Costs to repair College Hill Elementary skyrocket

College Hill Elementary Fire (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The Wichita School District says it is going to cost $5.75 million to reopen College Hill Elementary.

Seven months ago, just days before school started, a small appliance caught fire in a school closet.

From the outside of the school, the damage didn’t look like much.

Now KSN is looking into how costs ballooned to $5.75 million.

District leaders tell KSN the discrepancy was discovered when investigators took a closer look at the damage inside.

They discovered structural damage that will cost at least $3 million to fix.

The $3 million is the largest chunk of the $5 million the board is being asked to approve.

The district describes it as a cash flow situation.

The board is expected to approve the use of the money, but about $5 million of the $5.75 million will be paid for by the insurance company funds that haven’t been officially given to the district just yet.

The rest of the money, a half a million, will come from the district’s capital outlay funds.

“With that money, we’re going to, as we’re building the building back, go ahead and build it according to current standards as opposed to how it was originally constructed,” said Julie Hedrick, USD 259 Division Director of Facilities. “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, we are only paying for the upgrades.” said Julie Hedrick, USD 259 Division Director of Facilities.

The upgrades Hedrick mentioned is being covered by $500,000 of district funds.

It will cover upgrades to make the building into compliance with ADA standards and upgrades to the schools electrical system, the wiring that investigators say is to blame for the fire.

Ever since the fire, College Hill students have been attending the former Bryant Elementary School in west Wichita.

It has been renamed College Hill West.

Teachers are eager to get back to their old school because it has a brand new gym and safe room they never got to use.

The school district hopes to have the building ready for classes by the fall.

College Hill fire cause officially determined
College Hill teachers busy preparing classrooms after fire
College Hill students return to school in temporary facility

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