallways. Trailers are also being used for office and meeting space. The walls of the offices were knocked down to make room for temporary classrooms, a move that saved the district $100,000, according to Schall.

“By relocating administration, we were able to have all the classroom space we needed,” he said.

Still, one student at the meeting said that she missed the high school building.

“The hallways are so crowded,” she said. Still, she added, the district handled it well.

Meanwhile, an architect has walked through every classroom to make sure they meet standards. Schall said classrooms numbers are now balanced.

The board of education has also approved the hiring of an adjuster — Tampa-based Richard Tutwiler — “to hunt for every penny,” Schall said.

“We’re not equipped to handle the finances of disaster relief,” he said. “We need expertise to handle these issues.”

The district will host a town hall meeting soon to discuss options on the 2012-13 budget, which Schall said are “not going to be pleasant.”

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