Leon County School Board addresses reconstruction of Leon High School after fire

Courtesy of Shelinka Cunningham

The Leon County School Board held a business meeting Tuesday night where the reconstruction of Leon High School was addressed prior to the fire.

According to the State Fire Marshall’s office, the suspected cause of the fire that sparked off in Leon High’s storage room was arson.

Jim Connell, chief of facilities and construction for the school district, said the fire caused serious damages.

“It caused significant damage from the fire itself and the smoke was unbelievable. There was a strong odor of smoke throughout the entire facility,” Connell said.

Connell stated the cleaning crews promptly began repairs.

“We called in our emergency contractor. We had personnel from the maintenance department and cleaning crews went to work immediately,” Connell said. “Within a day and a half we ripped out the entire ceiling in the third floor from end to end, had cleaned all of the rooms on the first and second floor, removed all the burned debris and had all the systems in place again. The air conditioning system as well as the fire alarm recertified.”

Although LHS was shut down for a day to ensure the safety of students and staff, Connell feels the district responded swiftly.

“District did a great job at responding, from the school staff to the student body … by 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning we had students in all but three classrooms,” Connell said.

During the meeting, the board also discussed changes that would be implemented into the Leon County School system.

According to Georgia Bowen, vice chairwoman of the Leon County school board, the board focused on imperative issues.

“We dealt with building new schools. We dealt with refurbishing. They dealt with the repairs after the Leon High School fire, all of which was very necessary,” Bowen said. “We look forward to what these things will become once they are in completion.”

Organizations that are affiliated with the Leon County School system attended the meeting as well.

Katrina Rolle, president and CEO of United Way of The Big Bend, said United Way works with the Leon County schools on multiple projects.

“We’ve partnered with Leon County Schools with different programs since 2010 and we’re very pleased with the partnership and support of Leon County Schools,” Rolle said.

Rolle said United Way came to the meeting to share the success of the Charitable Donation campaign that the Leon County School employees participated in.

Glenda Hamby, campaign associate of United Way, reported that as a whole the district donated more than $138,000 to the charitable donation campaign.

The Leon County School Board meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.  The next meeting will be held Feb. 23 at the Aquilina Howell Center.