Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TOP STORY >>More students return

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

Cabot School District Superintendent Frank Holman says it will be a “tight” deadline to get seventh- and eighth-graders into the 80 portable classrooms at the Cabot Junior High North campus by Tuesday, nearly three weeks after a faulty light fixture started a fire that destroyed the school Aug. 10. Roughly 1,200 students attended classes in the $9 million, eight-year-old Junior High North building.

About 400 Cabot Junior High North ninth-graders started classes Monday in four portable buildings already on the high school campus and 24 empty classrooms in the old high school science and business buildings, a week after the rest of the district’s students. Administrators named the area Junior High North South Annex.

“The start of school for the ninth graders went surprisingly smooth. We asked parents to have their students ride the bus as much as possible and it looks like they’re doing that,” Holman said. “Everyone’s been so positive and really looked at it as ‘okay, we had a tragedy but now we’re preparing for teaching and learning,’” Holman said.

The four portable buildings the ninth graders are using are left over from 25 portable buildings that served as high school classrooms for nearly four years. After the new $13.9 million high school building was completed this summer, most of the portable buildings were sold and removed from the campus. An open house for the new high school will be held at 6 p.m.
The 40 portable buildings being erected for seventh and eight-grade students contain two classrooms each. After being anchored, workers hook up electricity, bell and intercom systems to each classroom, construct wooden, handicapped-accessible walkways and stock the buildings with desks, books, computers and other materials.

The seventh- and eighth-grade students will eat lunches brought from Cabot Middle School North. Students will eat either in the gym or in the classroom. Ninth-graders dine in the high school cafeteria after the high school lunch periods. The district plans to rebuild the school within two years. Holman estimates the new building to cost $15 million. It is not yet known how much insurance and catastrophic aid from the state will offset the cost of the second Cabot Junior High North building.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.