Clark-Shawnee plans for ‘worst case scenario’ in Reid structural problem

Reid School in the Shawnee School District has been closed due to structural problems. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
caption arrowCaption
Reid School in the Shawnee School District has been closed due to structural problems. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools are preparing for the “worst case scenario” for Reid Elementary School students after the district discovered a “significant” structural problem in the building last week, according to the district’s superintendent.

Staff discovered fallen ceiling tiles and a structural issue of a bowing wooden beam in the school library on Wednesday, according to Superintendent Brian Kuhn.

Kuhn said only the roofing structure was damaged, and that there was no damage to equipment, technology and supplies.

The district’s school board held an emergency special meeting on Friday to discuss what should be done about the ‘significant’ structural problem.

“We cannot safely send anyone into Reid at this time,” Kuhn said during the meeting. “We are assuming that Reid will likely not be safe to resume school operations this school year.”

Kuhn said this “is a devastating blow to the school district” because students just returned to in-person learning and have been preparing to return full-time today. He also said it is “horrible timing” because the district is only about three months away from finishing the new elementary school.

The district is still evaluating the cost for repairs, Kuhn said, which will determine if repairs will be made or students will be displaced.

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As a result of the problem, Kuhn and other administrators proposed a continuity plan until repairs can be made. He said he is making arrangements to provide students with as much in-person learning as possible, but there is “no clear picture” of when the situation will be resolved.

The structural issue forced school officials to close the building and transition students - none of whom were attending in-person classes Wednesday - to remote learning through the end of last week.

Reid students will continue virtual learning through March 12, Kuhn said. He said on March 15, students attending in-person will be housed in different schools for the time being.

“We will leverage the space that we have available in school buildings and allow for our students to get as much in-person learning as possible,” Kuhn said.

According to the plan, K-2 grade students will attend in-person at Kindergarten Village; 3-4 grade students will attend in-person at Rockway; and 5-6 grade students will attend in-person at Possum.

Students will have the same teachers, school transportation will continue for bus riders and food service will still be provided.

Kuhn added that the schools will also house all faculty and “will utilize the staff to support students that are displaced from Reid.”

ExploreRELATED: Clark-Shawnee district discovers ‘significant’ structural issue in Reid School; students to finish week virtually

Kuhn said the primary roof support structure, which runs front-to-back over the library, has failed. He said the original section of the building was constructed in 1921 and failed because of age, leaks over time and the weight of rain and snow. The secondary roofing structure is the one holding the load at this time.

The district has been engaging with structural engineers who are reviewing the problem and developing a plan that they anticipate to be ready sometime next week. They said the current status of Reid is “zero occupancy, no exceptions.” The district has also been engaging with a construction team that will begin work once a plan has been developed.

Kuhn added that there is a silver lining - there were no injures as a result of the structure failure, that students are familiar with remote learning and that they are in the final quarter of the school year.

The continuity plan can potentially get the district through the rest of the school year if needed, Kuhn said.

“It would come down to whether a repair or temporary shoring up is an option,” Kuhn said. “I have to ask myself, ‘can I safely have students and staff return to the building?’ If I do not believe I can safely have students and staff return to the building, we will continue with the continuity plan.”

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