College Hill Elem. to get $5 million in upgrades

College Hill Elementary Fire (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Wichita public schools are spending more than $5 million to fix a fire-damaged school. An electrical fire last fall shut College Hill Elementary. Now the path to rebuild and re-open College Hill Elementary is underway.

Seven months after the fire USD 259’s school board approved spending the estimated $5.75 million for damages and upgrades. The board approved spending $750,000 for repairs back in October.

“It’s just like anything else if your house catches fire gets hit by tornado you think I’ve got $100,000 worth of damage when you start looking at it, the costs go up and that’s what happened to us we had more damage than we thought we had,” said School Board President Jeff Smith.

If there is a bright side to the fire, it’s that many of these upgrades would not have been paid for without it. The Board of Education also approved another $500,000 that’s coming from the district’s capital outlay funds.

“As we’re building the building back we’ll go ahead and build it according to current standards as opposed to how it was originally constructed in the long run that will save us a considerable amount of money because if we had to tear things out and replace them in the future then the cost would be much more expensive right now just paying for the upgrades,” said Division Director of Facilities Julie Hedrick.

The district expects to be reimbursed by the insurance company for about $5 million. The cost includes fixing structural damage and security and technological upgrades. It also includes the costs to get Bryant Elementary, which was closed, back open under the name College Hill West just a week after the fire.

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