Leader Blues

Monday, January 08, 2007

TOP STORY >>Insurance so far pays only half of loss in fire

IN SHORT: The Cabot School District has received just $7 million from Great American Insurance Co., but at least $7 million more is needed to rebuild the destroyed campus.

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Although the Cabot School District has received two sizeable payments, it is still waiting for the insurance company to agree on a full settlement in the district’s claim for Cabot Junior High North fire that destroyed the school on Aug. 10.

“We’re a long way from a settlement,” Dr. Frank Holman, district superintendent said. “Next week all parties, the insurance commission, state and engineers, will be coming together to discuss plans on how to move forward,” he added.

The district has received a total of $7 million from Great American Insurance Co. of Ohio for the fire that destroyed the $9 million Junior High North, but that’s less than half the amount needed to rebuild the eight-year-old school.

Great American Insurance Co. of Ohio last week sent $3 million for the district’s claim and had previously sent $4 million, according to Holman. A preliminary budget to rebuild the school puts costs anywhere between $14-18 million and is expected to take two years to rebuild.

“We have less than half of what we think it would cost to build the school back, and that is without the cost of operational equipment,” Holman said. “We hope for more (money) in the future,” he said.

The district has spent $3 million to date to cover operational costs and textbooks since the fire that was ignited by a faulty light fixture, Holman said.

The 1,200 displaced students have been attending classes all year in trailers set up between the tennis courts and the Cabot Junior High North gym. It is costing the school district $40,000 per month to rent the more than 30 trailers used to house the students.

Great American has yet to release the building to the district, which is delaying building plans.
“We met over the Christmas holiday to try and find some kind of resolution on how to get released and move forward with construction,” Holman said.

Engineers are checking the structural soundness of the building, trying to see what might be salvageable, according to Holman.

The Cabot School District has a blanket policy of $100 million for all the school buildings in the district. The policy covers full-replacement value of the buildings.

Full-replacement value is what it would cost to rebuild any of the buildings at current construction prices. The district pays $123,000 annually for the coverage from Great American; the policy also covers the cost of contents and personal property.