Leader Blues

Thursday, August 17, 2006

TOP STORY >> Junior high to become campus of 25 trailers

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

Finding out the fire that destroyed Cabot Junior High North Thursday was accidental, started by a malfunction inside a fluorscent bulb that caught the ceiling on fire inside a media center storage closet, is little consolation for 1,250 students who won’t resume classes until Monday, Aug. 28 or Monday, Sept. 4. The rest of the district will begin classes Monday.

The seventh, eighth and ninth graders of Cabot Junior High North will be attending classes on campus in 30 portable buildings the district is renting for $27,000 per month, covered by the district’s insurance.

Lunches will be prepared at other school cafeterias in the district and delivered to the students. New textbooks and desks have been ordered for students.

Cabot Fire Department Chief Phil Robinson and Cabot School District Superintendent Frank Holman announced the cause of the fire Monday during a press conference outside the burned building.

The $9 million Cabot Junior High North building constructed in 1998 had no sprinkler system installed. The building was built to state code at the time.

“There was nothing wrong by the school. The codes have changed, and a building like this built today would include sprinkler systems,” said Robinson.

“Had this building had a sprinkler system, it may or may not have ended up like this. It started high, got into theroof. Attics are not usually sprinkled, so I can’t say it would have helped at all,” Robinson said.

“The building is still unsafe, but we’re hoping to take teachers maybe two at a time to their rooms to see if there’s anything salvageable,” said Frank Holman, Cabot School District superintendent.
Fire departments from Ward, Beebe, Jacksonville and North Little Rock along with several volunteer departments spent 10 hours battling the blaze that left only a separate multipurpose building and gym untouched.

Holman estimates it will cost $15 million and as long as two years to rebuild the school. There is no estimate yet on the damage of the building and all that was inside.

“I’m just amazed at all the work everyone has been doing since the fire,” said Alan Turnbo, Cabot school board member.
Cabot Junior High North teachers will spend this week in the cafeteria at the new Cabot High School to finish in-service training.

The district has arranged a series of meetings for parents and students next week in the fine arts building at Cabot High School.

Parents of ninth-graders will meet at 2 p.m. on Sunday, parents of eighth-graders at 4 p.m. Sunday, and parents of seventh-graders at 6 p.m. Monday.

Daily updates will be provided on the school’s information line at (501) 743-3535 and the district’s Web site, cabot.k12.ar.us.