Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 13, 2013

Time uncertain for repairs to damaged Ind. schools

Kokomo Tribune

---- — LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Administrators don't know yet how long it will take to repair two schools near Lafayette that were badly damaged by severe storms last month.

Nearly 1,000 students from Southwestern Middle School and Mintonye Elementary School are attending classes in temporary locations following the Nov. 17 storms that raked much of the state.

Officials said during a Tippecanoe School Corp. board meeting Wednesday that decisions must be made on whether to upgrade the buildings as repairs are made. Mintonye could reopen for next school year, while Southwestern's repairs could take longer, The Journal & Courier reported.

"We are not going to rush back just for the sake of getting in the buildings," district superintendent Scott Hanback said. "We are going to do the repair process right. We want to take a calculated look at this."

Two tornadoes hit near the two neighboring schools in a rural area about five miles southwest of Lafayette during the Sunday afternoon storm wave that saw about two dozen tornadoes across the state.

Southwestern Middle School's gym and technology lab are considered a total loss, and Mintonye Elementary's roof will need to be replaced.

Hanback told WLFI-TV it was too early to estimate the cost to repair the schools and equipment valued at more than $30 million.

"As the selective demolition continues to take place inside the buildings, more and more issues are being discovered," he said. "So that's what our architects and out engineers are starting to take a look at."

The district has received more than $32,000 in donations and gift cards, along with many classroom supplies, to assist with its recovery.