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REPAIR OF DAMAGE CAUSED BY ARSON OK'D BY KENMORE-TONAWANDA SCHOOL BOARD

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board approved emergency plans Friday to repair Charles Lindbergh Elementary School in the wake of a June 22 arson fire that caused more than $100,000 damage.

The school district will apply to the state Education Department for permission to bypass the usual public bidding process to hire contractors to do the repairs.

Mark Kaiser, director of plant and auxiliary services, said the district will need to award contracts for cleanup of extensive damage, general construction, electrical work and small mechanical repairs.

The two-story school building at Crosby Avenue and Irving Terrace in Kenmore sustained fire damage to its faculty lounge, speech area and psychology office on the second floor. A portion of the hallway and nearby classrooms received heavy smoke and water damage. A first-floor room below the faculty lounge also was damaged and some rooms were vandalized.

No suspects have been arrested.

"If we have a prayer of getting that school opened in September, some extraordinary steps will need to be taken," said Deputy Superintendent Lee Harris.

Board President Bruce Richardson added, "We have every intention of getting this building back to speed, because quite frankly, we have no place else to put these children." Lindbergh Elementary is one of eight elementary schools in the district.

Representatives from the district's insurance carrier, Cigna Property and Casualty of Buffalo, said they plan to meet with the district's consulting contractor to get the full scope of the damage and an estimate of repairs.

Cigna representatives informed two teachers at Lindbergh Elementary that the district's insurance coverage would cover up to $500 in personal items that may have been destroyed in the fire.

A representative of the Lindbergh Parent-Teacher Association also attended the meeting. Co-president Judy Csonkas said she was there to obtain accurate information about the damage and plans to restore the building to take back to parents of Lindbergh pupils.

"Rumors have been circulating like wildfire," she said.

Another parent questioned security at the building, noting that windows were not locked. But Richardson said locked windows would pose a safety problem.

"If you make (windows) difficult to get into, you also make them difficult to get out of," he said.

Harris said an electronic security system eventually will be installed in the building as has been done at other district schools.

Meanwhile, summer school classes scheduled to be held beginning July 9 at Lindbergh will be transferred to Jefferson Elementary, 250 Athens Blvd.

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